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What's next for careers in the curriculum? The Edge Foundation's perspective

14 Jan 2022

We hear from Olly Newton, Executive Director at the Edge Foundation as he explains how careers education became more prominent in the curriculum last year.

When we visited leading schools in the US that are connecting careers into the curriculum, something one of the Superintendents said really stuck with me.

Kids only put up their hands in high school for two reasons – to ask for the bathroom and to say ‘when am I ever going to need to use this’. If we can’t answer the second question, we might as well stop the lesson right there.

For me this really speaks to the power of Benchmark 4. Yes, it’s about weaving strands of careers discovery and exploration through the curriculum so that it moves from something that once happened ‘at the end of a very long corridor once a year’ to the heart of school life. But it’s also about enriching the curriculum itself by bringing it to life with real examples that show young people why the knowledge, skills and attributes they are learning are important to their future. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Careers Leaders and teachers across the country should be rightly proud of this trend, particularly in this challenging year. When they really embed Benchmark 4 they give young people the very best start to their work and life journey. The importance of this area was recognised by the House of Lords Committee on Youth Unemployment, which I had the pleasure of supporting as Specialist Adviser. I have also seen the impact on the ground in the schools we work with, such as the fantastic Firth Park Academy in Sheffield, where I am also an Enterprise Adviser, and where teachers have begun to embed project-based learning with real employer connections to bring the curriculum to life.

Edge has long been a champion of great vocational education and of our fantastic, and often overlooked, FE sector. So it’s also great to see their expertise in this area recognised, but also to see that many colleges are going even further to make careers and connections to real life the centre of their work. We have loved supporting Sunderland College to really take this to the next level over the past year.

Over the coming years, I would love to see these kinds of approaches becoming the norm in every school and college, with teachers and tutors having the time and support to engage with employers on an equal footing and bring back insights and examples that drive engagement and bring the curriculum to life.

This article first appeared in our recent Trends in Careers Education report. Read more about how schools and colleges prepared their students for the world of work last year in Trends in Careers Education.


Olly Newton Executive Director at the Edge Foundation.

Read our Trends in Careers Education report

Find out more about how schools and colleges prepared their students for the world of work last year.

Trends in Careers Education 2021

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