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Using the Gatsby benchmarks to help your school really excel

The Gatsby benchmarks have gained a reputation for being the measure against which all excellent schools must model themselves if they want to excel in key areas such as practical science and careers advice.

The Gatsby Foundation has researched and published key documents on Good Career Guidance and Good Practical Science to help schools achieve success.

The published guidance is based on extensive worldwide research of what ‘good’ looks like and has brought together ideas and key requirements that schools should put in place to ensure they advance in these areas and provide the best advice and teaching they can.

Giving good career guidance has never been more important for schools. For many years, career guidance in the UK has been criticised for being inadequate, and changes in technology and the market mean that specific advice and training needs to be given to students before advancing.

However, from September 2018, schools will be required by law to publish the plans for their career programmes and have a leader in place to run them. By the end of 2020, schools must offer each pupil at least seven encounters with employers while they are at school. In addition, schools must start using the benchmarks to improve their provision.

Schools should take note of the eight Gatsby benchmarks of Good Career Guidance

  1. A stable careers programme
    2. Learning from career and labour market information
    3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
    4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
    5. Encounters with employers and employees
    6. Experiences of workplaces
    7. Encounters with further and higher education
    8. Personal guidance

Organisations such as Teach First have already embedded the benchmarks into their work.

Likewise, practical science is so important for learning, not only to engage and enthuse students, but because the UK needs more scientists, engineers and technicians to bridge the STEM gap.

Beyond this, the Good Practical Science report has found that many schools are not using their science technicians to their full advantage. They are well known for preparing experiments, but they are also hugely important for science team morale, practical activity development for students, and are a wealth of information. Schools can only improve by working well with their technicians to develop their science department.

Any school working effectively towards the benchmarks is in a prime position of being able to demonstrate that it prioritises these sorts of issues and this pleases parents.

If your school is working towards the Gatsby benchmarks in any way, it goes without saying that this is something to be proud of and you should be shouting about this to prospective parents in your school prospectus. However, updating your prospectus as your school embarks on new initiatives isn’t always easy and so progress cannot always be conveyed as quickly as some schools might like.

Unify for Schools helps schools tailor their prospectuses to individuals in a cost efficient and simple way. The software makes it easy to drop in sections of text about whatever you choose to prospective students and families who have expressed an interest in particular topics, from science to great careers advice or sporting achievements. Marketing and admissions teams finally have the opportunity to really sell the aspects of the school that people need to hear about whilst concurrently saving time, money and paper.

Getting the right messages to parents about your school’s approach to learning and wider pastoral care is key to building a good reputation and increasing admissions. For more information about the unique offering of Unify for Schools, watch this animation.