Meet the Team

Insights: New to Careers? Advice for new Careers Leads in Schools or Colleges  

Chloe Elliott, Career Connect’s Education and Business Operations Manager, shares her tips and advice for those starting out as Careers Leads, or any Career Lead who wants to reflect on their current progress.   

You may be taking on the role of Careers Lead for the first time, or reflecting on where you are, and what to do next. It is a responsibility that often requires the ability to navigate a challenging and evolving landscape of statutory requirements, different delivery frameworks and fragmented provision.   

We know that the world of education never stands still, and recently we have been really encouraged to welcome lots of new careers leaders in the schools and colleges we work with.  

Be clear on the non-negotiables

The most helpful place to start is to understand the legislative framework you are operating under, and therefore what do you have to do.     

The Department for Education’s Statutory Guidance for schools and colleges was released in January 2023.  You can access the legislation here:   

On page 8 of the guidance, it shows that schools and colleges are now also required to provide students with a minimum number of opportunities to discuss technical education routes from Year 8 upwards. The way in which a school or college does this is also included in Ofsted inspections, and will form part of the personal development judgement.   

What are your school or college’s priorities for improvement? What can the careers programme do to support these priorities?  

A good careers programme can support schools and colleges to improve attendance, behaviour and motivation. Helping your students to understand the educational effort required to achieve their future goals can have an impact on overall achievement.  

Plus, by outlining the ways in which the careers programme is supporting the vison and values of the school or college it will increase the support from your colleagues and senior leadership team.  

What are you already doing, and why?  

Sometimes, it is really important to challenge your assumptions on what is already being done and why.  

Just because it is planned in the school or college calendar each year does not necessary mean it couldn’t be improved. Have the confidence to change activities or try new things if you think they would be more appropriate.  

Each year your school or college cohort will be different, and its important you have an understanding of their goals and aspirations so you can make sure activities that are provided for students are relevant, aspirational and inspirational.   

Think about what is working, and what isn’t. And how do you know?   

This a really difficult element of any careers programme to track. However it is important to analyse all of the information you have. For example, where are your students going once they have completed school, and what level and types of courses are they going on to? Are they staying on the courses they chose or dropping out?  

Once you analyse your destinations this will help you to plan if you need to change anything, especially if students are not maintaining attendance in Further Education or Higher Education. It’s also important to see if you feel there are gaps in the careers programme, such as what is on offer universally, and what are you doing in a more targeted way?  For example, what do you do for students who are at risk of NEET? If you work with employers and run school careers events what is the feedback telling you?  

If you commission an external careers provider to deliver elements of your programme, what are their quality measures? At Career Connect, we gather feedback and observe staff practice to ensure quality of practice. Speak to your provider and ask for their quality assurance procedures and feedback.   

What does good look like?  

The Gatsby Benchmarks provide an internationally-mapped framework of best practice of what ‘good’ looks like in careers. 

Many people forget that the Gatsby Benchmarks were developed from research that looked at a range of careers-related activities and interventions in schools and colleges across the world to provide a quality, modern framework for careers that UK schools and colleges could then apply to their own careers provision. 

Find out more about the Gatsby Benchmarks:  

For those schools and colleges that are meeting all of the Gatsby Benchmarks, another excellent way to ensure the quality of your careers programme is to achieve the Quality in Careers Standard. This is a nationally recognised award, valid for 3 years.  

To find out more visit or speak to our Career Connect Accreditation and Training team about what this involves. Contact:   

What are your impact measures, and how are you defining success?  

Defining what you want to measure, and what your version of success looks like, will help you to plan the activities and interventions you need as part of your careers programme.  

For example, are you using the Compass Self Assessment tool to measure your progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks? Are you tracking where your current Year 11 are planning to study once they have completed GCSEs? Are you measuring aspirations of your year 7 cohort and plan to track them throughout their time at school so you can see how their choices and aspirations change over time?  

We work with our schools and colleges to make sure we are contributing to the overall success of the careers programme and share this information with the whole school or college team.  

What things have an impact on career learning?   

When helping young people to make careers related decisions, it’s important to consider the different types of activities that have the biggest impact on young people.  

Based on research, we work with schools to map their provision against three types of activities proven to have an impact:  

  • Attendance at careers fairs, careers assemblies, group sessions, and career-based research tasks. This helps young people explore local and national opportunities and expand on their knowledge of occupations and industry.  
  • Career interviews. Research has proven a careers interview with an expert careers’ guidance professional, has a direct correlation and impact on a young person’s understanding of the educational effort required to achieve their goals.  
  • Employer encounters. The more meaningful contact young people have with employers and the world of work, the less likely they are to be NEET in the future, so having a range of employer encounters, and the opportunity to work shadow or visit work places is essential.   
What is your student entitlement or careers offer in your school or college? Can your students define it? Can parents and carers? Can the other teaching staff?  

This is one of the questions that Ofsted may ask.  

We also know that many young people need lots of opportunities to understand the different types of activities they are taking part in and why. A definition of your careers programme displayed in classrooms and defined on your school or colleges careers page of your website is a great place to start. 

Digital tools can help

We know that teachers’ time is stretched more than ever before, and a quality digital solution is now an essential part of a modern careers offer. There are lots of great tools out there. It is important if you purchase one, that you work with the provider to maximise its effectiveness and usage.  

We offer a digital solution called Get Connected that offers a whole school careers programme for students in years 7-13. It includes all of the information young people need to know about taking their next steps. We work with our schools and colleges to maximise the use of this tool, to save teaching preparation time and to track progress.  Linked to the Gatsby Benchmarks, and able to integrate with MIS systems, it brings everything together in one place, helping you to plan your provision and monitor its impact.  

Who else can help?  

There are lots of organisations that can support you.  

The Careers and Enterprise company offer a range of resources and materials for free to schools and colleges – plus they provide most areas across the UK with a local careers hub.  

Your local careers hub will provide you with a network of support to make the most of the different initiatives available, and they are also able to provide schools with an Enterprise Adviser – an employer volunteer committed to supporting schools and colleges to improve outcomes for young people. To find your local Careers Hub: 

So, you’ve done all that. What next?  

There are two final, but vital, questions to consider as you begin your plan of action.  

What voice do your students have in the careers offer?  

How do you gather feedback, and how do you make changes based on their opinions? When your students understand and value the careers offer in school or college, it is often much more successful in terms of outcomes.  

Enabling your students to have their say and see that their opinion matters can have a range of benefits. At Career Connect we have a group of Youth Ambassadors who support us to ensure the needs of young people are listened to and met. Can your school council do something similar?  

Where can you access more support and training?   

At Career Connect it is our mission to  help as many schools and colleges as  we can, and we are more than happy to discuss ways to improve careers provision with school and college careers leads. From organising employer events and mock interviews, to providing in-school advisors helping you work towards the Quality in Careers Standard, we can help.  

Career Connect has over 20 years experience in delivering expert careers information advice and guidance services for schools and colleges.   

Training for careers leads is provided by the Careers and Enterprise Company. To find out more visit: 

What to know more? Speak to one our team today: 
Image of Get Connected logo

Get Connected: Career Connect launches new digital careers tool for schools 

Career Connect has launched a new digital tool designed to inform and inspire students as they explore their career options throughout years 7 to 13 – while providing vital insights to schools.   

Fully integrable with MIS systems, Get Connected brings careers activities, monitoring and analysis together in one place, allowing schools to quickly see the full impact of their careers-related activities. 

While students develop their employability skills and gain greater self-awareness through tailored content, schools can use Get Connected to monitor the impact of their careers-related activities and gain a real-time picture of their students’ career aspirations.

An image showing Get Connected''s welcome page.

Gatsby Benchmarks

Get Connected aligns with all Gatsby benchmarks and is updated regularly. All content is designed by careers specialists from Career Connect, with decades of experience of delivering excellence in careers information, advice and guidance in schools. 

Schools can extract all of the data they need, easily tracking completed activities by individual, year group and institution. Schools can also build in their own pupil data – such as SEND, LAC, attendance, attainment details and more to create more in-depth reports all in one place.

Tailored Learning on Get Connected

The platform offers tailored lessons for each year group, including video slideshows, information articles, interactive quizzes, and links to video resources and key websites. Each online lesson also includes an assessment of learning and understanding. 

Schools can also work with Career Connect to create specific content that meets their institution’s needs. 

Pupils from every Key Stage have been consulted throughout the portal’s development.  

Staff and students can log face-to-face activity, work experience and employee encounters, which they can refer to when needed, such as when applying for college, jobs or university. 

Image of Get Connected's section on 'Apprenticeships'.

Record your progress

At key transition points, content on Get Connected walks students through the detail and process of choosing subject options, or finding and applying for a course.

Get Connected promotes personal development, self-awareness and aspiration in all of its content. 

Career Connect staff provide full training for school staff during the implementation period, and ongoing support to ensure schools get the most from the platform. 

Sheila Clark, CEO of Career Connect, said: “With more than 20 years’ experience of working in schools, we understand that careers provision isn’t just about running the careers programme itself, but also documenting, monitoring and analysing impact, and responding to insights. This is vital for a truly embedded careers curriculum. 

“We also know how vital digital careers tools are in enhancing careers education for students. 

“Our aim with Get Connected is to bring together student careers activity, recording and data analysis in one place, helping schools to save time, monitor impact and be responsive to student needs. 

“This in turn helps schools to shape future activities and help students to develop a coherent plan as they reach key transition points. 

“Being able to look back on their journey from year 7 to year 11 or 13 and see their progress as their understanding of career paths develop is also a fantastic way to keep students engaged.”

Image of Get Connected's 'Lessons' interface

Feedback for Get Connected:

  • “Straight to the point, interactive and Informative” 
  • “Easy to use’
  • “Informative even for the youngest year group”

(Year 12 students, Trinity High School)

For more information and to book a free no obligation demo, email or contact us via the form at the bottom of this page.

Careers Advisor and students. Challenging Gender Stereotypes

Insights: Challenging gender stereotypes with a unique Women in Business event  

With International Women’s Day and National Careers Week coinciding, Wendy Lavin, Employer Engagement Officer at Career Connect, explains how Career Connect used both the content and format of a schools’ event to challenge stereotypes and create an impactful experience for pupils.  

“We were tasked with organising and delivering an event for Year 9 pupils, aimed at raising aspirations and challenging gender-based career stereotypes.

“Each year in partnership with the school, we deliver a Women in Business event – and each year the volunteers attending the event grows and diversifies.

“We arranged for inspiring women from a range of occupations and employers to attend school. Prior to the event, each attendee was briefed, and the concept of the event explained. We also supported attendees to prepare for the event in terms of how to present the information they wanted to discuss with pupils, and feel more confident in sharing their own career journey and lived experiences.

“The school supported the students by giving them time to think of questions they wanted to ask, and to take time to understand the different occupations of the attendees.

“On the day, each attendee was welcomed to the school and supported by Career Connect staff with the timings and running order. 

“Pupils made their way around a carousel, speaking to each attendee and asking them a series of questions…

“…and then the students were challenged to guess their occupations! 

“The ‘big reveal’ was made during a panel session, where each attendee discussed their profession and career journey.

“There were audible gasps from the pupils as some of their guesses were wrong and some right!

“Our guests were able to challenge stereotypes, with many of them working in non-traditional roles or STEM careers, and some not looking how the pupils expected someone in that job to look.

“The feedback from pupils and staff was that the event really opened their eyes to what could be achieved, and what sort of careers were open to them after school.

“Having a diverse range of professions was key and the students asked insightful questions which furthered their knowledge and understanding.

“The feedback from the professionals who attended was fantastic too, as they got a lot from the event and all were really passionate about inspiring the next generation of potential employees.

“After the event, the pupils were given the opportunity to reflect on their experience, discuss with their form tutors what this may mean for their future career choice, how they were inspired during the event, and what they were planning to do next.

“While the benefit for the pupils at events like this is clear, the benefit for employers and professionals is key too.

“It is a significant way for employers to engage with the next generation, challenge stereotypes and meet their social value commitments; to give back in local communities, promote their work and organisation.” 

We work with really committed businesses and employees, and we want to say thank you to all of those who continue to support us each year and inspire young people across the UK.

If you are a school or business and would like to find out about working with Career Connect, get in touch with our team via our Contact Us page.

Insights: What works in engaging employers with school events?  

This National Careers Week, Wendy Lavin, Employer Engagement Officer at Career Connect, shares best practice on how schools can engage well with employers and build long-term relationships that can benefit students for years to come.  

“Offering school pupils meaningful employer encounters is not only a key Gatsby Benchmark, but regular contact with employers is also a proven method for increasing future employment prospects,” says Wendy.     

“One of the key drivers for our team is to support schools and colleges in delivering inspirational and motivational events that are relevant for young people. It can be challenging to align the curriculum, the school day, and inspirational volunteers from the world of work, but there are things that you can do to make your event a success and build lasting relationships with local businesses and national employers.” 

Here are Wendy’s top tips. 

 Some of our non-negotiables when arranging employer events  

Give employers a lot of notice. A minimum of 8 weeks’ notice to attend events often yields the best return in terms of attendance  

Over-invite the number of people you need. Often things don’t go according to plan, and people have to drop out both prior to the event and on the day. Make sure you have invited more people than you need  

Think about the timing of the event. Some people will not be paid before 9am and others will work shifts, therefore sometimes a later start (such as 9.30am) can really help in achieving good attendance rates 

Preparation is key. Offer employers a chance to discuss with you what is expected of them. It can be really intimidating to stand up in front of a group of young people and talk about yourself, especially if you didn’t realise you had to!   

Prepare your pupils. We often find that the most positive relationships are built when pupils are well prepared for events and embrace the opportunity to meet with employers. Let young people know who is attending in advance, and perhaps ask your students to research them.  

It’s all about the welcome! It is essential there are enough staff on the day to manage lots of visitors throughout your event.  

Make sure you have a budget for refreshments. Everyone appreciates a tea, coffee and something to eat. It makes visitors who have given their time feel valued. It’s small but goes a long way. If there are specific times for refreshments or breaks, try to let them know in advance – employers may want to use this time to reply to work emails or take a call.    

Ask for feedback every time. It all helps you to plan your next event, and it keeps the conversation going with the employer. Hopefully this is the start of a long and fruitful relationship!  

For a chat about how Career Connect can help you with your employer events, contact us on:

Pictured: Career Connect’s Education and Business Team at an employer Skills Fair organised for schools

Results Day

Tips & Advice for GCSE results day

Waiting for GCSE results day? Not sure what to do next? We have some tips and advice to help you…

Some Useful GCSE Results Day Tips:

  • If you have applied to a college or sixth form, you will need to know HOW to show them your results and enrol. Make sure you know this.
  • If you have an offer of an apprenticeship, is it dependant on your GCSE results? If so, you should send them a copy of their results, so call them and ask how you send them.

Bear in mind that, if you do not pass your Maths or English (Grade 4 or above), it is a LEGAL REQUIREMENT that you MUST resit these – so any college or sixth form you apply to will make you study these until you pass.

No plans or considering alternative?

  • Don’t panic! Do some research to ease the stress!
  • Apprenticeship vacancies are available on the National Government Apprenticeships website Browse these and see what opportunities are out there.
  • Check out College and Sixth form websites for courses that interest you. Note down their contact details and get in touch. They may ask what your GCSE results where, so these have to hand.

Know the difference between A Levels and BTECs

Remember: A Levels are exam-based, whereas BTECs use written assignments throughout the year. Both may include practical elements, depending on the course you apply for.

Steps to Follow on GCSE Results Day:

  1. Seek Advice – talk to your school/college careers adviser before making any decisions.
  2. Find out what courses are available from college and sixth form websites.
  3. Talk to sixth forms and colleges directly and have your results to hand. If you didn’t get the results you were hoping for, they can still help (possibly even offer you alternative courses) so still contact them.
  4. Interested in an apprenticeship? Visit the National Apprenticeship website and create an account – then you can make as many applications as you like.

If you are not sure what you want to do, talk to your school/college careers adviser – THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE THERE FOR.

Some useful websites:

And remember, if you don’t get the results you were expecting or hoping for (or maybe you did as badly as you feared) the important thing to remember is “Don’t Panic!”. It’s not the end of the world. There are always other ways to get where you want to go and people who can offer you help and advice. All you need to do is contact them.