The Importance of Careers Leadership: embedding provision, delivering impact

The impact of COVID-19 on young people shouldn’t be understated; it will be several years before we fully understand the effects. What we do know is that young people need the help and support of Careers educators now more than ever before. They need us in understanding the ever changing job market and new recruitment practices as well as revisiting the universal skills that are still required to have successful careers. Outstanding leadership remains the constant factor in embedding this provision and delivering impact.

Understanding the Chalkface Challenges

These are the challenges that all schools have faced when delivering careers education over past 18 months. These issues have not been unsurmountable but have had a clear affect on Careers Leaders and educators ability to deliver CEIAG in a meaningful way. What has been clear is that those schools that already have a careers strategy or plan in place were best able to pivot to new ways of working and delivery. Those that essentially had a blank page often found themselves down the rabbit hole trying to make things work without a clear direction of travel or objective.

As highlighted by Robert Halfon MP last week Careers education continues to be treated as a second class priority by Ofsted. The ramifications of which can be clearly seen in the Gatsby/Pye Tait ‘School, college, and student perspectives on
information shared about educational pathways: Gatsby Benchmark 7
‘ report;


With the difficulties in delivering Careers education in the traditional way, schools have seen the benefits of embedding careers directly into curriculum areas – however with the challenges of the catch up curriculum might find this particularly challenging over the next year. What we can say is that making sure there is a direct link, contextualises everything for students – building opportunities to learn universal skills at the same time further enhances the careers programme and outcomes.

With a slightly forward thinking hat on, further challenges await careers educators in how they are preparing young people for tomorrow’s jobs, today. There is positivity in regard to the jobs market picking up but there are now jobs that are no longer required and others that were not foreseen until now. Similarly schools will once again have to pivot to allow young people to prepare for modern recruitment practices. The CV and Cover letter may be a thing of the past for some companies, with them requiring candidates to appear in remote interviews or assessment centres.

Embedding Provision

The above challenges are not the only ones faced by school leaders, neither are they unsurmountable. What is required is strong leadership and a strategic plan to rise to the meet these head-on. Often those who are asked to understand the nuances required to lead on these challenges don’t have the background knowledge of careers or the understanding of taking a strategic approach. This is absolutely not a criticism of those individuals as we were all their once. What we needed then and they require are those tools that will allow them to embed provision to maximise impact.

Working towards a Level 6 qualification is important personal professional development but whole school impact comes from driving whole school change through a whole school strategic plan.

Our Careers Leaders need the support and knowledge to help them take a diagnostic approach to current provision. Having an understanding of where good practice is present in school but also where there are clear deficiencies that need addressing. How can those areas of good practice be used and shared with others to build a consensus for change. Often selling the moral imperative is the easiest way of bringing people with you. Ensuring that everyone knows that being Careers Leader may be your role but Careers is everyone’s responsibility.

Having that strategic overview of where to take Careers is essential in embedding provision:

  • Analysing current provision
  • Setting a vision for change and strategic objectives that underpin it
  • Understanding outcomes for each year group
  • Building a careers programme around these outcomes
  • Aligning roles and responsibilities for delivery
  • Expanding current stakeholder relationships and cultivating new ones
  • Developing a plan to implement these changes

Having this clear direction of travel codified and shared with all stakeholders means that you are all moving in the same direction.

Delivering Impact

We need to say that achieving all eight of the Gatsby Benchmarks is the first step in delivering impact with Careers education but it is very much the end of the beginning of the process.

We are all in the business of bringing all those elements of outstanding provision together. Your school delivering the statutory obligation for Personal Guidance is one key aspect of your role – ensuring that the information gathered from that meeting is fed into a tracking system that then informs meeting their individual needs is where leadership is required. You can’t do it all yourself, nor should you, so building the leadership skills needed to work with key internal stakeholders are key in delivering impact and lasting change.

Impact Indicators

Delivering impact is evidenced over a period of time not just a snapshot of success over a single year. Real impact presents itself in some key areas, some clearly measurable and some are more ephemeral:

  • Destinations
    • are more students moving to Level 3 programmes than before?
    • are more students gaining access to Apprenticeships at either Post-16 or 18?
    • are more students moving onto University? If so, are they Oxbridge or Russell Group?
  • Quality in Careers/Careers Mark
    • has the school achieved a kite mark for provision?
  • Culture
    • are student voices fluent in the language of Careers?
    • are parents engaged in the careers programme?
    • do you have strong partnerships with business?
    • are students allowed to develop and practice universal skills?

We ask that all young people are given the keys to the door of opportunity & their families receive the guidance required to support them in opening it.

Careers Leadership Training

There is free Careers leadership training available to eligible schools through the Teach First Careers Leader programme. The programme addresses all of the issues and solutions presented above. Furthermore, it provides the programme member with the opportunity to learn and develop the leadership skills needed to embed provision and deliver the impact required to change lives.

Learn more about applying for next year’s programme here, and selecting the ‘Apply’ link.

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