Improving Access to Rewarding Careers

Why this is an issue

We know that educational attainment alone is not enough to improve social mobility. If young people do not have the right information or support to make effective choices, we cannot expect to see improvements in access to rewarding careers or changes in social mobility.

In our conversations with school leaders, teachers, employers and professionals, the same concern has been repeated: Bradford has a culture of low expectations, which stops its young people aiming high and denies them the support to go further. We know
that confidence, self-awareness and responsibility in relation to personal and social
development are vital to raising aspirations and helping young people and their families
make the best life choices. Helping young people develop these skills must therefore
be part of our plan.

There is no one specific piece of data that proves a lack of aspiration or expectation.
The data we have collected suggests that across Bradford, families, children and young
people’s ambitions and decisions about their education – both academic and cultural –
and careers are being constrained by where they live. Their family income, experiences at school and in their local communities also play a role.

While Bradford performs better than average in respect to the proportion of students
who progress to higher education after key stage 5 (54% of all students compared
to 49% nationally and 50% of disadvantaged students compared to 44% nationally),
the proportion who attend a top third higher education institution is below the national
average (10% of all students compared to 17% nationally and 4% of disadvantaged
students compared to 10% nationally). The level of persistent pupil absence in Bradford’s primary and secondary schools is 5 percentage points higher than the national average, prompting the local authority prioritise action on attendance in its latest Children’s Plan.

What we’ve done

Invest in careers and enterprise education in schools following the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s 8 career benchmarks and provide:

  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

As an OA, Bradford’s schools are already guaranteed support to improve the quality of their careers and enterprise education. Schools are now using the Careers and Enterprise Company’s (CEC) ‘Compass’ tool to assess the quality of their careers provision. CEC, in partnership with Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, will appoint three Enterprise Coordinators to help schools and colleges act on the results of their ‘Compass’ assessments, including developing a careers and enterprise and employer engagement plan. Each school and college will have access to an Enterprise Adviser (a senior volunteer from business), who will help to develop relationships with other local employers. To embed best practice in careers and employability, we will train careers leaders in schools to ensure that the action on careers and enterprise education, as described by the Gatsby benchmarks, remain a priority for senior leaders and governors.

Our targets for 2020 to 2021

  • Every Bradford 11 to 18-year-old will have had the opportunity to benefit from at least 4 meaningful encounters with employers.
  • We will have supported 2,400 5 to 18-year-olds to develop essential life skills through OA commissioned programmes.