Careers Leadership and Self-Evaluation
The government’s new careers strategy requires every school to have a ‘Careers Leader’ by September 2018, someone who has the energy and commitment, and backing from their senior leadership team, to deliver the careers programme across all eight Gatsby Benchmarks.
This Careers Leader will need to put in place a new plan to develop and improve careers provision. The strategy recommends that leaders use Compass , the online self-evaluation tool developed by the Gatsby Foundation and the Careers & Enterprise Company. Compass works by asking schools to answer a series of questions about what careers provision they offer. On completing the questions, your school will receive a confidential report showing how you compare to the Gatsby Benchmarks. Over time a school can return to the tool, see their previous results and repeat the assessment as provision develops. The most recent analysis of the Compass data found that the overwhelming majority of schools (79.4%) achieve at least one Benchmark and most (51%) achieve at least two. While only a small number of schools report excellent provision, many schools are partially meeting the Benchmarks. This analysis suggests that careers leadership, clear strategy and resourcing are all going to be key to achieving the Benchmarks.
Your careers programme will need to be published on your school’s website in a way that enables pupils, parents, teachers and employers to access and understand it. 11% of schools are currently doing this. ‘Careers for Schools school website analysis 2017’ The strategy also indicates the programme will also need to be ‘regularly evaluated with feedback from pupils, parents, teachers and employers as part of the evaluation process’. So, how do you currently collect and evaluate feedback from pupils, parents, teachers and employers?
Using Software to Collect and Analyse Data
A lot more work needs to be done to evaluate the views of students as the recipients of their careers provision. So, is now the time to start thinking about how you collect data on all your pupils and then use it as a tool to implement the necessary support?
Hard data is required and some hard thinking is needed before you embark on this journey. Crucially, you need a coherent approach to the overall process of recording careers data throughout your school. A few spreadsheets here, some tables there and some hard copies thrown in for good measure is going to make it very difficult to get an accurate picture of anything. At the outset you need to decide:
- What data you are going to record?
- Where are you going to put it?
- How are you going to access it?
- How will you ensure everyone knows what's required?
- How do you want to show and use this information?
It is important to have centralised records to capture evidence of interventions. Sophisticated software can help you with this task. It enables you to:
- bring data together in one place
- define cohorts
- view the data for each cohort separately and make it much easier to track progress and interventions
- quickly extract the data in different ways to identify trends and spot anomalies
- set targets.
This dynamic visualisation is where software pays dividends, it brings to life the progress pupils are making and it can be a really motivating experience.
Producing Reports - Example
The new careers strategy requires schools to keep comprehensive and accurate records to support the career and enterprise development of their pupils….’as an effective means of maintaining consistent advice and helping pupils, parents/carers and advisers to keep track of agreed actions and next steps’.
The Careers Web platform uses an online careers questionnaire to collect data about each pupil and a school’s careers programme. Pupils are asked to answer a series of questions about:
- their knowledge and understanding of different pathways
- their level of confidence in relation to careers research
- their employability skills
- what is preventing them from doing more research and planning for their career
- what would encourage them to do more research and planning for their career
- what they might need more support with
- what they perceive to be their next steps
- their awareness of the provision available
- the types of provision they most engage with
- the types of provision that have been most/least beneficial to them
These answers automatically generate a Personal Careers Profile and an Individual Action Plan for each pupil. The reports are used during interviews by staff in school/school careers advisers to provide tailored support based on pupils’ interests and capability and to set targets in line with pupils’ career aspirations. They can also be used during Parents Evenings.
School Careers Leaders will need to be able to review student feedback as soon as it is recorded. The pupils’ answers to the questionnaire also automatically generate Group Reports e.g. whole school, year group, teaching group, tutor group. These reports help schools to demonstrate the impact of their careers guidance programme e.g evaluating whether the programme reflects the interests and aspirations of students, helps students to make informed choices or meets the needs of vulnerable groups/ overcome the barriers to progression.