When it comes to childhood education, there are a lot of boxes to tick. Curriculum, wellbeing, benchmarks, exams… But is this tightly woven and strictly regulated structure of learning doing the most important job of all? Is it preparing students for the world of work?
Getting Ready for Work – The Situation in 2016
A 2016 Ofsted Report entitled ‘Getting Ready for Work’, found that schools were failing to give students an ‘enterprise education’. In short, the academic curriculum failed to provide practical experience to students to prepare them for work in the real world.
What’s more, where schools did attempt to create careers-focused education, it was unclear whether it had any real impact.
Finally, schools’ performance on the Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Career Guidance were falling short.
The Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Career Guidance
The Gatsby Benchmarks comprise of eight focuses that are used to measure how well schools prepare students for their future careers.
These benchmarks are:
- A stable careers programme
- Learning from career and labour market information
- Addressing the needs of each pupil
- Linking curriculum learning to careers
- Encounters with employers and employees
- Experiences of workplaces
- Encounters with further and higher education
- Personal guidance
Enterprise Education in 2019
Fortunately, things are improving since the 2016 report. Nearly 4,000 schools completed the Compass self-assessment tool to give data that forms the essential State of the Nation Report.
This year, the State of the Nation Report 2019 has found that:
- There has been progress on every benchmark of the Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Career Guidance
- Four of these benchmarks were met with particular strength: Encounters with employers and employees, linking curriculum learning to careers, establishing a stable careers programme, and encounters with further and higher education.
- Almost all Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have at least one school or college achieving 7 or more benchmarks
- At least 2 million young people are now receiving an encounter with an employer every year.
The really great news is that this improvement is part of a long-term trend. In 2014, schools were meeting, on average, only 1.34 of the eight Gatsby benchmarks. Today, the average is three.
There’s clearly a long way to go before schools are unanimously and consistently meeting all eight benchmarks, but the fact that improvement has occurred year on year for the last five years is promising.
In Higher Education, ‘Enterprise Education’ is becoming more popular as a means of preparing students for the world of work.
Enterprise Education is defined as:
“[education that] provides interventions that are focused on supporting behaviours, attributes and competencies that are likely to have a significant impact on the individual student in terms of successful careers, which in turn adds economic, social and cultural value to the UK.”
Enterprise education is:
- Contextual – everything learned is related back to the world of work
- Action-based, practical, and experiential – students are encouraged to face problems and create solutions
- Cross-disciplinary – students from different subjects are encouraged to work together to meet mutual goals – just like you would in the workplace. For example, a creative writer and a web developer might work together to create a business website
- Focused on creating contact between learners and relevant thought leaders such as alumni, entrepreneurs and industry specialists
- Encouraging of entrepreneurship.
As a new educational initiative (2018), enterprise education has been praised by the British Government’s Chief Entrepreneurial Adviser and used to inform international initiatives such as the European Commission’s EntreComp Framework.
Are Schools Preparing their Students for the World of Work?
The answer is: they’re trying. Schools are getting closer to reaching essential benchmarks for preparing students for careers – although there is a long way to go. Partnered with new initiatives such as enterprise education, and we’ve got a future that is looking bright when it comes to preparing students for the world of work.
If you’re interested in a career in education, contact Brooks and Kirk today to find out how to become an NVQ Assessor.