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Our new research report 'State of the Nation 2017: Careers and enterprise provision in England's schools' gives the most comprehensive picture to date of schools’ careers and enterprise provision.

Almost 600 schools in England took part in the research by using our ‘Compass’ tool which enables schools to anonymously evaluate how well they are doing against the Gatsby benchmarks, the internationally recognised eight good practice benchmarks of careers provision. These include providing students with first-hand experience of the workplace, linking curriculum learning with the world of work and the use of local labour market information to tailor careers strategy and planning.


Download the report

Press release and notes to editors [PDF]

Progress since 2014

In 2014 the best schools were only achieving five of the eight benchmarks. Two years on the data reveals top marks in careers provision is possible with the highest achieving schools meeting six, seven and eight of the benchmarks. Headway is also being made in other areas, with schools clearly adopting and working towards achieving these benchmarks.

The research also finds that:

  • Schools that want to meet the Benchmarks can do so regardless of their student intake or local labour market conditions. Challenged schools, with tough socio-economic conditions and a disadvantaged student intake are often doing as much as schools in more favourable circumstances.
  • Strong leadership is key: having a dedicated careers programme leader, openly backed by the Head usually delivers good results. 

Work still to do

Whilst encouraging progress is evident, the research shows there is still much more to be done. Many schools are not yet in a position where: a clear strategy on careers provision has been communicated and embedded; students’ progression is tracked over time; and students have access to the full range of objective information.


Carl Ward, President of the Association of School and College Leaders said:

"The Gatsby benchmarks and tools like Compass set a clear blueprint for schools and colleges to follow in tackling their careers provision. I am pleased to see strides being made and look forward to working with my fellow school leaders, and leaders from business, to continue to close the gap in achieving the benchmarks."

Sir John Holman, adviser to Gatsby Charitable Foundation said:

"It’s great to see the progress that schools using Compass are making, and especially good that schools in the most challenging circumstances are on a level playing field with more advantaged schools when it comes to achieving good career guidance."

Claudia Harris, our CEO said:

“We were delighted to collaborate with the Gatsby Foundation to develop the Compass tool. The tool allows schools to diagnose their individual performance against the benchmarks, track performance over time, pinpoint areas of need and improve careers support to young people. We believe this national project will help improve careers support in England, ensuring that young people have flourishing futures and strengthening our economy.

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR said:

"Many of our members are already working with the Careers and Enterprise Company as Enterprise Advisers in schools helping to make the connections with businesses and supporting students in the transition from education in to work. The Compass tool will help enable them to work with schools in a more targeted and strategic way and to help young people successfully navigate the world of work and make their mark. That’s great news for schools, businesses, the economy and society at large."