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Business & Economy

LEP careers pilot inspiring North East primary pupils, audit finds

A new programme to raise the standard of careers education in primary schools has made significant progress in its first year.

The Career Benchmarks Primary Pilot is a new project from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which aims to raise the aspirations and broaden the horizons of the region’s primary school pupils.

An independent audit commissioned by the LEP and the EY Foundation has found that, in its first year, the pilot achieved its aims of embedding career benchmarks within primary school settings.

The audit also found that benchmarks are effective at helping schools to design and deliver career-related learning across all year groups.

The pilot is running at 70 primary schools across two academic years (2019/20 and 2020/21) in all seven North East local authorities.

It builds on the success of the LEP’s Good Career Guidance Benchmark Pilot in secondary schools and colleges, which was recognised as transformational.

Evidence from the audit shows that the pilot is making good progress in building the capacity of schools to deliver a consistent, comprehensive, and high-quality career education for all pupils.

Some 72 per cent of schools that responded to the survey said that pupils are now aware of a more diverse range of career options, 81 per cent said that pupils better understand the links between what they are studying and future career options, and 89 per cent said that pupils are able to talk more about their career plans.

At least one school has fully achieved each of the eight benchmarks.

COVID-19 has had an impact on the pilot but it has not stopped progress.

Lucy Winskell, chair of the North East LEP, said: “It is wonderful that so much progress has already been made during the first year of our Career Benchmarks Primary Pilot.

“An effective early careers programme is vital as research has shown by the age of six, young people are beginning to form opinions about what they cannot do.

“By age 10 young people are beginning to make career limiting decisions, which solidify by age 14.”

Jodie McNally, head of young people services at EY Foundation, added: “I am delighted with the progress made by the Career Benchmarks Primary Pilot.

“Over the next year, I’m looking forward to seeing further progress, with pilot schools continuing to achieve the Benchmarks.

“In addition, the development of resources and the creation of a ‘community of learning’, where schools share best practice, will be a great way to help pupils learn more about the world of work.”