Careers Leader

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All young people deserve good career guidance for success beyond school. Our programme gives secondary school middle and senior leaders the careers expertise to deliver it.

  • Raise student outcomes and aspirations.
  • Evidence towards the Quality in Careers Standard (QiCS).
  • Progress towards all eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks.
  • Fully-funded, targeted training and support.
  • Build leadership skills with strategic, whole-school impact.
  • Gain networking support from other schools and businesses.
Registrations open for 2024

Boost careers education and accelerate your school towards the Gatsby Benchmarks.


Raising pupil outcomes and aspirations 

By improving your school’s careers guidance, you raise student  aspirations, engagement and their career readiness. This is even more prevalent in schools from disadvantaged areas where there has been an increase in EET (Education, Employment and Training) outcomes with each Gatsby Benchmark achieved.

Evidence towards the Quality in Careers Award

Gather proof that your school meets the national quality assessment criteria needed to gain the Quality in Careers Standard (QiCS).

A long-term, whole-school strategy for careers provision

Working together, we’ll build the foundations for long-term improvement at your school. We’ll do this by supporting you as a careers leader to evaluate your current provision and create an improvement strategy.

We’ll train you to confidently prepare other teachers in your school to deliver careers learning. In this way we can ensure that the programme’s impact extends beyond the professional development of individual careers leaders.  

Fully-funded personalised training and support

One-to-one training from a Teach First Careers Expert who’ll help you to get what you and your school need. Plus opportunities to learn from those who have been on the programme and others currently taking it.

Expert training delivered in a flexible way

We want our programme to benefit all young people and teachers, so we designed it to accommodate all levels of careers leader experience and school needs.

Our modules combine personalised one-to-one support, online learning and training days. Each one has been developed in collaboration with experts from different sectors.

What’s more they cover a range of themes, from embedding careers in the curriculum to developing partnerships with employers.

Progress towards all eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks

The programme spans the academic year from October to July, during which your careers leaders will plan how to meet the Gatsby Career Benchmarks, which were developed to define world-class careers education.  During our programme, your careers leader will design and start to implement an improvement strategy that’ll ensure your whole school progresses towards them.

Networking support with other schools and businesses

We believe in building successful partnerships. Our training connects careers leaders with a local and national network of careers leaders in more than 100 schools, all working to give young people the best chance of fulfilling their potential. We’ll share expertise and prepare you to build lasting partnerships with employers, who’ll add real value to the curriculum through information, advice and guidance.

While on the programme, Careers Leaders will also get the opportunity to engage with some of the UK’s top companies and increase access to business for their students.

When I started the Careers Leader Programme,  I realised how much more there was to learn about effective careers provision.
Alanna Jones,
Assistant Vice Principal at Hillside High School
Pupils at a Teach First partner school


The situation

In August 2022, we ran an analysis of DfE data that reveals a significant destinations gap between disadvantaged pupils and their wealthier peers five years after they finish their GCSE’s. This shows that:  

  • 1 in 3 (33%) poorer young people are not in sustained work or education 5 years after GCSEs, compared to 1 in 7 (14%) of their wealthier peers 
  • young people from disadvantaged background (13%) are almost twice as likely to drop out of their A-Level course compared to non-disadvantaged peers (7%) 
  • disadvantaged pupils are more likely to end up out of sustained work or education (33%) than they are to go to university (27%). 

A high-quality approach to careers and employability learning has been linked to improved attainment and increased school aspirations. 

One careers study also found that students that had more contact with the world of work were more motivated towards getting higher GCSE grades.

That’s why it’s now a requirement that all schools have a dedicated careers leader - someone who has to make sure their school provides an excellent careers programme that meets the Gatsby Career Benchmarks. Schools are required to provide pupils with at least seven meaningful encounters with employers while at school.

The issues

Opportunities to learn about careers aren’t equally spread across the country. Young people from low income backgrounds are far less likely to have friends and family who can guide them on how to get into higher paid professions, or provide experience in them. As the world of work rapidly changes these connections become even more important. Schools need to fill that gap.

But finding the time and resources to build careers expertise is another matter, especially in areas where schools are already stretched to breaking point. Although many do an amazing job in difficult circumstances, we want to create a system in which every child can fulfil their ambition.

The outcomes

Great careers leaders make a huge difference to young people’s futures. We’ve seen it. Their chances of success rocket when careers are an integral part of the curriculum. When they learn what skills they need and are given real-life experience of the workplace.

Research shows that this kind of provision creates an equal playing field for all students and also makes them even more engaged at school. Our Careers Leader programme will train you to develop and deliver it.

The results speak for themselves. Schools that have partnered with us have:

  • developed a careers strategy with a detailed action plan targeting all staff and pupils
  • been able to identify key prioritise in their careers strategies, with 99% of surveyed programme members reporting a change in their confidence in this area (C6 Endpoint, Sept 2022)
  • received support on existing career provision that is in place in order to make rapid improvement towards Quality in Careers Standard (QiCS).

What’s more, data from 60 schools in our 2019 cohort showed an increase in the average number of Gatsby benchmarks achieved per school from 3.1/8 at the start of the programme to 4.2 at programme completion.

Watch our Careers Leaders talking about their achievements:

Teacher and pupils at Beaumont Leys school
At the beginning, I felt quite inadequate compared to some of the more experienced people that were on the programme, but now I definitely feel I've got the confidence to fully participate in events and to go ahead and implement the strategy I've written.
Jennifer Wilby,
Careers Leader
Coleridge Community College Cambridge
Statistic: Over half of teachers believe the pandemic has negatively affected how pupils see their career prospects


What are the training commitments?

Careers leaders must be able to commit to the programme requirements. Please be aware that programme delivery will adhere to official guidance and restrictions when necessary:

  • attending 3 training sessions or sending a replacement if personally unavailable. Depending on government guidance, we aim to deliver two face-to-face training days and one virtual training day. Training days locations will depend on the final cohort and will take place in a city with good transport links
  • attending small group virtual seminars of 1- 1.5 hours in length during the school term
  • meeting your Teach First Careers Expert virtually at key points throughout the year.

How is the programme structured?

Throughout the academic year, each careers leader will develop a whole-school improvement strategy. They will implement and evaluate an in-year project, which will be a part of embedding their strategy and delivering immediate impact. This allows Careers Leaders to progress towards all eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks and the Quality in Careers Standard (QiCS).

The programme is tailored to meet the needs of each school and provides a foundation for long-term improvement through blended learning modules including in-person training, online learning and personalised support.

Our support

As a Careers Leader, you and your school will have our support every step of the way. This includes:

  • support to evaluate your current careers provision and where you can improve it most
  • high-quality training based on the latest research. This covers topics such as: building partnerships with business, embedding careers into the curriculum, improving information, advice and guidance and measuring impact
  • year-round access to one-to-one time with a dedicated Teach First Careers Expert
  • collaboration with a local network of careers leaders all aiming to give children the best chance of success beyond school
  • access to a national careers leader community where you can exchange ideas, resources and news
  • expertise on leadership and management to help develop a whole school approach to careers related learning
  • a regular half-termly bulletin filled with updates and  resources while you are on the programme.

Whole-school strategic focus

Careers leaders are supported to evaluate current provision and develop a school careers strategy. By establishing a senior leader sponsor and providing guidance on how to equip all staff to deliver career-related learning, we ensure the programme impact extends beyond the careers leader’s professional development.

Learning modules

Our modules develop careers leadership skills and sector expertise. Modules are developed in collaboration with sector experts and cover a diverse range of themes such as implementation and project management, embedding careers in the curriculum to developing external partnerships.

School-to-school networking

Connect with a local and national network of over 100 schools and careers leaders prioritising improvements in careers and employability.

 Ambassador Regional Representatives Committee (ARRC) & Members (ARRMs) 

Career Leaders will access the support offered by the Ambassador Regional Representative Committee (ARRC) through the TF Careers Network.  Here they can utilise existing careers leader ambassadors, support is offered in writing and implementing careers strategies through regional representatives.

What do we need from your school?

Identify a middle or senior leader to take part in our programme and lead on improving careers provision in your school. They’ll need the time to:

  • commit to 2.5 days out of your school timetable for training and developing your understanding of best practice. In light of COVID-19, programme delivery will adhere to official advice and restrictions. 
  • work with their dedicated Teach First Careers Expert throughout the year 
  • complete online learning 
  • attend five virtual seminars 
  • develop a strategy for the whole school, implement in-year improvements to careers provision and share data with us on how you are meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks.

Careers Leaders are responsible for making sure schools meet the Gatsby Benchmarks - eight benchmarks of good practice, including making sure pupils have access to personal guidance and encounters with employers.

Thanks to the programme, every pupil knows there’s a careers team embedded in the Trust and who to go to for guidance
James Livermore,
Careers Leader
Harewood College
Teacher using whiteboard at Mulberry School


Eligibility criteria to work with us

As an education charity, our programme is aimed at secondary schools where not enough young people progress to further education or employment.

Our criteria are agreed with the Department for Education (DfE) and used to identify schools that will benefit most from working with us:

  • We use the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) and each school's Pupil Premium (PP) information to guide us. 
  • We focus on schools ranked in the top 70% most deprived areas (based on IDACI).
  • We focus on schools where the proportion of pupils eligible for pupil premium is in the top 50% of all state-funded schools.
  • We also look at rates of participation in higher education. We prioritise schools with a high proportion of students from areas with low progression to university. 

Unsure if you meet our requirements? We understand that no set of criteria is ever going to perfectly capture the many forms that deprivation can take. If you’re not sure, enquire now as we have some flexibility. Our team can talk this through with you.

Who can become a careers leader?

The Careers Leader programme is aimed at middle or senior school leaders who are accountable for their school’s careers provision. It’s open to any middle or senior leader – not just those who are an existing Teach First partner. 

For individuals who are interested in taking part, the key skills required for the careers leader role include leadership, management, coordination and networking. You must have the backing of a member of the Senior Leadership Team or your headteacher who will act as your School Sponsor.

Teach First brand shapes stacked like toy building blocks
pupil in one of our partner schools


No fees for your school

We’ve been a Careers and Enterprise Company-funded training provider since 2018. With this partnership, along with our generous Teach First supporters, we’re able to offer this programme at no cost to your school.

Along with the course being fully-funded, once your careers leader has successfully completed the programme, your school could be eligible for a £1000 bursary. Enquire to find out more.

seated female teacher looking at camera smiling
Impact Report Uxbridge classroom


How to apply

Interested in our Careers Leader programme? Enquire now using our online form and a member of our team will be in touch. 

Further support

For extra help with careers at your school, explore our free collection of resources.

Enhance your provision available to teachers and help your students discover new career paths. 

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Teachers sitting down at teacher development conference

Join the Careers Leader programme

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