Gatsby Benchmark 3 and why early intervention is so important for career development

young girl with phoneWe all know that each school has students with needs and abilities that vary widely. So how can you deliver an inclusive careers education programme that works to achieve Gatsby Benchmark 3 – addressing the needs of each pupil?

Let’s think about this for a moment.  Schools are well placed to know their pupils and the challenges they face. I’m sure you’ll recognise them from the list below:

  • Social and emotional issues
  • Disengaged
  • Low aspirations
  • At risk of exclusion
  • SEND
  • Home tutored
  • Looked after children…

And this is by no means an exhaustive list. When we talk about pupils who need additional support, we are usually referring to pupils with complex needs, many of whom may be at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training).

Working to support success

With schools having a responsibility for careers education, as well as the destinations of their students for three years after they leave, how can you ensure that your pupils have the best chance of success? What can you do to ensure that they:

  • increase their attendance and attainment;
  • make informed and realistic career decisions;
  • have an awareness of the opportunities available to them;
  • can identify the skills they have to offer to an employer;
  • can transition on to appropriate post-16 education or training?

Four top tips for improving your students’ chances of success

Tip #1 – Identify needs early!

What are the indicators that a pupil may be at risk of NEET? Are these indicators showing up at Year 10 or Year 9? Ask yourself, are they:

  • Disengaged?
  • Little to no support at home?
  • Not likely to achieve GCSEs at grades 4 -9?
  • Pupil Premium?
  • Low in aspirations and confidence?
  • Complex needs?

Action – Use your indicators to plan a programme that provides extra support to those pupils.

Tip #2 – Personalised careers advice and guidance

Pupils with complex needs benefit from support and guidance that is tailored to them as an individual. One size doesn’t fit all.  It’s important to work with them to recognise where they are at (their starting point), where they want to be (their goals) and what they need to get there (action planning and support).  This type of guidance works well for one-to-one support when it includes:

  • Careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG)
  • Exploring barriers to progression
  • Support with transition into further education
  • Ongoing support throughout the school year
  • Tracking progress – applications, interviews and intended destinations

Action – Create a bespoke programme that includes these elements.

Tip #3 – Engage parents in the career guidance process

Parents have a huge impact on their child and influence their career decisions.  However, with the rapid changes in education and training, as well as emerging careers, parents are not always aware of all the opportunities available. Ways to engage them could include:

  • Inviting them to a career interview
  • Sending them their child’s career action plan
  • Advising them on appropriate courses and training specific to their child

This may sound like a lot of additional work but well-informed parents really do enhance the personalised careers guidance process!  Working with them encourages support at home and with such support, a pupil is less likely to end up NEET.

Action – Set up a system where parents are contacted, included and informed.

Tip#4 – Work together

Now it’s getting interesting! Addressing the needs of each pupil cannot work when we work in isolation. So look around you – who else can support your pupils to progress?

  • Who’s already working with your pupils in school?
    Inclusion team, SEND team, behaviour support, learning mentors, heads of year
  • Who’s going to be working with your pupils?
    College, sixth form
  • Who could be working with your pupils?

And let’s not forget your careers adviser!

Action – Set up clear communication and processes that promote a client-centred approach to working with your pupils.

Finding support that works in your school

These four top tips are just a start when it comes to thinking about how you can help to support the students in your school with additional needs – as someone with extensive experience working with such students I have many more!  If you’re interested in putting together a bespoke programme for your pupils, please get in touch to find out more about our Support4Progression programme at Ideas4Careers. Contact details, along with more information, can be found at

About the author

Michelle PowellMichelle Powell RCDP MCDI was one of the first careers advisers to join Ideas4Careers in 2012. With many years’ experience of working as a careers adviser with young people in educational and community settings, Michelle brings her enthusiasm and expertise in working with and supporting more vulnerable young people in education. Now Operational and Strategic Lead for the Support4Progression programme in schools, Michelle works in partnership with schools, parents, colleges and support agencies to enable young people to transition successfully into post-16 provision.