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Bedford Academy celebrated as 'best' for growing business talent

11 September 2018

As the schools head back for the new year, Bedford Academy marks its achievement as the first school out of 100 to meet all national benchmarks for providing students with high quality careers guidance.

The Gatsby Benchmarks are a framework of eight guidelines setting out what makes the best careers provision in schools and colleges, with employer engagement and individually tailored support as central to the service.  

Following an internal audit of careers activities, the school added new activities to increase impact. This included employer workplace visits,  enterprise talks, labour market information sessions, university visits for younger students and replacing careers day with a range of industry themed events. They also invited their enterprise adviser to attend a school inset day to make a presentation on linking curriculum learning to careers.

Mandy Green, careers leader at Bedford Academy said, “Working with Paul Shadbolt, our enterprise advisor and Peter Rayner, Enterprise Coordinator, from SEMLEP has enabled us to refine and evaluate our careers provision. 

“We now approach careers planning in a more systematic way ensuring our outcomes are impact driven and linked to the Gatsby benchmarks.  This has led us to introduce new initiatives, such as Yr8 Employer visits, curriculum based career learning and linking employability skills to Bedford Academy character.  This has allowed us to improve and refine the strong careers programme already offered”

 The Bedford Academy is one of 100 schools in the area signed up to the Careers and Enterprise Company network led by SEMLEP. The network brings together school careers teams with professional business leaders to help drive up the quality of employer engagement, helping to shape careers guidance and support given to students. It also helps to develop relationships between local schools and local employers. 

Since joining in June 2016, the Bedford Academy has worked directly with volunteer Enterprise Adviser, Paul Shadbolt from Lloyds Banking Group.

Paul Thompson, skills and employer engagement manager at SEMLEP said, “Mandy and the leadership team at Bedford Academy have done an amazing job to develop their careers programme and learning, prioritising how to best inspire young people and help then to see the relevance and importance of their education for their future career.

“For the students it means that they’re getting individual careers advice based on their own individual strengths and aspirations. This helps them to select the education and training pathways that’s right for them. 

“For local employers, they will see young people leaving the Academy more knowledgeable about employer expectations, with the right skills and attitudes, better prepared for working in local businesses.”

Paul Thompson from SEMLEP added, “It’s a great achievement to get 100 schools involved in this work. With more schools working towards the Gatsby Benchmarks, we’ll ensure quality careers guidance, more employers involved in developing skills and the better prepared our young people will be for the world of work.

“This can only be good news for local people, local schools and local employers. Everyone wins.”


Images provided. 

1. Enterprise Adviser, Paul Shadbolt, Lloyds Banking Group

 Photo of Enterprise Adviser Paul Shadbolt - Bedford Academy


For more information about the programme of activity to grow talent in the South East Midlands LEP area, see

The eight Gatsby benchmarks of good careers guidance are:

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

For more information about the Gatsby benchmarks see:

The Enterprise Adviser Network, led by the Careers and Enterprise Company nationally, and delivered by SEMLEP in the South East Midlands adopted the Gatsby Benchmarks for the programme. As part of this work, Enterprise Adviser coordinators at SEMLEP work with the schools to develop careers strategies which includes measuring and monitoring progress towards achieving the benchmark standards.

For more information about the Enterprise Adviser Network see:

For more information about the Enterprise Adviser network in the South East Midlands LEP area, see


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