State of the nation: Careers and enterprise provision in England’s secondary schools and colleges

The Careers and Enterprise Company have launched their State of the Nation report, this report looks at careers provision in England’s schools and colleges at the end of the academic year 2017/18 and is based on over 3,000 secondary schools and colleges engaging with the Compass Self-Assessment Tool.

Current national picture

  • On average schools and colleges are achieving 2.13 of the eight Gatsby Benchmarks compared to 1.87 last year and 1.34 in 2014.
  •  The proportion of schools and colleges not achieving any benchmarks has fallen to 18.1%, the proportion achieving half has increased to 19.8%, and 11.0% of all schools and colleges are now achieving the majority of the benchmarks. 21 schools and colleges are now achieving all eight Gatsby Benchmarks.

Progress among repeat submissions

  • Among the 944 schools and colleges that have completed Compass twice with at least a month between completions, we are able to see that they are making steady progress, achieving an average improvement of 0.79 benchmarks.
  • These schools and colleges have a significantly higher achievement rate by number of benchmarks in their most recent data than the other schools and colleges in the sample, an average of 2.70 compared to 1.89.
  • Among the cohort of schools and colleges that have repeated Compass, the progress has been strongest on Benchmark 4 (Linking curriculum learning to careers) and Benchmark 5 (Encounters with employers and employees). For both of these benchmarks there has been around a 15 percentage points increase in the number of institutions meeting these benchmarks. Strong progress has also been made in Benchmarks 1, 2, and 3 (A stable careers programme, Learning from career and labour market information, Addressing the needs of each pupil). These have improved by around 10 percentage points each.

What makes a difference

  • Meeting one benchmark makes it more likely that you will meet the others. We have found statistically significant correlations between all of the benchmarks.
  • The schools and colleges that have completed Compass more than once have a significantly higher achievement rate by number of benchmarks in their most recent data than the other schools and colleges in the sample, an average of 2.70 compared to 1.89. This suggests that a sustained engagement with the benchmarks can help to improve your careers programme.
  • Schools with a sixth form on average report 3.4 percentage points less on the Overall Benchmark Score than those without a sixth form. This echoes long-standing concerns that 11-18 schools are focused on retaining students into their own sixth form and on the university route for progression rather than on the broader approach to careers encapsulated in the Gatsby Benchmarks.
  • Schools and colleges in areas with higher unemployment and lower professional employment provide slightly better careers programmes than those in more advantaged areas.
  • Schools and colleges in the Enterprise Adviser Network (EAN) score 6.3 percentage points better on the Overall Benchmark Score than those who are not in the EAN.
  • Schools and colleges which hold the Quality in Careers Standard, score 13.1 percentage points better on the Overall Benchmark Score than those which do not hold the award.
Read the full report here

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said:

“The positive news is that we are moving in the right direction and getting closer to offering all young people the support they so fundamentally need

“Resources are tight for schools and colleges at the moment, which makes this steady progress all the more impressive. It’s encouraging to see schools and colleges are so engaged and that 3,000 have assessed themselves against the Gatsby Benchmarks.

“But the Gatsby Benchmarks set a deliberately high bar, and as a country we are still a long way offThe Careers Strategy set out a range of support for schools and colleges that will not yet be reflected in these results. This includes training for 1,400 Careers Leaders and 20 Careers Hubs across the country. We look forward to seeing the results of this extra support next year.

“It is a testament to our schools and colleges that so much progress is being made so fast. This work is vital for our young people and our economy.”

We recognise the challenges that schools are facing to deliver against the Gatsby Benchmarks against a backdrop of cuts and other pressures and are pleased to see things moving forward. We look forward to tracking how these changes are reaching and impacting young people through our Youth Voice Census.

For further information: Contact us by phone on 01536 680916 or email us at

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