Gatsby Benchmarks - An FAQ Quick Guide - Kloodle
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Gatsby Benchmarks – An FAQ Quick Guide

By April 15, 2020 April 21st, 2020 No Comments

They’re topical!

The Gatsby Benchmarks are very topical, featuring regularly and prominently in news about careers and education. They are explicitly referenced in the Department of Education’s Careers Strategy publication (See and also in the Government’s new Statutory Guidance for Careers (See 

But what exactly are these benchmarks? As a school, what do you have to do? How can Kloodle help you? In this article we address these questions and point you in the right direction for more information. 

The rationale behind the Gatsby Benchmarks

A young person’s knowledge depends on the careers’ guidance received at college or at home and this is very inconsistent. It means that a young person who goes to a school or college in a ‘cold spot’ or does not have access to ‘social capital’ at home will probably have fewer and make poorer career choices. This is unfair.

If young people knew what careers’ options were available to them, then they would be able make more informed choices about which qualifications and routes to take. Instead, children from less advantaged backgrounds tend to make choices based on limited information and options, believing that family, gender or ethnicity are restricting factors, in turn, conforming to this false ideology.

When and how were the Benchmarks devised?

In 2013 Sir John Holman was commissioned by the Gatsby Foundation to head a research team to determine what ‘pragmatic action’ could be undertaken to improve career guidance in secondary schools in the UK. By having good advice, individuals are less likely to make the wrong choices at the beginning of their career thus preventing difficulties later down the track. It also means that with the right advice, young people can be aspirational and believe that they can be socially mobile.

The subsequent report by Lord Sainsbury, who set up the Foundation, and Holman provided a definitive and comprehensive guide on the key aspects of ‘good’ career guidance. It also explored the associated costs for schools and the economic benefit for the economy as a whole of career development and compared this with evidence from The Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, Canada, Finland and Ireland.

Read about The Gatsby Foundation, straight from the horse’s mouth at

What are the specific Gatsby Benchmarks?

There are 8 benchmarks which constitute ‘good practice’ in career guidance. The report also stipulated recommendations on how to implement these benchmarks. Schools and colleges should use this guidance as a framework when setting their careers programmes.

The 8 Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance are:

Benchmark Meaning
A stable careers programme Every school should have an embedded programme of career education and guidance that is known and understood by pupils, parents, teachers and employers.
Learning from career and labour market information Every pupil and their parents should have access to good-quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities.
Addressing the needs of each pupil Opportunities for advice and support need to be tailored to the needs of each pupil. A school careers programme should embed equality and diversity considerations throughout. 
Linking curriculum learning to careers All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. For example, STEM subject teachers should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths.
Encounters with employers and employees Every pupil should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace.
Experiences of workplaces Every pupil should have first-hand experience of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience.
Encounters with further and higher education All pupils should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes both academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges universities and in the workplace.
Personal guidance Every pupil should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a careers’ adviser, who could be internal (a member of school staff) or external, provided they are trained to an appropriate level.



What do schools have to do and when?

All schools in the UK are now legally required to:

  • publish details of their careers’ programmes
  • name and install a “careers leader” to oversee the programmes
  • begin implementing and using the Gatsby Benchmarks, which reflect international best practice, to improve their careers provision
  • offer every pupil at the school “meaningful encounters” with employers over the course of their school career

By the end of 2020, schools will be expected to:

  • meet all of the requirements of the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks
  • offer every pupil at least seven “meaningful encounters” with employers over the course of their school career

Information about how schools can be supported to do this has been gathered from a two-year pilot in the north-east and integrated into an implementation plan developed by the Careers and Enterprise Company, as the organisation designated by the Government to coordinate the careers strategy.

The Careers and Enterprise have a comprehensive response to dealing with each benchmark in practice; this can be found at: 

Do most schools in the UK meet all of the Gatsby Benchmarks?

Not at all, but they’re getting closer! Most schools currently meet many of the benchmarks, but only partially. In its 2017 ‘State of the Nation’ report the Careers and Enterprise Company reported that on average schools meet only 1.87 of the 8 benchmarks.  

A screenshot of a cell phone

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According to the Careers & Enterprise Company, the sample of schools and colleges across the country which submit information, have improved their application of the Benchmarks. This is illustrated on the graphic opposite. It shows a big improvement albeit from a low base. However, some of the benchmarks require a lot of work to fulfil.


How do you implement the Benchmarks?

There is a free tool offered by the Careers and Enterprise Company, called Compass, which enables schools to self-assess against the benchmarks.  The output from Compass identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the institution’s current careers’ programme, effectively their level of compliance, and from this they can determine what they need to do to address to put a plan in place to achieve compliance to the Benchmarks.

To learn more about the Compass tool, read here:

The next step is to contact the local Careers adviser via the Careers and Enterprise Company. Here is a link to find your local adviser:

Case study in being Gatsby compliant

The Government recommends that all schools should work towards a quality standard for careers education, information, advice and guidance (known as ‘CEIAG’) as an effective means of carrying out a self-review and evaluation of the school’s programme. Career Mark is a Licensed Awarding Body of the Quality in Careers Standard and has undertaken a comprehensive mapping exercise to the Gatsby Benchmarks.  Achievement of the Quality in Careers Standard (QiCS) will lead to better careers’ guidance programmes because it will help institutions continuously improve their careers work. Working towards QiCS gives CEIAG a higher profile and increases the involvement of senior managers and, especially governors. Holding the Quality in Careers Standard demonstrates to those outside the institution (for example OfSTED) that a high standard has been reached.

The Department for Education strongly recommends that schools use the Quality in Careers Standard to externally validate their progress towards the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks. The Quality in Careers Standard is designed to accredit good practice and encourage development in schools, academies, colleges, special schools and PRUs/short stay schools.


Further detailed information on Gatsby

There are some excellent resources online which may help you think about the queries you may have. The best ones are:

The Careers and Enterprise Company has a comprehensive Q&Q for schools at

The expectations and career guidance which should be provided by schools and colleges is detailed by the Department of Education at:

There are flaws

Although the Gatsby Benchmarks are clearly valued by the Department for Education and represent good careers guidance, many in the careers’ profession consider them to have flaws.  Below are some of the most common weaknesses:

They do not have any reference to learning outcomes for what learners are expected to achieve. There is no reference to the Career Development Institute’s 11-19 framework.

Overall the attention to monitoring, reviewing, evaluating and improving careers programmes is quite weak.

There is no requirement for external validation/assessment of achievement of the benchmarks.

Watch this space, there may be improvements introduced in the future.

How can Kloodle help you meet the Benchmarks?

We are here to help. At Kloodle, we are finding that more and more colleges and schools across the UK are keen to adopt the Gatsby Benchmarks as soon as possible; partly as a way of satisfying Ofsted that the career guidance offered by the institution is sufficient to meet their standards, but also because it offers a framework through which the organisation can help their students meet their potential.

This chart below illustrates how Kloodle can be used to meet all of the Gatsby Benchmarks, all in one system.


 Colleges which adopt Kloodle can meet the requirements of all of the Benchmarks in one fell swoop. With Kloodle, you will be capable of improving your learners’ career aspirations, prompting social mobility and preparing them for the future world of work. Please contact Andrew Donnelly to arrange a demo ( ).

What can Kloodle do to help?

We have designed The Kloodle 8 Step Plan which can help you achieve the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks. See the detail here:

Case Study on using Kloodle to meet Gatsby

On our regular visits to schools and colleges up and down the country, careers’ departments have raised concerns about how to keep up with an ever-shifting commercial marketplace, together with how well learners are being prepared for a C21st workplace. 

Linking curriculum to careers is the major struggle we’ve encountered in our work with schools and colleges. Now with the Gatsby initiatives, advice surrounding careers will be forced up the agenda and Kloodle is an excellent way of connecting learners with companies. Each employer can set their own criteria regarding the skills deemed important for their organisation or for specific roles in the organisation. The Kloodle system allows employers to design and set, what we call, Activities which are relevant to specific roles. For example, if a role prioritises organisation and initiative, the Activity on Kloodle will set this as a task. Activities reduce the confusion surrounding careers advice; information couldn’t be any more current or relevant—it comes directly from the employer.



About Phill

Phillip is co-founder of Kloodle.