Study Shows Government Programme Increases Pupil Focus on Careers

30 November 2021

A study of almost 1,600 year 10 and 11 pupils in 28 schools in the North East suggests pupils with access to high-quality careers education benefit from better focus and future career planning.

The newly-published report was undertaken by the Oxford University Careers Service, in collaboration with Trinity College’s Access team. The research showed that pupils on the Department for Education’s Opportunity North East (ONE) programme of career education have better industry knowledge and are statistically significantly more focused on their future career plans than pupils not on the ONE programme. The study was carried out using Oxford University’s Litmus for Schools Programme, in collaboration with Trinity College's work in the region with schools.

The study was carried out in June/July this year and focused on Year 10 and Year 11 students at schools across the North East. Students were asked questions about their careers frame of mind, industry interest, and perceived employability skills, as well as their plans post-16 and -18, and the effect of the pandemic on career choice. 

The study found that the pupils on the ONE programme, delivered by the region’s two Local Enterprise Partnerships, had significantly higher levels of career planning and engagement than those not on the programme – more than any other factor such as gender, parental graduate status or ethnicity which have traditionally been shown to be the most significant influences on the career aspirations of children. The North East Litmus programme has shown that pupils are more likely to be actively engaging in their career plan the more industry and careers knowledge they have and have benefited significantly in this area from the ONE programme input.

More careers and industry knowledge is also associated with more confidence about demonstrating key employability skills and this was borne out in the study. It also showed that a pupil’s engagement with post-school career plans was only slightly associated with their gender and parental university status and not at all associated with their ethnicity and free school meal status.

The study found a statistically significant difference between pupils on the ONE programme and those not on the ONE programme in terms of their careers knowledge: 42% on the ONE programme state “I feel very well supported with Careers” compared with 25% for other pupils, and 50% on the programme state they feel they have “enough experience and knowledge to make the choices,” compared with  35% of non-ONE programme pupils.

Trinity College’s President, Dame Hilary Boulding, says: ‘As a former school pupil from the North East, I’m really pleased that Trinity is supporting this important work. We want to do everything we can to support pupils to think about career planning and their progression beyond school – whether they might think about applying to Oxford, a different university or any other destination. The insights from the Litmus work are important in providing evidence of how we can potentially help students of all backgrounds.’

Commenting on the findings, Jonathan Black, Director of Oxford University’s Careers Service, said:  ‘We are pleased to have been able to apply the Careers Service Litmus system for the benefit of pupils and schools in the North East. This exercise has shown the power of collaboration with colleagues at Trinity College, Oxford, our software suppliers gti, and in the DfE and Local Enterprise Partnerships in the region. The results have confirmed the positive effect the ONE programme has had, and point the way to even greater benefits if we were to roll this out more widely.’

Trinity College works closely with schools, students and teachers in its outreach link region of North East of England in Cleveland, Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Stockton on Tees in the North East. We also work in partnership with St Anne’s College and Christ Church as members of the Oxford for North East consortium to support schools and prospective applicants across the North East of England.