The Eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks

The Government has a new Careers Strategy for Schools and Colleges, underpinned by what are being called the eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks. They are designed to create a world-class careers education and aren’t meant to just be a box-ticking exercise – they aim to help pupils make much better long-term career choices, impacting their well-being and happiness for many years ahead. Getting good GCSEs or A Levels are important milestones, but knowing what to do next is just as vital. 

Here are the eight Gatsby Benchmarks, taken from the Gatsby Website:

1. A stable careers programme

2. Learning from career and labour market information

3. Addressing the needs of each pupil

4. Linking curriculum learning to careers

5. Encounters with employers and employees

6. Experiences of workplaces

7. Encounters with further and higher education

8. Personal guidance

What has this got to do with maths teachers, after all you haven’t signed up to be a careers advisor?

1. You care about your pupils and want the best for them.  Poor careers advice can lead to wasted years and lack of job satisfaction or earning power. 

2. As a maths teacher you are often well placed to give careers advice.  You see your pupils several times a week, whereas your pupils might see their careers advisor a few times a year. 

3. Maths teachers may often be knowledgeable on the more specialised mathematical careers. It is hard for a careers advisor to always stay up to speed with every sector.  Ideally maths teachers should work together with careers advisors to improve knowledge and understanding.  

4. You may be particularly well placed to give advice on studying maths in Higher Education.

5.  It is often the most disadvantaged pupils who will benefit most from good careers advice, as they may not have access to this advice at home.  This means you have a chance to really make a difference.

6. Inspire your pupils – if they can see an end goal to their maths studies it should help motivate them day to day.  

What can a maths teacher do to help implement the Gatsby Benchmarks? 

1. A stable careers programme

Senior leadership will work with other staff to plan a stable careers programme across the whole school.  As a new maths teacher, you might not be in charge of implementing this particular Gatsby benchmark just yet, but you could be in a few years’ time. 

2. Learning from career and labour market information

Careers advice can’t stand still, it needs to be updated in response to the constantly changing labour market.  As a Maths Scholar you will have free membership of several professional bodies and will be able to stay up to date with the latest trends. Also try reading the following articles on the IMA MathsCareers website:

The importance of maths to everyday life: what the Bond Report has to say
Where do maths graduates actually work?

Do mathematicians earn more?

Keep an eye on the news. There are plenty of articles which appear about the changing world of work. 

3. Addressing the needs of each pupil

Make sure you can relate to different types of pupils, and give useful advice in lots of different situations. What would you say to a middle ability pupil who wants a maths focused career?  How would you help someone who needs advice on Oxbridge admissions? What about an A Level student who wants to pursue an apprenticeship using their maths skills? You don’t need to be an expert – do some research and come back to the pupil later on, speak to maths colleagues and school careers advisors, and remember that you don’t need all the answers.  

4. Linking curriculum learning to careers

Embed careers links throughout your teaching by using small activities to highlight the use of maths in the real world. Include comments about the relevance of maths in your daily teaching. It doesn’t need to be time consuming, and an off the cuff remark about maths careers could make a big difference to an individual pupil.  Try also to plan some bigger and more memorable activities – this might be as part of your school’s wider careers strategy.  

5. Encounters with employers and employees

Nothing beats meeting real life people in the world of work and it can be a huge eye opener for pupils who have been inside a school for most of their lives. If you don’t have any ready made links then you can contact the STEM ambassadors programme.

6. Experiences of workplaces

If it is suitable then support your students in finding a maths-based work experience placement.  Even if you don’t help them with setting one up, then you can give them ideas of who to contact. Read this article on math-based work experience for more advice.  

7. Encounters with further and higher education

Lots of universities have outreach programmes, and usually it will be down to the school maths department to arrange maths focused visits or receive visitors into school. Be willing to go the extra mile to build links with your local university, as seeing a place for real can’t be underestimated.  There are also University activities which are available nationwide such as the Alan Turing Cryptography competition which is run by the University of Manchester.

8. Personal guidance

When you look back to your own schooldays, did you get the right advice from your maths teachers or careers advisors? Perhaps you feel that you still don’t know enough about maths careers.  As a teacher it can be hard to make the time to learn about careers, however the best way to help your pupils is to improve your own knowledge, as this is the only way you will be able to provide guidance.  Regularly take a small amount of time to do a bit of research. Even if you only have ten minutes, it is amazing what you could learn.

Further reading

The UK’s top maths careers website  www.mathscareers.org.uk
Maths Matters Case Studies showing the importance of maths to cutting edge research

Plus Magazine – online maths magazine.