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Gatsby Benchmarks now more important than ever as we plan for recovery 

As we face a growing economic recession, combined with a highly uncertain job market, Careers Guidance has never been more important in our schools and colleges. I have been proud to see the agility of Careers Leaders, and the way they have stepped up to deliver for students in the face of this adversity, but I fully understand that many are looking for more support in adapting programmes over the coming year.

I must start by saying that although covid-19 presents many challenges, and a few opportunities, the Gatsby Benchmarks remain at the heart of Careers Guidance in England. Their principles are as relevant today as before the pandemic and we will continue to structure our support around them, knowing that they are the backbone of government policy.

The Careers & Enterprise Company and Gatsby have produced the Careers in Context – can do guide, framed around each Benchmark. The advice and tips within it have been designed to help Careers Leaders assess how to deliver Careers over the next academic year. For some Benchmarks, where a large proportion of planned activity can go ahead relatively unchanged, we aim to give reassurance and examples of best practice. Where possible we also highlight helpful innovations created both pre- and post-covid. For other Benchmarks, where delivery has been drastically changed by the pandemic, there is more detailed exploration and guidance on what can be done right now.

The pandemic has impacted each of the Benchmarks in different ways, and each of them will need to be considered in a new light.

For example, schools and colleges may already have a solid strategic plan in place for Benchmark 1, brought forward from last year. Although the structure may not need to be changed I encourage schools and colleges to look at it again – to take account of the institution’s recovery plan, the possible new strategic direction and the changes to students within the most at-risk categories. There is a need to build room to flex the plan throughout the year, as events and priorities change.

This may seem like an additional burden, but considering each Benchmark can also highlight the opportunities of this moment. Engagement of Careers Leaders with the  institution’s recovery planning will help bring senior leaders on board with the vision of Careers, with positive impacts reaching far beyond the length of the pandemic.

Finally I hope this guide can show everyone some of the fantastic innovation we have seen in the Careers community in response to lockdown. Some of this will lead to new best practice in the longer term, including the accelerated use of technology and strengthened relationships in a local area, and I look forward to watching this grow.

This moment in time is unlike any other in our lifetimes - we must all adapt and change. The CEC and Gatsby will continue to build support over the year, but for now I wish you all the best with your planning.