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Schools and colleges across the country are getting better at preparing young people for the world of work, according to the most comprehensive assessment of careers education in England to date.

Our State of the Nation report looks at the performance of schools and colleges against the eight Gatsby Benchmarks, which measure the quality of careers education and guidance.

The research is based on evidence from the two thirds of schools and colleges in England who have carried out assessments using the Compass online self-assessment tool, developed in partnership by ourselves and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. 

One thousand of these schools and colleges have now completed multiple assessments, providing a picture of how careers education in England is changing over time. These schools and colleges have improved across every one of the eight Gatsby Benchmarks, ‘fully achieving’ the equivalent of one extra benchmark between their first and last assessment.

This cohort of schools and colleges have shown particularly strong improvement in providing all young people with regular, meaningful engagement with employers, with half of them now fully achieving this benchmark. Schools and colleges in this cohort have also progressed strongly in ‘linking curriculum to careers’ and the majority of schools are now meeting the personal guidance benchmark.


Disadvantaged communities performing strongly

Despite the positive overall picture, the report finds significant variance across the country. Schools and colleges serving disadvantaged communities – those with higher unemployment and fewer people in ‘professional’ occupations – actually tend to provide higher quality careers education and guidance to their students.

And ‘coastal and peripheral’ areas, traditionally areas of lower social mobility, also score highly, with schools and colleges in the Humber and the Solent scoring the highest against the Gatsby Benchmarks on average.

Though the report cautions that further investigation is needed, it suggests this may reflect the targeting of resources in the education sector to areas of low social mobility, and that schools and colleges in these areas are prioritising careers support as a solution to the social mobility challenge.


Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said:

“The positive news is that we are moving in the right direction and getting closer to offering all young people the support they so fundamentally need

“Resources are tight for schools and colleges at the moment, which makes this steady progress all the more impressive. It’s encouraging to see schools and colleges are so engaged and that 3,000 have assessed themselves against the Gatsby Benchmarks.

“But the Gatsby Benchmarks set a deliberately high bar, and as a country we are still a long way off. The Careers Strategy set out a range of support for schools and colleges that will not yet be reflected in these results. This includes training for 1,400 Careers Leaders and 20 Careers Hubs across the country. We look forward to seeing the results of this extra support next year.

“It is a testament to our schools and colleges that so much progress is being made so fast. This work is vital for our young people and our economy.”


The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP, Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships, said:

“Careers advice and guidance has changed dramatically over the last few years. The quality of careers guidance is rising across the country, and it’s particularly encouraging that schools in areas that are more disadvantaged, are now providing some of the best support to young people.

“The world of work is changing at an unprecedented pace. Good careers guidance is vital to making sure young people can navigate the many routes into work, whether that is through an apprenticeship, university or further education.

“The government’s Careers Strategy sets a clear path for careers guidance in England. We look forward to working with The Careers & Enterprise Company and other organisations to help make our vision become a reality.”