University Tips Blog
Image of Gatsby Benchmarks being ticked off as completed by a teacher
A headshot image of the author, Jon Cheek

by Jon Cheek


posted on 9 Dec '20

A school and college guide to working in partnership with universities to support your Gatsby priorities

Please note: this blog is using content provided by Grace Sheldon, whilst working with Greater Manchester Higher. It was used in the UniTasterDays Teachers' Guide to University brochure.

Since the Gatsby Benchmarks came to prominence in the government’s statutory careers guidance, they’ve become increasingly important in shaping school and college relationships with universities.

Many universities and collaborative partnerships (such as the Uni Connect programme) map their outreach provision to the Gatsby Benchmarks so schools/colleges can easily see how activities support their CEIAG priorities.

Benchmark 7 is the ‘bread and butter’ and yes, institutions can organise campus visits (with restrictions) but they can support with so much more!

Below is a very brief summary of how universities can provide support across ALL 8 of the benchmarks:

Gatsby Benchmark 1. A stable careers programme

University outreach is most effective when delivered as part of a progressive programme. Careers Leaders should work closely with local outreach staff to plan a package of activity that helps deliver their strategic careers plan.

Gatsby Benchmark 2. Learning from career and labour market information

Whilst university outreach teams are not labour market specialists, many will be working with local organisations such as the Careers and Enterprise Company to deliver activities that reflect the local high-level skills need. An example would be a STEM taster day, that brings together employers and academics to highlight industry routes.

Gatsby Benchmark 3. Addressing the needs of each pupil

Most universities deliver activity targeted at specific groups such as looked after children and care leavers, disabled students, young carers and other specific pupil groups. Some will also deliver 1-2-1 interventions such as mentoring. If specific student needs are discussed in advance, outreach staff can tailor support appropriately.

Gatsby Benchmark 4. Linking curriculum learning to careers

The government has been encouraging universities to do more to support attainment raising in school over the last few years, therefore some universities will offer activities that directly support the national curriculum such as English and Maths tuition or teacher CPD.

Gatsby Benchmark 5. Encounters with employers and employees

A number of university outreach activities will involve employers (usually alumni) as guest speakers to talk about their journey into employment. Some mentoring programmes will also connect learners with people in industry

Gatsby Benchmark 6. Experiences of workplaces

Some university outreach programmes may include visits to workplaces alongside sessions delivered in school/college and on campus.

Gatsby Benchmark 7. Encounters with further and higher education

Universities offer talks, visits and taster sessions that support all elements of Benchmark 7. These activities are most effective when delivered as part of a whole school strategic plan. Targeting those students that will most benefit from the activities is also important. Most universities do not have the capacity to support whole year group visits and some activities will have specific learner targeting criteria due to how the activity is funded.

Gatsby Benchmark 8. Personal guidance

Some universities will also deliver 1-2-1 interventions such as mentoring or personal statement support.

Finally - A top tip:

The key to making the most of what universities can offer is effective planning and collaborative working. Discuss both your school/college priorities and those of the university/collaborative network, then work together to create a plan that works for both! This is more likely to result in sustainable impact than a one off request.

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