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Careers Facilitator Network

A network supporting school and college careers staff at all levels to collaborate on individual and shared projects and events, and to access training tailored to local needs. 


Head Teachers / School Leaders, School Teachers

Aimed at

KS3, KS4, KS5


Careers & Aspirations, Empowering Young People, Transition



Why was the project needed?

Headteachers identified that the range of offers and providers for schools was overwhelming, both locally and nationally, and capacity for schools to engage was limited. Many Norwich schools were not yet fully meeting the expectations set in the Government’s 2017 Careers Strategy, for schools to meet the Gatsby benchmarks by 2020, and not all schools were achieving enough employer encounters. It also wasn’t clear which employer encounters were the most effective at delivering positive outcomes for disadvantaged young people.  

Employers in Norwich told us they were enthusiastic about supporting young people but found it hard to know how best to help. Young people in Norwich told us they wanted a curriculum that prepared them for working life, provided effective careers advice and delivered more encounters with employers – particularly hearing from young, local role models.

What happened and what was the impact?

Careers facilitators in every Norwich secondary school worked together to improve their Compass scores against all 8 Gatsby benchmarks, to share best practice approaches and to organise and deliver large scale employer engagement activities collaboratively, to save time and resources. 

The Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA) Aspirations, Transitions & Destinations working group agreed that supporting and strengthening the infrastructure for careers education was the priority and coordinating the best use of available support and opportunities.

An expert provider was commissioned to deliver a two-year programme of continuing professional development (CPD) and support and to facilitate regular meetings to develop a peer network. All local secondary schools were encouraged to sign up to participate. Twelve school-based staff signed up and were trained in delivering the Gatsby benchmarks across NOA secondary schools through a series of CPD workshops. These provided additional expertise and capacity for existing Careers Leaders in schools to support students. The group developed a collaborative network and met together once a month for CPD workshops, facilitated by our external provider, Form The Future.

Sessions included updates from numerous careers and enterprise providers for schools to understand the variety of available offers and plan them into a cohesive and high-quality programme for their students.

Careers facilitators were encouraged to share, review and improve their individual school careers strategies and created action plans to address short term gaps.

Working together, the careers facilitators designed and delivered two large scale employer engagement activities across Norwich, to improve the quality and breadth of careers events offered and to save time and resources in organisation.

What did and didn't work?

Providing a programme of high quality CPD tailored to participant needs, alongside providing additional capacity for individuals to focus on careers within their own school and access to a network of peers, was highly effective. Careers facilitators valued the time to collaborate and to share progress and current barriers together as a group. Joint, large-scale employer engagement activities were well received and saved time and resource when schools worked collaboratively. 

The collaborative network supported careers facilitators to share, review and improve their individual school careers strategies, this improved confidence significantly. 

“Network meetings have been incredibly useful, the sharing of ideas, experience and best practice has been invaluable.” 

 “I find the careers facilitators network really useful and when others share useful insights and tips it gives me confidence with what I’m doing.” 

Two large-scale employer engagement events were attended by over 1,200 students from across Norwich. The events were positively received by students, parents and teachers, with 88% of participating students saying they had learnt about new post-16 options and felt more informed about their potential next steps and more confident about their future. 

“A terrific event and very useful, we met providers we didn’t even know existed.” 

“As a school we would never be able to do something like this ourselves, or give our students this much information about options, so it was a real success.” 

The project originally included a “consultancy support” offer for schools to access individually. It was soon clear that the network and the opportunity for group learning were the strongest elements of the project so we used the consultancy hours to run additional CPD workshops for the network.

How did you measure success?

At the end of 2019/20 academic year, participating schools had consolidated their progress towards meeting the Gatsby benchmarks, outperforming the Opportunity Area average for its scores against 6 of the benchmarks, and outperforming the national average for its scores against 7 of the benchmarks. 

The NOA’s target was to create 36,837 meaningful employer encounters by July 2020 but this was exceeded with 68,218 (185% of the original target) employer encounters achieved by July 2020. 

This has contributed to 73% of schools in the NOA reporting to have fully achieved Gatsby benchmark 5 (encounters with employers and employees) and 27% having partially achieved it in the 2019 to 2020 academic year.


Ingredients For Success

Continuity and pace; regular monthly meetings with a consistent framework made the network cohesive. New members were incorporated well and could draw on the strength of the community. 

Building a trusted and active network; the time for schools’ careers staff to share, support and discuss barriers and solutions with each other was invaluable to improve the offer for pupils and to find creative ways to continue with careers provision during the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Finding a solution for the continuation of school career support; regular and ongoing support through wider partners is needed to ensure all schools continue to make good progress and to understand the changing landscape of new opportunities and initiatives.

Is the Project Complete or Ongoing

Funding for the Careers Facilitator project came to a planned end in July 2020, but the Careers Facilitator Network continues.

How is the Project Sustainable

Secondary headteachers have committed to continuing with two annual citywide careers events, with agreement from local stakeholders, businesses and venues to support. Most participating schools have committed to the ongoing provision of a named careers facilitator, using their own resources to continue their participation in the network meetings and to ensure dedicated additional time is focused on careers.   

Regular network meetings have been well attended throughout the Autumn Term, now chaired by the Enterprise Coordinator for Norwich, part of the New Anglia LEP Careers Hub. The programme includes a series of guest speakers, updates from local providers and schools sharing their own best practice and learning. 

What are the Long Term Impacts

Schools have valued the positive impact on the improved careers offer that pupils experience. We hope that the legacy of the project will be a continued positive impact on children’s and young people’s experiences of careers input and on their overall outcomes for employment.

Estimated Costs

The cost of the project over two academic years was £149,390.  This included £88,680 for school grants, to allow them to add capacity for careers facilitators to be released from their timetables to access CPD, network support and focus on developing their career strategies. In addition, £49,750 was spent on commissioning a package of support, training and expert advice to help schools develop the necessary skills and £10,960 to support schools to build employer networks and provide additional employer engagements. 

The Careers Facilitator Network continues to be a source of inspiration and support.  It provides up to date and timely advice, great contacts, inspiring discussion and ideas about resources which I might otherwise have been unaware of.

Careers Facilitator, Open Academy Norwich

Area Most Impacted

Careers & Aspirations

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Being a Careers Facilitator - The Wherry School

The network meets regularly to discuss, inform and promote local labour market information, as well as promoting opportunities and creating events that are beneficial to a wider network of schools.

Character Day - Jane Austen College

An example of an event that has come out of the Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA) Careers Facilitator Network project is our most recent Character Day. Character days at Jane Austen are a chance for students to be off timetable.

Joint Careers Event – Year 11 Options

Form the Future were commissioned by the Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA) to work with the Careers Facilitator (CF) Network to re-produce an event Form the Future first delivered with NOA in 2019.

Next steps to do something similar yourself

These are a list of Big Idea resources that you can use to implement in your setting:

This is a description of the role of a careers facilitator:

The Careers Facilitator Network has featured as a case study in the DfE Insight Guide for Careers:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Effective Professional Development here

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Putting Evidence to Work here

Champions and contacts



Hub Contact Details

Anne Bailey, CEO

Form The Future CIC, 47 Norfolk Street



Norwich Opportunity Area Team
Madeleine Matthews, Enterprise Coordinator

New Anglia LEP, Centrum, Norwich Research Park Colney Lane

Norwich, Norfolk


Norwich Opportunity Area Team
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