Meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks (Virtually)

In the Covid-19 ‘new normal’ schools are innovating in a number of ways to pivot their career provision.  There are a number of ways to use Inspiring the Future and icould to support young people to have meaningful encounters with employers and employees (Gatsby Benchmark 5) and virtual experiences of the world of work (Gatsby Benchmark 6), among others.   

Developed together with teachers and career leaderswe have trialled and tested virtual interactive ways to enable young people to connect with volunteers from the world of work across all different backgrounds and sectors with robust safeguarding in place.   

Tips for meeting Gatsby Benchmark 5 virtually:  

  • Access our Teacher CPD webinar: Creating Meaningful Virtual Encounters here that runs through a simple step-by-step demonstration of how to create virtual interactive sessions and explore other schools’ examples of sessions that you can plan to meet Gatsby Benchmark 5 
  • Consider the learning outcomes for your students and then set up your virtual interactive activity on Inspiring the Future. Invite volunteers  – go wild, we’ve literally thousands of people ready to inspire your students. Our recent signups include someone who manages major sporting events for the UK to a critical care nurse at a hospital and everything in between. You can access volunteers who work locally to your school and/or those in sectors and areas of the UK you wouldn’t normally be able to meet.  
  • Prepare students for the activity using the resources on the portal and access to videos on including the Buzz quiz which helps students consider their strengths and potential careers linked to these.  
  • Hold your online activity with volunteers – by asking questions in real time live events, students get that two-way interaction. Finish up with some reflections, enabling your students to record what they’ve learnt as part of Compass.

Tips for meeting Gatsby Benchmark 6 virtually:  

  • Whilst most workplaces are unable to host the traditional week/two week work experience, virtual activities can provide extensive two-way interaction as a virtual alternative to the traditional work experience week.   
  • Volunteers working from home can show videos and pictures of projects they’re working on or provide a live example of work by sharing their screen. For volunteers still in their employer’s office or workplace, virtual interactions can include a tour of the facilities with appropriate safeguarding in place. 
  • Activities can be complemented by using icould video stories and the accompanying Labour Market Information located below each video. Ask students to find a role that appeals to them and then to find a further two or three related roles – these could be jobs in the same sector or requiring a similar skillset.   
  • Plan ample time for questions and answers during live sessions to ensure encounters are two-way and students actively participate. 
  • You might want to work with volunteers to identify an appropriate follow-up task or project, or create your own. This could include a general activity, such as developing a presentation to show key tasks and skills needed day-to-day in a role related to the volunteer, or something specifically related to the role. For example,
    • For a marketing or communications role, task students with developing a plan to engage a younger customer base via social media 
    • For a design role, task students with designing a new office or building for the company they heard about 
    • For a HR role, task students with looking at how they would improve the company culture now staff are working virtually 
  • If your volunteer is able, and if you are intending for this activity to meet the benchmark criteria of ‘performing a task or producing a piece of work relevant to that workplace and receive feedback from the employer’, you could arrange a virtual feedback session. 

What are the Gatsby Benchmarks and how can we help evidence them?   

The Department for Education adopted the Gatsby Benchmarks as the benchmarks of best practice careers provision.  With a network of thousands of employee volunteers from the world of work and our additional offers via projects for schools, Inspiring the Future can help schools to evidence their alignment with five of the benchmarks, detailed below.  

Careers is given a high profile in the new Ofsted inspection framework taking effect from September 2019.  Inspectors will judge whether the school is providing an effective careers programme in line with the government’s statutory guidance on careers advice that offers pupils: unbiased careers advice, experience of work, and contact with employers to encourage pupils to aspire, make good choices and understand what they need to do to reach and succeed in the careers to which they aspire.  Here’s how Inspiring the Future can help. 

Click here to read our latest leaflet on the Gatsby Benchmarks. 

  • Benchmark 3 Addressing the needs of each pupil: Our highly successful Inspiring Women campaign has long sought to tackle gender stereotypes and we have a range of inspiring women who’ve chosen career paths that might traditionally be seen as for men. We are proud of the diversity of our volunteers and schools can now search for volunteers who are keen to talk about things such as inclusion or working with a disability. 
  • Benchmark 4 Linking curriculum learning to careers: Schools can search for volunteers who use particular subjects in their job and invite them in to help motivate and inspire. Because our volunteers come from all walks of life, what about bringing in someone who uses STEM but as part of a theatre’s backstage production crew, or business studies but is working for the NHS? Check out the videos and search by subject type to complement live activities. 
  • Benchmark 5 Encounters with employers and employees: Inspiring the Future is all about helping schools set up encounters with employers and employees and it’s the research from our team at Education and Employers that helped make the economic case for doing this. Schools can use our interactive mapping to search for local volunteers and invite them to a range of activities or tick virtual and access the full database of volunteersThousands of volunteers from apprentice to CEO are available nationally. 
  • Benchmark 6 Experiences of workplaces: Last year we added new out-of-school activities to the menu of options for schools and volunteers to choose from. This included work place visits, work experience and job shadowing. We put the power in the hands of schools to determine what works for them and their students and our staff are here to support and provide case studies and guidance. We also regularly run showcase events at employers which schools in our network can attend. 
  • Benchmark 7 Encounters with further and higher education: Volunteers specify whether they took an academic route, attended university and/or are able to speak about apprenticeships. Schools can therefore search for volunteers able to talk about a wide range of career pathways. We also have lots of volunteers working at universities on the system from Sheffield Hallam to University of Exeter. Our funded projects. including the ASK Project, also provide insights into vocational routes and connections to employers and training providers. 

To sign up for free or if you’d like to know more about how we can help your school evidence the Gatsby Career Benchmarks, please visit or email