Gatsby Benchmark 7


What good looks like 

All students should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes both technical and academic routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace.


  • By the age of 16, every student should have had a meaningful encounter* with providers of the full range of educational opportunities, including sixth forms, colleges, universities and apprenticeship providers. This should include the opportunity to meet both staff and students.
  • By the age of 18, all students who are considering applying for university should have had at least two visits to universities to meet staff and students.
  • By the age of 18, or before the end of their programme of study, every student should have had a meaningful encounter with a range of providers of learning and training that may form the next stage of their career. This should include, as appropriate, further education colleges, higher education and apprenticeship and training providers. This should include the opportunity to meet both staff and students.


*A ‘meaningful encounter’ is one in which the student has an opportunity to explore what it is like to learn in that environment. This includes academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and the workplace.  


Provider access legislation​

The provider access legislation is new guidance that comes into force from January 2023, which builds on Benchmark 7 and adds new specific requirements for schools. It is a key mechanism to further help learners understand and take-up, not just apprenticeships, but wider technical education options such as T-Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications. ​


The updated provider access legislation (PAL) specifies schools must provide at least six encounters for all their students:  ​

  • Two encounters for pupils during the ‘first key phase’ (year 8 or 9) that are mandatory for all pupils to attend ​

  • Two encounters for pupils during the ‘second key phase’ (year 10 or 11) that are mandatory for all pupils to attend ​

  • Two encounters for pupils during the ‘third key phase’ (year 12 or 13) that are mandatory for the school to put on but optional for pupils to attend ​

You will find more information on the legislation and support with promoting all pathways here.


Why this matters

  • 26% of young people who received free school meals (FSM) in year 11 are not in education or employment (NEET) aged 18-24, compared to 13% of non-FSM students
  • High achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to apply to higher education, attend a high-status university, or access high status professional jobs than similarly qualified peers from more affluent backgrounds
  • FSM students make up only 16.7% of students in KS5 (16-18 years) academic pathways in comparison to 28% on vocational pathways Bit report
  • 1,400 more students were in sustained EET during 2018/19 connected to the level of guidance provision that schools in the sample reported, compared to a scenario in which all schools had reported zero benchmark provision. 

Careers Leaders:

Getting started with BM7

Refresh your knowledge and understanding of all pathways at key transition points:

  • Promoting All Pathways: Understanding the full range of learning opportunities at key transition points video resource. 


Consider how you can share this information about pathways at key transition points with students, staff and parents/carers

  • Coming soon: Staff Careers CPD Resource
  • Help curriculum staff to understand pathways from their subject but sharing the My Learning, My Future Resources with curriculum colleagues

Refer to the Making it Meaningful checklist when planning any Benchmark 7 activity.


All Careers Leaders require Outstanding training


For further support with Benchmark 1 register for our fully funded Careers Leader training 


Download our Training Catalogue which includes all the information you need and a helpful comparison guide on the 11 high-quality Training Providers we work with. Here you will be able to choose the right course to suit you and your development, so that you can embed a successful careers programme in your school/college. 


Once you have chosen the right course and Training Provider for you, you are all set to register!


Register today

Careers in Context: Can Do Approaches 

Encounters with further education, higher education and training providers should have planned intent, delivery and impact of activities and sit within a progressive careers programme that supports positive student outcomes.

To include an activity under Benchmark 7, it must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Learning outcomes defined, based on the age and needs of students
  • The encounter involves two-way interaction between students, appropriate provider staff and young people participating in this pathway
  • There is evidence that the student actively participated
  • There is evidence that the student has reflected on the experience and that it has shaped their thinking about future pathways



  • Online encounters can offer students and parents/carers the opportunity to engage with Further Education, Higher Education and training providers that they may not have considered visiting face to face.
  • Students can start to learn about all pathways available to them at key transition points through employer encounters, experience of work and careers in the curriculum from Year 7. A multi-benchmark approach to employer encounters and experiences of work help students to develop their knowledge and understanding in context.
  • Refer to Encounters with further and higher education for practical ideas from schools and colleges for achieving Gatsby Benchmark 7.

 “If you think from a learner’s perspective, they often don’t know the connection between what they’re studying and the employment sector. There is a big jump from doing a course and being able to turn that into a pathway to a job. So bringing employers helps make the transition feel more real and accessible.”

Careers Leader, college

Education Leaders and Governors:

Education Leaders and Governors: For further information on each Benchmark, to support you in your role, please see the Education Leader, Secondary and College Governor Guides.

Gatsby BM2, 5, 6, 7
Key stages

Careermag for Parents, Carers and Guardians

A great resource for your Parents Evenings and Newsletters! Careermag for Parents, Carers and Guardians is a publication with information for parents of school-aged children offering support and information on careers and qualifications. It also includes information on how to help support young people with mental health issues, managing the UCAS system, apprenticeships and in-depth features on various sectors and opportunities in them.


Gatsby BM2, 5, 6, 7
Key stages


CareermapTV is a broadcasting channel that runs across several different social media platforms and it is your ultimate destination for all things careers and education. From recorded live webinars from top employers to comedic, relatable career reels, we’ve got everything you need to inspire your students in their career journey.


Gatsby BM1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Key stages


Talentino programmes have been helping to improve career outcomes for young people with a range of learning difficulties in a mixture of settings – special schools, mainstream schools, AP, PRU, SEMH, etc.

They also provide great opportunities for learning more, through their regular newsletters, annual SEND Careers Conference, and by publishing free resources.

Gatsby BM5, 7
Key stages

FES Connect Activity

‘FES Connect’ is a national community for Post 16 careers leaders and practitioners, supporting development and sharing of best practice to ensure every learner is supported to find their next best step. 

An opportunity to share examples of what's working well across the country in careers education via online seminars, newsletters showcasing best practice and an FES Connect chat board.

Click here to register.

Gatsby BM2, 4, 5, 6, 7
Key stages

Careermag for School Leavers

Careermag for School Leavers is a termly publication with information for school-aged children offering support and information on careers and qualifications. Explore apprenticeships, T Levels, work experience and university options including interview prep and student life. Navigate your options with confidence. If you're an educator use this resource to ignite discussions and guide your students.


Gatsby BM1, 3, 7
Key stages

Amazing Apprenticeships Resources

Amazing Apprenticeships is a small team with a big mission. They offer support and guidance to educators, employers, students and parents to navigate the fast-changing world of apprenticeships. Below are links to some of the resources they have on offer.

Brand-new animated film explaining what apprenticeships are and their benefits, watch here

Gatsby BM7

The Provider Access Legislation (PAL) in SEND Settings

All pupils should have the same opportunities for meaningful provider encounters and the overwhelming majority of pupils with SEND, including those with high levels of needs, can access fulfilling jobs and careers with the right preparation and support.

However, where learners future pathways are limited due to the nature of their specific learning needs and/or physical ability - for example where they are highly likely to proceed into adult social care - it is recognised that it may be necessary for additional flexibility in how these encounters are delivered.


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