Benchmarks & Background

Sir John Holman, a former Headteacher and founder of the National STEM Learning Centre, was asked by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation to undertake an independent, international review of career guidance. Working with the University of Derby, the project visited six countries, analysed good practice in English schools and reviewed existing literature. From all of this, Sir John wrote the Good Career Guidance report. In the report, he identifies what 'good' looks like and outlines a framework of eight benchmarks that secondary schools and colleges can use to improve their career guidance programme.

The eight benchmarks are:

Piloting the Benchmarks

Following the publication of the Good Career Guidance report, the Gatsby benchmarks were piloted in secondary schools and colleges across the North East of England ahead of being adopted as government policy.

A four-year evaluation by the University of Derby found the pilot had significant impact in schools and colleges, reflected not just in the number of benchmarks achieved but also on students’ career readiness and GCSE results. Click below to read more.

Piloting the Benchmarks

Watch the following video for an overview of the origins of the report, the pilot and the 'transformational', 'life-changing' impact of the Gatsby benchmarks on careers programmes across the region.

Further Work

Since they were first piloted, the Gatsby benchmarks have been adopted as national policy and the vast majority of secondary schools and colleges across England are using them as the framework to guide their careers programmes. The Careers & Enterprise Company supports all English schools and colleges to work towards the benchmarks with training, free resources and targeted funding. More details of this support can be found under Support & Tools.

Gatsby now works to support the implementation of the benchmarks through funding research; publishing guidance and good practice for schools and colleges; and promoting the importance of career guidance. Also see Support & Tools to view Gatsby’s publications and case studies about how the benchmarks have been adopted. For a full list of our current projects supporting careers and the benchmarks, visit the Gatsby Foundation website.

About Gatsby

Gatsby is a foundation set up by David Sainsbury to realise his charitable objectives. We focus our support on a limited number of areas:

  • Plant science research
  • Neuroscience research
  • Science and engineering education
  • Economic development in Africa
  • Public policy research and advice
  • The arts

Within science and engineering education, our focus areas are technical education reform, STEM skills in the workforce, good career guidance, and science and maths in schools. For news of our current work, visit the Gatsby Foundation website.