Benchmark 4

Linking curriculum learning to careers

For schools:

All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. For example, STEM subject teachers should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of career pathways.

  • By the age of 14, every pupil should have had the opportunity to learn how the different STEM subjects help people to gain entry to, and be more effective workers within, a wide range of careers.

For colleges:

All subject staff should link curriculum learning with careers, even on courses which are not specifically occupation-led. For example, STEM subject staff should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths. Study programmes should also reflect the importance of maths and English as a key expectation from employers.

  • Throughout their programme of study (and by the end of their course) every learner should have had the opportunity to experience how their subjects help people gain entry to (and be more effective workers within) a wide range of occupations.
Image: Good career guidance

Shotton Hall Academy in Peterlee working with employees from Caterpillar

Stories from the North East Pilot

A sustained and joined up effort

Some schools in the pilot have explored ways to embed careers into the curriculum. Promising initiatives included subject teachers visiting relevant industries; building links between subject heads and employers, bringing employers into class to deliver or co-deliver lessons, developing careers specific activities linked to subject specific schemes of work, identifying ‘careers ambassadors’ from each department and including a careers prompt on planning documents for schemes of work.

One of the key barriers faced in bringing careers into the curriculum is a worry from teachers that they’re not trained to do this. Building relationships with employers is key here. Some schools brought employers into give talks to their teachers but others sent their staff out to work with local businesses and learn about the skills they were looking for when recruiting staff. At Churchill Community College a teacher undertook an 'insight into industry' week, where she spent a day with five STEM businesses. On returning to school she used her experiences to upskill staff on routes into STEM occupations. An added bonus was that it built closer relationships between the school and industry.

Churchill also matched curriculum leaders with a relevant employer who helps to deliver aspects of the GCSE syllabus. Industry professionals provide real-life case studies for resources and set projects around current industry projects. This programme was tested across three subject areas and due to its success will be rolled out across the entire syllabus.

Creating industry-focused work streams for students is another way of emulating industry within the curriculum. At Excelsior Academy students were invited to design an eco hotel. The project ran over ten weeks and is now a yearly event. The students who took part this year are ambassadors for the programme and will encourage and inspire subsequent year groups. The project brought numerous subjects, including maths, English and science, to life. It highlighted their practical purpose within the workplace and illustrated how the subjects prepare them for working life.


Students at Bishop Aukland College

Some schools have experimented with online programmes and careers education software, such as U-Explore. Castle View Enterprise Academy purchased the software and challenged each curriculum area to deliver one lesson using it to each year group. As with all online packages, to make the most of it both teachers and students needed to be trained in how to use it. Castle View Enterprise Academy took this a step further and also paid for parents and carers to access the website to encourage them to become actively involved in their child’s career education.

Great ideas don’t have to require a lot of extra resource. At Northumberland Church of England Academy students were asked to think of all the careers that went into making household objects. This introduced them to jobs they might not have thought about, developed the idea of the supply chain and helped them think about the variety of routes into specific industries. Simply holding a toy aircraft led to groups of students coming up with all manner of jobs from pilot and engineer to catering and security to tourism and emergency services.

Kenton School have developed ‘Futures Month’, a programme that requires every teacher to teach a lesson on careers related to their subject. Employer visits, applied learning curriculum projects and work experience also take place during this month.

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Our top tips

  • Marie Jobson, Career Leader, Churchill Community College
    "Ensure all staff are aware and agree on the time needed to design and deliver a careers programme before it starts. Encourage training and professional development so that staff feel invested in and supported. We have seen teachers confidence in incorporating careers information into the curriculum increase notably. This confidence was also seen in the way teachers built new relationships with local employers."
  • Ryan Gibson, National Facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot at North East LEP
    "There are lots of services you can buy in to support a career education programme, and it is worth talking to colleagues in other schools for recommendations but also carrying out your own research. There may be discounts or free services in your area. You can also minimise cost by sharing resources with other schools, working with employers and applying for bursaries (see: potential support). Some of the most creative ideas cost very little, for example ensuring you have employer representation on the governing body, directing young people to the National Careers Service or by making use of the labour market plugin available on the LMI for All website.The key is understanding what support you need, based on an audit of practice " 
  • Sarah Flanagan, Berwick Academy
    "Encourage curriculum areas to map their overview schemes of work to specific careers – at Berwick Academy, we invested in CEIAG boards for each faculty to showcase curriculum learning with a link to specific sectors."
  • Emma McDermott, Careers Leader at Castle View Enterprise Academy
    “Try to collect departmental schemes of work and have a discussion with curriculum staff to share with employers. It will give accurate information to give employers about how they can support your curriculum and ensure limited time is maximised.”

Try to collect departmental schemes of work to share with employers. 

Emma McDermott, Castleview enterprise academy