The Chairperson welcomed the officers to the meeting and invited them to present the report.
The Gatsby Project Manager supported her report with a presentation to members, which gave an overview of the Gatsby Benchmark Good Career Pilot. She explained that the pilot gives a commitment to each and every child within the RCTCBC area between the ages of 11-18, to receive the highest quality career experiences to provide them with the opportunity and confidence to achieve success and fulfilment in their working lives.
The Gatsby Project Manager advised members that the benchmarks had been devised, arising from research from the Gatsby Foundation and they were:
Upon conclusion of the presentation, the Chairperson invited members of the Committee to ask questions of the Gatsby Project Manager.
A member applauded the efforts of the Project Manager for her work on the pilot. He added that the Committee should also recognise the accolade of Hayley Jacobs, Career Leader at Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive who had been shortlisted twice for the prestigious UK wide Career Development Institute Career Leader of the Year award and winning the title in 2021. He recommended that a personal letter of congratulations from the Committee be sent to Hayley Jacobs and also Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School who had featured in the BBC Teach programme.
Another member congratulated the Gatsby Project Manager on the work in the pilot and felt it captured many of the concerns and challenges that young people faced. She asked for more information on the availability of good quality work placements for young people to support them in their aspirations. She asked also if school staff were still able to provide a mentoring process to students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Gatsby Project Manager responded that the role of the career leader can be described as the career conductor of the school. They work alongside herself to create a career plan that is individual and bespoke to each school and considering individuals that need to look outside of their own community for opportunities. She added that the Gatsby Benchmark plan ensured that the governing body and the senior leadership team at each of the schools involved were updated on the progress of the Gatsby profile on a termly basis. She further added that the Employment, Education and Training team were also involved and had developed some bespoke mentoring for individuals.
In terms of work experience placements, she informed members that they worked very closely with schools to offer and identify high-level placements for the young people in RCT, particularly throughout the pandemic where a number of virtual work experience placements were successfully delivered. She added that whilst the country were going through the global pandemic, they didn’t feel it was fair that the class of 2020 were to miss out on what they consider vital placements and opportunities.
A Member asked what the intention was on reporting the outcomes of the pilot and the impact for learners and how success was measured. The member also asked for more information on the engagement and involvement with universities and other higher education settings.
The Gatsby Project Manager responded that they had undertaken three full audits on the programme to measure outcomes and impacts. They have now put in place a tracking model to look at the interactions of schools, career interventions and other key markers that had been identified, to look at attainment markers that can measure the impacts in the schools. She added she felt the pandemic had delayed the process somewhat.
In response to the interactions with universities and higher education she advised that further work was needed to develop this area and would be happy to work with the member and also update at a later meeting with more information on the outcomes and impacts of the Gatsby Project.
A Member referred to the Gatsby+ trial that has provided bespoke and intensive career planning and work experience support aimed at pupils who are not reaching their academic potential that has initially supported five students. She asked how this ties in to the strapline every one, every person and what were the interventions used for these students.
The Officer responded that one of the key focus areas in benchmark two focussed on the needs of the individual child. She added that they were working on making the benchmarks as effective as possible for the schools in RCT. A small group of pupils were selected with high attainment, that move further away from their potential through years 9-11 and through to KS5 and she felt focussing the Gatsby Project on those pupils from an early age could positively affect their attainment. She concluded that this was in the early pilot stages and was happy to report back on the Gatsby+ progress at a later meeting. This was welcomed by the member
In response to a query from a member, the Gatsby Project Manager responded that the Curriculum Benchmark 4 was a focus at the moment and that careers being taught through the curriculum and not being a separate entity were an integral part of curriculum. She added that over the Summer term four working parties (Science, English, Humanities and PE) met on a weekly basis for four weeks to plan how those faculties can plan career interventions in those curriculum areas. She added that the working groups were an ongoing piece of work.
The Director of Education added that going forward she was hopeful of being able to share some meaningful data which would demonstrate the impact of learner outcomes and destinations but there were current restrictions on reporting on key performance indicators.
A Member asked if officers felt the Authority had the partnerships in place for careers training with schools and businesses.
The Gatsby Project Manager advised that relations with businesses could be stronger and more work needs to be undertaken in that area. She added that there was a career leader within the Employment and Education team who was helping to develop work in that area.
A Member asked if the Authority uses data from business intelligence around growth sectors to ensure the future proofing of the objectives.
The Officer responded that they are continually updating schools on labour market information to ensure their offer to schools is clear and follows the market trend. She added in her opinion it is an area that they can improve on.
A Member referred to the emergency measure for Covid-19 Benchmarks that were set out in the report and asked if these were still being used and when they would be reviewed.
In response, the Project Manager advised that Covid-19 Benchmarks were put in place to support schools. She stated that they are led by the leadership of the Local Authority on how to progress in the future and this would not be a decision she would make without their advice.
A member asked when officers expected to see face-to-face work experience return.
The Gatsby Project Manager responded that they have been flexible and adapted depending on the Covid-19 restrictions and circumstances. Schools had been given the options of virtual or face-to-face placements. She acknowledged that face-to-face placements were certainly more powerful and whilst they were keen to return to face-to-face work experience the Health and Safety guidance had to be followed.
A Member asked how the five pupils and schools were selected to take part in the Gatsby+ programme.
The Gatsby Project Manager replied that the Gatsby+ is a pilot to understand if the additional support has an impact. She stated that it was very resource heavy as support was delivered on a 1-2-1 basis. The schools were chosen due to the strong working relationships established with them, which, when undertaking a pilot is vital that they will deliver results so the results can be shared with other schools. The Schools selected also have a strong career leader so were in a good position to try something new. She added that the schools selected the pupils, with specific criteria set for those who were not achieving their academic potential.
A Member thanked the officers for the report and asked if this could be revisited in the spring when the two years had been completed and outcomes from the project could be demonstrated to the Committee. He asked if the schools receive extra funding to carry out their duties or if this carried out using the existing schools budget, and is the school curriculum fit for purpose to achieve the benchmarks set out in the report. He also asked , when considering Brexit and labour market information should we be teaching modern foreign languages in primary and secondary schools as they may not have an opportunity to utilise these skills in the future.
The Gatsby Project Manager responded that schools don’t receive additional funding and we need to ensure a sustainable model ensure success of the Gatsby benchmarks. She advised the schools that were having the greatest success with the benchmark profiles were the schools that already had many of the priorities that feature in the self-evaluation plans for developing their curriculum. In terms of the curriculum, she added that we were in a great position in developing the new curriculum and we were ensuring that benchmark four (linking curriculum learning to careers) is interwoven and interlinked and works in partnership with schools in RCT, colleges and careers wales to ensure pupils have a clear transition.
The Director of Education advised that it is important that children are prepared for the best pathway that reflects their skills – whether this is training, employment, apprenticeships or further education it was important it is right for them and they feel supported to make the right choices in the future. She added that learners need to be prepared for the world of work and for jobs that don’t exist yet . Schools are supported to offer more bespoke pathways for learners who don’t engage with the more traditional curriculum offer.
A Member asked if the outcomes were broken down into gender demographics. Will these be presented to members.
The Gatsby Project Manager responded that they are measured and when this item is reported back we can include this in the report.