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Since September, every school in England has been required to have a named Careers Leader in place to drive forward improvements to careers guidance.

Less than 12 months on, the progress made in this short time has been impressive. As research from the Gatsby Foundation and The Careers & Enterprise Company published today reveals, substantial progress has been made by schools in embedding the role of the Careers Leader.

It’s still early days for this workforce, but Careers Leaders are building a momentum. Senior Leadership teams are increasingly treating careers as a priority. Careers Leaders say careers provision has improved over the last couple of years, that this is translating to improved outcomes for young people, and that they are positive about the future of careers provision.

The hard work of Careers Leaders is clearly paying off. This group are showing the drive, commitment and leadership that was envisioned for the role, and schools are buying into this agenda.

We’re seeing schools take a lead on this agenda. And from my work with schools across the country - and with organisations like PIXL – I know it’s that when schools really take ownership of an issue that we really see significant change.

Those of us that work in careers guidance and in education more generally should say a huge ‘thank you’ to every single Careers Leaders for their work over the last couple of years. We should celebrate the contributions they have made to preparing the next generation for the world of work.

But we also need to back up these words with actions. Careers Leaders are doing their bit, and school leaders, the government and organisations like ours need to back them to ensure this momentum is not lost.

While the research showed that Careers Leaders are positive about the future, it also revealed the challenges they face and hinted at ways we can support. We need to back them with the tools, training and guidance they need to continue to excel.

Engagement with colleagues

While the vast majority (83%) of Careers Leaders are reporting on career guidance to senior leadership teams at least once a term. But engagement with other groups within schools could improve – 43% of Careers Leaders said engagement from teaching staff was a barrier. Engagement with this group is vital, as a key part of a comprehensive careers provision is to embed careers guidance across the curriculum.

And two-thirds (65%) of Careers Leaders said they only report to school governors once a year or less on careers, potentially missing a chance to get valuable strategic input. School leaders should ensure that Careers Leaders have opportunities to interact with both these groups, and that their role is visible across the entire school.

Importance of training

The majority of Careers Leaders (54%) have either completed or are currently participating in careers leadership training. And a further third (31%) intend to do so. The evidence shows that schools with a trained Careers Leaders do better against the Gatsby Benchmarks.

At present, the Government have committed to fully funding CPD for 1,300 careers leaders across the country, given an important boost to this new workforce. But we must make sure this training support is maintained as new Careers Leaders join the workforce, and government should consider an ongoing CPD commitment for all new Careers Leaders.

Time pressed teachers

The time spent by Careers Leaders is double the time reported by careers coordinators ten years ago. Careers Leaders are spending an average of 14.5 hours a week compared to 7.4 hours in 2009. While this is hugely welcome, the majority of careers leaders still identified time as a barrier.

This is perhaps the most difficult one to tackle. All teachers and school staff are time pressed, not just Careers Leaders. Most Careers Leaders are also balancing their careers responsibilities with other roles.

But the evidence clearly shows that time spent on careers does translate to improved outcomes for a school. Schools with full-time equivalent Careers Leaders (compared to minimal capacity of a few hours a week) achieve around one extra benchmark on average.

The case for providing Careers Leaders with the time and resources to dedicate to improving careers provision is clear. School leadership and government need to think about how they can provide support to make this happen.