Brightside and the Gatsby Benchmarks

For National Careers Week, Brightside Project Manager Chris Mattinson explains how our mentoring projects can help schools to meet the Gatsby Good Career Guidance Benchmarks.

‘Every young person needs high-quality career guidance to make informed decisions about their future’. This is the mission behind the eight Gatsby Benchmarks, to ensure that schools offer good career guidance and raise the aspirations of young people. This clearly aligns with Brightside’s own mission, to support young people to make confident and informed decisions about their future. Brightside mentoring can be a way for schools to work towards the Gatsby Benchmarks, using trained mentors to work with pupils to think about their future options through personalised and tailored support.

Brightside mentoring can be used to work towards several of the Gatsby Benchmarks, and can also be embedded into careers programmes as a whole in order to offer a stable careers programme (Benchmark 1). A stable careers programme is essential for young people to see how to join the dots between interventions, and to see how they are progressing through the careers programme. Brightside mentoring can be a standalone intervention, but it can also bring together key points of learning across interventions and provide space for pupils to consider what they have learnt across a careers programme and discuss it with their mentor. Brightside mentoring allows pupils to develop their knowledge of careers through tailored and individual support from their mentor, to take what they have learnt on careers programmes and apply it to themselves and their own future journeys, allowing the needs of each pupil to be addressed (Benchmark 3).

Brightside mentoring projects use different models, which cater towards a variety of the benchmarks. Our Sector Insight model, for example, asks pupils to choose a sector that particularly interests them (such as healthcare, business, engineering, creative industries) and be matched to a mentor from the corresponding area who currently works in that industry. Using a mixture of 1:1 mentoring and e-learning, pupils work with their mentor to learn more about their chosen industry, providing them with an insight into how that industry works, different pathways into it, the variety of roles available  and the qualifications they could study. Sector insight allows pupil to reflect on their current studies and how these will impact their future choices, thereby linking the curriculum to careers and showing pupils the right now value of Brightside mentoring and how it can impact their future choices (Benchmark 4). This model also provides ongoing encounters with employers and employees as they learn about both the industry and the how the mentor they have been paired with got to where they are today (Benchmark 5).

Our Higher Education Explore model works in a similar way, pairing pupils with current higher education students in order for pupils to decide whether university is right for them and, if it is, how to get there and what they might want to study. HE Explore provides pupils with encounters with higher education through their conversations with their mentor, as they learn what it is like to study at a higher education level from someone doing so right now (Benchmark 7). This model can also be combined with e-learning to help students decide if higher education is for them, and can also be followed by our HE Apply model, which provides support on writing personal statements and making final choices on applications.

We also offer a Pre-16 model which provides a more general insight into future options, and can be targeted based on what will work best for the pupils taking part. For example, students often complete work experience in Year 10. Our Pre-16 model could be used to prepare students for work experience through being matched with a current industry professional to help them think about navigating the workplace, or used retrospectively to reflect on their experience of workplaces and thinking about how this will now shape their post-16 options (Benchmark 6).

The best careers guidance interventions are joined up and show pupils how to connect the dots on their careers journey. Brightside mentoring can be used to support schools in meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks across several key transition points throughout the student lifecycle, to enable all students to make confident and informed decisions about their future.