University Tips Blog
Image of a teacher having a conversation with a university practitioner
A headshot image of the author, Oliver Stacey

by Oliver Stacey

Regional Student Recruitment Officer (South West) at the University of South Wales

posted on 28 Mar '22

How universities can support you to achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks

Looking at my own transition from a History Teacher, to Careers Adviser, to University Student Recruitment Officer, I have seen how careers and higher education outreach can enrich and enhance learning from a variety of perspectives. Due to our growing familiarity and confidence with technology, it is an exciting time to explore new practise and re- embed Gatsby in a ‘blended’ world.

Be creative when providing experiences of a workplace (Gatsby Benchmark 6)

I am sure at some point we’ve all been guilty of simply repeating, what has worked before. However, having worked with so many Careers Advisers, we are involved in many projects that have helped to push the boundaries of what is possible.

In one example, using a combination of employers, apprenticeships and higher education providers, the school facilitated work experience with a range of career paths. This consisted of a formal application based on student preference, a blended delivery of physical and remote working, then finally feedback from the employer on the application and performance of each student.

Other examples have included a staff CPD session to share their top tips on how they engage with higher education and careers in their subject area. Utilising their creativity and problem solving, as well as some examples I shared from workshops, this session gave school staff a number of ‘takeaways’ they could replicate in their own curriculum area.

A personalised approach (Gatsby Benchmarks 3 and Gatsby Benchmark 8)

Benchmarks 3 and 8 focus in on the needs of the individual. This is something we all as a sector could do better by empowering student choice. Rather than just booking a university in for a talk or one workshop for the whole year group, why not book in several providers and give students a choice on the session that they attend? For example, Pathways into Policing, Financial Trading and Design Problems. This greater breadth of subject and university providers gives students a much broader exposure to their next step.

Whilst it may be impossible in the immediate term, it is worth considering whether mixing age groups and allowing the student to select a sector led/taster session? Certainly, Key Stage 3 or Key Stage 4 could be mixed, and this would provide a more industry led environment as often we work with a variety of different ages, experience and expertise.

Another outcome of the pandemic has been the amount of one-to-one support we’ve been able to offer Schools and Colleges with sessions on Personal Statements and Impressing at Interviews. The improved flexibility and ability to view and edit the document live ensures valuable feedback is available after the conclusion of the session.

Image of two colleagues planning Gatsby activities

Improving the use of labour market information

One area that has improved over the past 18 months is that many School Liaison teams understand requirements on schools through the Gatsby Benchmarks. As a result of this, many universities have developed more faculty sessions. For example, Careers in Sport which not only helps link elements of the curriculum to future careers for students by raising awareness of the breadth of the subject area, but also provides examples of sector specific labour market Information.

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