It’s not the destination, it’s the journey (apart from this year and probably next)

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “life is a journey, not a destination”, this is unquestionably true and we should always remind our students of this. Too often they are forced to focus on their exam results as the perceived destination, which is quite ironic as for this year and possibly next, ‘Destinations’ will matter more than exam results. Is your school ready for what’s to come?

We all know that the one real tangible accountability measure for a careers programme is a school’s destinations data. It goes beyond just NEET figures but cuts to the heart of a programme set up to support students with their future careers. How many students remain with Level 2 programme of study? How many move on to Level 3, apprenticeships or direct employment. With Post-18 destinations we factor in employment, as well as the number of students going university be it Russell Group or Oxbridge?

These are all important aspects to ensuring that any careers programme is robust and having the needed impact on young people. In previous years this destination data was extremely important but for this year and probably the next, they now form one of two of the key accountability measures for a school or college.

If we look at the school and college accountability 2020 to 2021 guidance from the DfE we can see where this all fits together:

‘In autumn 2021, we will use the compare school and college performance service to publish:

  • a list of the subjects and qualifications pupils or students took at key stage 4 and 16 to 18, including, at KS4, the proportion entered for the EBacc combination of subjects
  • data on how well schools and colleges support their key stage 4 and 16 to 18 pupils or students to their next destination’

Careers Leaders have expressed frustrations regarding the marginalisation of their Careers programmes over the past 12 months. It would be fair to say that some marginalisation should have been expected due to the changing nature of education. What this guidance clearly means is that Careers education needs to play an integral part in school life for at least the rest of this year.

It would be prudent for school leaders to ensure that robust systems are in place to ensure students have received the statutory amount of personal guidance and that all support has been offered in finding them places beyond school. It would be wise to ask yourselves if your students know what is happening next and if so, have got this recorded somewhere.

Although Gavin Williamson has stated that schools will definitely be open after Easter, this period before the break would be ideal to gather as much information as possible. Not only this but also to provide the maximum amount of support to students in making the next step. If you haven’t got data sharing agreements in place with your students, then now would be a great time to get them. Focus your attentions on Year 11 but also be mindful that Year 10 need lots of support right now as well.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – knowing where that single step will take your students is fundamental to your success and theirs.


Are you confident about your student’s destination plans below:

Sample Data Consent form below:


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