Gatsby Benchmark 1 – A Stable Careers Programme

Careers Adviser giving students careers guidance

What is Gatsby Benchmark 1?

Gatsby Benchmark 1 forms part of the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks and focuses on A Stable Careers Programme. Simply put, Benchmark 1 is the foundation, the cornerstone, the baseline for careers provision across a school or college, and the one from which the other seven benchmarks are built off. All schools and colleges are expected to have a robust career education and guidance programme embedded, and that is understood by students, parents/carers, teachers and even employers. The Gatsby Benchmarks enables schools to assess the strength of their careers provision, applying the guidance of what ‘Good’ looks like from a regulatory perspective.

Think of it as the ultimate goal—a holistic perspective that ties together the ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ ‘how,’ and ‘why’ once all the other benchmarks are successfully met. The benchmarks were established by Sir John Holman of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation in 2014, to address the need for effective career education and guidance for young people in the UK.

Gatsby Benchmark 1

Why is Gatsby Benchmark 1 important?

Gatsby Benchmark 1 is an incredibly important first step in meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks. It ensures that young people receive the basic level of careers education and guidance, along with the support they need to navigate the labour market successfully.

Benchmark 1 guides schools and colleges around how to develop a comprehensive careers strategy and plan. When effectively implemented, this enables schools and colleges to provide a progressive, all-encompassing careers programme that benefits young people, parents/carers, teachers, and employers alike.

By fully embedding Gatsby Benchmark 1, schools and colleges will not only meet the statutory guidance required, but when done well, it also empowers pupils and young people to explore various career pathways, understand the requirements of different professions, and build the necessary skills to thrive in their chosen fields, helping to prevent them from becoming NEET (Not in Employment, Education and Training).

How do you create a stable Careers Programme?

Creating a stable careers programme involves strategic planning. But we’ve seen it work best in schools who take a progressive, ‘out of the box’ approach to careers advice and guidance. One that is more than just a tick boxing exercise.

A Strategic Careers Plan can support a Careers Leader to outline the vision and objectives for a careers programme within a school. It establishes roles and responsibilities, identifies the available resources to support career guidance initiatives and emphasises the importance of regular reviews and updates to keep the programme relevant and effective.

What are the Gatsby Benchmark 1 questions on the Compass evaluation?

The Compass evaluation tool is an essential resource to assess the effectiveness of a Careers Programme. Gatsby Benchmark 1 questions in the Compass evaluation focus on whether the school or college has a clear and comprehensive careers strategy in place. It assesses the involvement of the senior leadership team, the integration of career education into the curriculum, and the availability of a stable and progressive careers programme.

The Compass evaluation helps identify strengths and areas for improvement, guiding schools and colleges in where they can enhance their careers provision to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks successfully.

Compass asks questions such as:

  • Does your school have a careers programme that is written down?
  • Is approved by the board of governors?
  • Does it have the backing of senior leadership?
  • Does your plan have resources/funding allocated to it?
  • Is the careers programme regularly monitored?
  • Does it have both strategic and operational elements?
  • Does your school publish its careers programme on its website?
  • Is there information on your website about the career programme aimed specifically at students, teachers, employers, parents/carers?
  • Does your school evaluate the effectiveness of its careers programme at least every three years?
  • Does the evaluation of your careers programme take into account feedback from: students, teachers, employers, parents/carers?
  • Does your school have a lead person with strategic responsibility for overseeing your careers education?

Take our free Gatsby Benchmark Evaluation Tool to quickly evaluate your careers programme

How Progress Careers can help you to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks

Progress Careers supports schools to achieve Gatsby Benchmark 1 by providing strategic and operational support to the school careers team. Through working across a vast number of schools, we are well-placed to share best practice and excellence. We have worked with schools that have an established careers programme and identified any aspects that could be enhanced, and equally, we have supported schools with little or no provision and helped them to create a short- medium- and longer-term approach to their development of a careers programme.

With a wealth of collective experience as career leaders, teachers, careers advisers and senior leaders, we are in a strong position to help schools achieve Gatsby Benchmark 1. If you would like to speak to our team about reaching your Gatsby benchmarks then fill out the form below.