An international delegation from Hong Kong’s education sector joined education specialists from Rhondda Cynon Taf Education, Employment and Training team in Wales on a visit to the North East to learn about the region’s successful delivery of the Gatsby Career Benchmarks.

Organised by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), the two-day visit saw the Hong Kong and Welsh delegates visit schools successfully implementing the Gatsby Career Benchmarks – eight benchmarks that provide a framework for good career guidance – and hear from the North East LEP Skills team that delivered the Benchmarks pilot in partnership with sixteen schools and colleges across the North East.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP said: “After the success of the North East pilot, the Gatsby Career Benchmarks became part of Government’s national careers strategy and now forms statutory guidance for schools on providing careers guidance.

“Because of this, many education institutions, bodies and funding organisations want to learn from the North East LEP about how we have engaged schools and colleges with the Benchmarks and continue to support their delivery.

“Following our work on the pilot, the North East LEP launched North East Ambition; a programme that works to ensure all schools and colleges in the North East are delivering the Benchmarks by 2024.

“We know the transformational impact the Benchmarks have in delivering careers guidance and we’re delighted to be able to share our learning with colleagues from the UK and abroad.”

The delegation from Hong Kong included The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, CLAP for Youth and Hong Kong Children & Youth Services.

Three representatives from Rhondda Cynon Taf Education, Employment and Training team also joined the visit to the North East.

The group visited Studio West studio school in Newcastle and Harton Academy in South Shields to learn from both staff and pupils about their positive experiences of achieving the Gatsby Career Benchmarks.

Stewart Fraser, Business Engagement Manager at Studio West said: “We were delighted to host this valuable learning visit and showcase the important work we do integrating employer engagement into every aspect of our work. We are excited to be able to share innovation in delivering the Gatsby Benchmarks and demonstrate models of providing students with meaningful encounters with employers.”

Alongside the visits from Hong Kong and Wales’ education sectors, the North East LEP also welcomed colleagues from 20 Local Enterprise Partnerships to the region in its role as Gatsby Benchmarks Cornerstone Hub for The Careers and Enterprise Company.

The North East LEP was named Cornerstone Hub in recognition of its skills and expertise in implementing the Gatsby Career Benchmarks in schools and colleges across the North East. Its role is to help other LEPs to embed all eight Benchmarks in their areas.

Michelle said: “As well as being a Cornerstone Hub for the country, the North East LEP is also home to the England’s only dedicated College Hub, which works with further education to deliver the Gatsby Career Benchmarks.”

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership gave a series of talks and presentations to both groups about its delivery of the pilot and the successful work it has continued with schools and colleges across the LEP region to ensure each and every child has the opportunity to access to quality careers education.

Michelle continued: “The Gatsby Career Benchmarks pilot really demonstrated what could be achieved in our region through partnership working with education and industry.

“The work of the North East LEP and its partners means we are in a unique position to support other LEPs, and schools and colleges to achieve the Benchmarks.

“We’ve built on that success by expanding our Enterprise Advisor initiative to more than 100 schools and colleges across the region. It’s inspiring to see so many North East business leaders volunteering their expertise to support schools and colleges in shaping the delivery of careers education.

“In 2018 we also launched the ground-breaking Education Challenge programme, which sees three North East schools piloting a new, project-based model of learning that places employer engagement at the heart of the curriculum.

“I’m extremely proud the North East is recognised nationally and internationally as an example of best practice in delivering careers guidance. It’s testament to the impact the Gatsby Career Benchmarks have that so many countries across the world want to match our success.”