Why Benchmark 3 could be the most important benchmark

The aim of any careers programme should be to create provision that is tailored to fit the needs of each individual student. It might not be possible to create a wholly bespoke programme but we should make it easier for each student to have a programme that feels as much about them as individuals as it does about their peers. If they don’t feel involved then they don’t have ownership – this is why getting benchmark 3 right might just be the key to the success to your whole strategy.

Previously we have written about the statutory requirements regarding Benchmark 8, Personal Guidance and the difficulties school and colleges have in meeting it. Those difficulties shouldn’t be dismissed and the call for additional funds should remain loud and resounding until the funds are forthcoming. When examining the data we can clearly see that progress is being made with this Benchmark and this progress is linked with that of GB3. However, the data shows addressing the needs of each student (GB3) does lag significantly behind all others. Closer examination of the data shows just how closely aligned these Benchmarks are.

Below you can see data from the previous three reports published by The Careers and Enterprise Company.

State of the Nation 2018 (3,092)
State of the Nation 2019 (3,351)
Careers Education in England’s schools & colleges 2020 (3,296)

If we focus just on the number of schools and colleges who have fully achieved this Benchmark, the data looks like this:

Benchmark201820192020
3 – Addressing the Needs of Each Student13%20%27%
8 – Personal Guidance49%57%63%
Schools & Colleges GB3 & GB8 – Fully Met

Each of the Benchmarks have increased by 14% over three years with the difference between the two holding at 36/37% over this period. So as much as there is more work to be done to improve these areas, we do need to ask some questions as to why GB3 remains so low but GB8 so high. How can we be doing so well with Personal Guidance and so poorly with using the data we get from these sessions.

The importance of a tailored approach to each student is undeniable. Teachers will know that quality assessment of students learning is essential when planning for progress. Teachers use assessment data to identify where students need additional support with an aspect of their learning. There should be no difference in our approach when it comes to CEIAG. Where outstanding provision is found, schools and colleges have a robust approach to tracking students Careers interventions and providing access to relevant stakeholders.

The information from Personal Guidance sessions should be used by the Careers Leader to plan where more support is needed for each student. It can’t be that conversations are taking place about possible destinations or career aspirations and they not be acted upon. In fact, I think that this information is being used in this way but possible not enough.

As a Careers Leader I think it important to ask the following questions when it comes to addressing the needs of the individual student :

  • Do you have systems in place to record, track and report?
  • How can staff get hold of them?
  • Is the data we have being used?

If you can’t answer all three of those question confidently, then this is an area that needs improving. The true link to the success of your Careers programme, is that all stakeholders are involved, your strategy must be whole school.


Do we have systems in place to record, track and report?

There are many ways to address this issue, but there are multiple software providers that allow this process. Take a look at Compass Plus, Unifrog or Start Profile to get started. We also provided some guidance on how you can make use of in-house tracking through your school’s database management system.

How can staff get hold of them?

All staff should have access to the information collected and having the software solutions mentioned above in place will help answer this question. Staff should be provided with training and support when trying making use of the software. They should also be provided with training and support in making use of the information gathered, which brings us to…

Is the data we have being used?

Once staff are shown how to both find and use the data we need to ensure that this is taking place. To ensure that this is happening you will need to monitor staff and students. This monitoring could take place in ‘book looks’ or lesson walkthroughs. Furthermore, questions about Careers should be included in student voice conversations as well as parent feedback questionnaires. If we are being more specific, form tutors should have an thorough understanding of the information obtained in personal guidance sessions as well the Careers interventions their tutees have accessed.


The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership provided some in practice guidance on the specific ways in which Benchmark 3 can be addressed:

All stakeholders in school should have an understanding of what each pathway a student wants to take when they leave the school. It wouldn’t be possible for each of those stakeholders to know how they can support them with that journey but they should know where they can access information on the student needs. These needs can be referenced in one-to-one conversations and parent consultation evenings. Surely the more we know what our students want, the better we know them and the better connected and invested they are in achieving it?

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