Unlocking your pupils’ potential with unbiased career guidance

Date Published


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5 minutes


Shaun Riley

Unlocking your pupils’ potential with unbiased career guidance

Every young person can benefit from high-quality careers guidance. It can help them to make informed decisions about their future by giving them a better understanding of themselves, their knowledge, skills and attitudes, and the career opportunities available to them. By matching these elements, it helps them to identify what careers they should be considering and how to go about pursuing the one that’s right for them.

The Good Career Guidance Report by the Gatsby Foundation identifies a set of eight benchmarks that schools can use as a framework for improving their careers offering.

It’s been developed to support schools in providing pupils with the best possible careers education, information and guidance, and forms part of the Government’s careers strategy, which was launched in December 2017.

All eight benchmarks are essential for you to deliver impartial, balanced and quality careers guidance to your pupils. This includes elements such as work experience, employer interventions, and interventions from a range of education providers within a structured careers programme. Personal guidance – benchmark eight – plays a critical role in pulling all these elements together.

Personal guidance is the term used to describe a focused, one-to-one interview that a pupil has with a qualified careers professional. This could be a member of your staff or an external resource, as long as they have the appropriate training, a recognised qualification and the time to be available whenever your students are making important study or career choices. Current legislation states that every pupil should have at least one interview by the age of 16 and an opportunity for another interview when they reach 18.

But personal guidance is also so much more than this: it ties together careers education and life experience in a structured yet individualised way. So, it helps pupils to develop their career goals and understand their options post 16 and 18, and it gives them clarity on the current job market and its conditions. But it also helps them to understand themselves and what they want out of life, and how to go about achieving it. This develops their emotional intelligence and improves their motivation and self-confidence, resulting in improved behaviour and even school attendance.

While all these factors are important at any time, they’re more essential now given the time of uncertainty and change that we find ourselves in.

 We’ve seen a lot of research that shows just how deeply the pandemic is affecting young people in the UK. A recent poll by mental health charity YoungMinds shows that 83% of young people are more worried about their mental health because of Covid-19, while the annual Prince’s Trust survey reveals that one in four young people feel that they’re unable to cope with life. Research shows more children are electing to study at home because of safety fears brought on by the pandemic, and figures from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce suggests that 58% of young people are uncertain about their future.

And all of this must be considered against the backdrop of a shrinking economy and rising unemployment levels.

For young people, especially school leavers, the pandemic has significantly reduced the number of job and work experience opportunities available. Among many other challenges, they’ve had to deal with reduced numbers of apprenticeships and internships, less part-time work for post-16 pupils, perhaps being furloughed or laid off and, in general, more competition for the few jobs that are available to them.

So, it’s no surprise that young people are struggling with motivation and confidence, and they’re at a loss as to how to adapt to a world that’s changing so quickly and fundamentally around them.

This is where balanced and impartial personal guidance can make a real difference. It helps young people to understand themselves, their decisions and the world around them, putting them in a better position to make the most of the opportunities that come their way.

We believe that every young person deserves access to expert careers advice and personal guidance. To find out how we can support your careers programme and help you to achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks, contact us today.

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