Careers Statutory Guidance

Careers guidance and access for education and training providers updated January 2023. The guidance aims to ensure that young people get a programme of careers education, information, advice, and guidance that is stable, structured and delivered by individuals with the right skills and experience.

Key paragraphs summary of the statutory guidance for schools and colleges

Gatsby Benchmarks

Described under the ‘careers system’ as ‘the framework to improve young peoples careers guidance’ (page 10). From pages 17 to 40, the DfE uses the eight Gatsby Benchmarks as subheadings to set out what schools and colleges should be doing in their careers provision. The narrative around Gatsby continues to be noticeably different to when the benchmarks were first introduced in 2018: 

• 2018 guidance: ‘the expectation is that schools should begin to work towards the benchmarks now and meet them by the end of 2020.’ 

• 2021, 2022 and 2023 guidance: ‘the department expects all schools and colleges to use the internationally recognised Gatsby Benchmarks to develop a careers programme’ (page 10) This language shift is most helpful, as it supports schools and colleges to recognise that the benchmarks and compass are there to show best practice and used to track progress.

The role of the Governing Body

 ‘the governing body should provide clear advice and guidance on which the school or college leader can base a strategic careers plan’ (page 14) ‘Every school and college should have a member of their governing body who takes a strategic interest in careers education and guidance and encourages employer engagement.’ (page 14) ‘The department urges senior leaders to back their careers team, especially their Careers Leader, and to invest in personal guidance provided by a qualified careers adviser.’ (page 8)

Careers Leaders

 ‘Every school and college should appoint a named person to the Careers Leader role: a dedicated professional who is a member of the senior leadership team, or works directly with them, and who is responsible and accountable for the delivery of the school or college careers programme.’ (page 17) ‘Schools and colleges are expected to appoint a Careers Leader who has the skills, commitment and backing from their senior leadership team, including protected time that enables the Careers Leader to carry out the role effectively.’ (page 11) ‘In schools, Careers Leaders should support teachers to build careers education and guidance into subjects across the curriculum’ (Page 29)

Support from the Careers and Enterprise Company 

Support referenced from the CEC includes:

Career Leader training – free training programmes supported by funding for bursaries to allow Careers Leaders to participate in training 

Careers Hubs – Schools and colleges participating in a hub for 4 + years have average compass score of 5.6 of the 8 benchmarks. 

COMPASS  – self assessment tool against the Gatsby Benchmarks – Schools and colleges on average achieve 4.9 of the 8 benchmarks.

COMPASS + – student level data system to help schools and colleges to benchmark, manage, track and report on their school/college careers provision. ‘Schools and colleges should keep comprehensive and accurate careers education’ (page 22)


The guidance states that ‘Schools and colleges should understand and plan for how careers guidance features in Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework and in the individual handbooks for maintained schools and academies and further education and skills. The education inspection framework includes careers guidance as part of a personal development judgement’. (page 12) ‘inspectors will assess the quality of careers information, education, advice and guidance and how well it benefits pupils in choosing and deciding on their next steps’ (page 12)

School and college website requirements

 ‘The department requires maintained schools and expects academies and colleges to publish the following information about their careers programme on their websites:

 • The name, email address and telephone number of the Careers Leader; 

• A summary of the careers programme, including details of how students, parents, teachers and employers may access information about the careers programme; 

• How the school or college measures and assesses the impact of the careers programme on students; 

• The date of the school’s or college’s next review of the information published.’ ‘Schools are already required by law to prepare a policy statement setting out the circumstances in which education and training providers will be given access to pupils. The new legislation requires schools to set out the times at which access is to be given and explain how they will meet the new legal requirement to put on six provider encounters.’ (page 44)

Provider Access Legislation

Pupils should meet with a range of providers to include FE colleges, independent training providers, institutes of technology, UTCs, Studio Schools and Other schools. ‘The school should not do anything which might limit the ability of pupils to attend. It would not be acceptable for schools to restrict invitations to selected groups of pupils or hold events outside of normal school hours.’ (page 47) The guidance sets out the process for compliance with the Access Legislation with details of how complaints should initially be ‘resolved locally’ initially through to outlining steps the Department will take for ‘persistent non-compliance’ (page 51). This is represented through the ‘ladder of support and intervention’ (page 53) outlining national, careers hub level and institutional support. The ladder starts at ‘support (CEC led)’ reminding schools of the requirements of the duty. It progresses (rung 2) to ‘Responding to concerns (CEC led)’ outlining careers hub interventions when there are issues between providers and schools. The third rung is ‘Responding to complaints (DfE led)’ letter from DfE with deadlines for action. The fourth and final rung on the ladder is ‘Intervention (DfE led)’ where ‘appropriate remedial action’ is to take place.


 ‘A successful careers guidance programme will also be reflected in higher numbers of students progressing to positive and sustained destinations such as apprenticeships, technical routes, school sixth forms, sixth form colleges, further education colleges, universities or employment.’ (page 13) ‘Schools and colleges should collect and analyse education, training and employment destinations data for all students. This data may help schools and colleges to identify pathways, subjects or courses with low take-up that could be addressed by changes to the careers programme.’ (page 22) ‘Schools should collect and maintain accurate data for each pupil on their education, training or employment destinations for at least three years after they leave school or from the end of KS4, whichever is sooner. (page 22)

Destinations data to local authorities 

‘Under section 72 of the Education and Skills Act 2008, schools and colleges are under a statutory duty to provide information to local authority services for them to deliver their relevant duties, and to track and maintain contact with these young people. For example:

• basic information such as the students name, address and date of birth; 

• other information that the local authority needs in order to support the young person to participate in education or training and to track their progress. This includes for example: students’ contact details including phone numbers, information to help identify those at risk of becoming NEET post-16, students’ post-16 and post-18 plans and the offers they receive of places in post-16 or higher education.’ Page 27

Targeted support

On pages 24-27 advice is targeted at SEND schools, as well as free schools and alternative education providers.

Employer Encounters and Experiences 

Gatsby 5 details are included to encourage schools and colleges to provide students with at least one encounter with an employer each year from age 11 (two encounters each year for colleges) ‘Schools and colleges should offer a varied range of employer encounters to students, progressive through the age range and tailored to individual need’ (page 31) Gatsby 6 details are also included to support schools and colleges to provide learners with at least one experience of the workplace by age 16 and a further experience by age 18

Personal Guidance 

‘The CDI guidance recommends that at least 45 minutes are allowed for every personal guidance interview.’ ‘Schools and colleges should make sure that careers advisers (internal and external) providing personal guidance to students are trained to the appropriate level. The main Level 6 and 7 qualifications for careers advisers are the Qualification in Career Development (QCD) at Level 7, (which replaces the earlier Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG) and PG Diploma in Career Guidance), the Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development and the Level 6 Higher Apprenticeship: Career Development Professional.’ ‘The department recommends that schools and colleges view the UK Register of Career Development Professionals, held by the CDI, to search for a careers adviser who can deliver a particular service or activity. Registration shows that a careers adviser is qualified to at least Level 6 in a career development subject, abides by the CDI Code of Ethics and undertakes regular professional development.’ (page 40)

Quality in Careers Standard and Matrix

We strongly recommend that all schools and colleges work towards the single national Quality in Careers Standard to support the development of their careers programme.’ (page 13

‘We require colleges to hold the matrix standard if they are in receipt of funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency adult education budget.’ (Page 13)

Careers Development Framework

‘Schools and colleges should identify and agree learning outcomes for students taking part in the activities organised under the eight Gatsby Benchmarks. Schools and colleges can consider using the Career Development Framework, published by the Career Development Institute, to shape career learning outcomes within the careers programme.’ (Page 17)

Last update: Tuesday 31st of January 2023 01:00:44 PM