The next blog in our three-part series covers Gatsby Benchmark three - addressing the needs of each pupil - and benchmark eight - personal guidance. We’ll be exploring how to support and advise each student so they feel confident in making well-informed choices and can work towards the right career pathway for them.

Why is this important?

We all know that, when a student feels supported, they’ll be more motivated to achieve their goals. For example, when meeting with their careers advisor, students that are supported in monitoring their progress and evaluating successes and failures, will likely feel encouraged to improve and succeed. Personal guidance helps students to achieve their aspirations rather than if they were doing it alone. This is especially true of vulnerable and at-risk students, who may require extra support, not least when research from Mencap showed just 6% of people with learning difficulties are currently in paid employment, despite the fact that 60% want to and are able to be. So it’s essential that schools have careers plans tailored to more at-risk groups of students as well.

“Throughout school I was always changing my mind on what I wanted to do as a career. From midwifery to event planning, I was never sure on what these roles would look like and how I could even access them. I feel that having personal guidance at school would have really benefited me as it would have helped me to access relevant work experience and shaped the direction of my career.” – Our Programmes & Partnerships Assistant, Laurel on her experience of personal guidance at school.

When these benchmarks are demonstrated effectively, students can use their meetings to prepare for and evaluate other career activities so that teachers can ensure they’re making the most out of them, which supports other benchmarks too. 

How does this work?

Connect

Students and careers advisors should meet when significant career choices are being made, for example when applying to university or apprenticeships in Year 13. Students and parents could be made clear on who their CEIAG staff are through a welcome meeting where they can get to know each other and start setting out career ambitions and goals. This also familiarises students with their careers team, so they feel more comfortable arranging and attending meetings when they need careers guidance.

Advise

During these meetings, careers advisors should establish students’ career needs, knowledge and skills to help them identify suitable options and plan strategies on how to achieve their goals. The GROW coaching model and SWOT analysis are useful tools in helping students to map out where they are now, where they want to be and how they’re going to get there. Revisiting these resources in each meeting can help to guide and support students with their decision-making and promote reflective learning practices too.

Record

It’s essential to keep a record of meetings so other staff can understand students' ambitions and track progress of their career planning, which helps students feel fully supported. It also allows students to reflect on their progress. Keeping records for three years after a student leaves then helps to show current students what success looks like, motivating them to take ownership of their career plans so they can achieve their goals too.

Students may underestimate the importance of curriculum subjects they study and often feel they have little relevance to their future careers. We've all heard the famous question “When am I going to use this in future?”.  Personalised guidance supports students to establish career goals and helps create links from their school work to where they want to be in the future, thereby encouraging them to work hard at school and achieve high grades that will help them to access their desired careers.

In our last blog we'll be covering benchmark six - experiencing the workplace, giving guidance on how to ensure your students are getting the most out of work opportunities whilst at school.