Sunderland College is celebrating its involvement in an innovative, four-year careers education pilot programme with the Gatsby Foundation.

The college was selected to play a key role in the pilot of a new careers guidance framework, which tested eight benchmarks that defined the best careers provision in schools and colleges.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NE LEP) was chosen as the area to host the pilot and 16 education providers took part in the programme, which ran from the autumn term of 2015 to the autumn term of 2019.

The pilot was designed to encourage the next generation of young people to make fully informed decisions about their future and equip them with the skills that employers require.

Vikkie Morton, Vice Principal Students Services and Registry at Education Partnership North East, which includes Sunderland College, Hartlepool Sixth Form and Northumberland College, said: “We were delighted to be involved in the North East pilot for the Gatsby Foundation and valued the opportunity to make a real difference to the provision of high-quality careers education and affect change within national policy.

“The pilot has changed our careers education to focus on each and every student and has inspired our staff to innovate.

“Although these changes were as a result of the Gatsby pilot, for us it was always simply about delivering good careers guidance and inspiring our students to be the best they can be so they can realise their full potential.

“One of the college’s strategic goals is shaping and evolving a well-designed careers focused curriculum, anchored to regional priorities.

“Careers education is driving how our broad and balanced curriculum looks and we want it to open doors to future success, progression and positive destinations for our students at all levels.

“The legacy of being part of the pilot is clear to see in our annual reporting, which shows five-year positive trends for destination data, stakeholder feedback, work readiness and work experience completion.

“Careers education is the consistent golden thread that weaves throughout our student journey.”

The success of the pilot in the North East LEP area has already led to the government launching new statutory guidance for schools on how to deliver careers education, with the Gatsby Career Benchmarks at its heart.

The Gatsby Foundation released the final evaluation of the North East pilot last week, further demonstrating the impact on students’ outcomes and progression.

The evaluation has been carried out by the International Centre for Guidance Studies (ICEGS) on behalf of the Gatsby Foundation.

Education Partnership North East’s Chief Executive, Ellen Thinnesen, added: “Students are at the heart of everything we do and it is vitally important that what we do makes a difference for them.

“Careers guidance is critical in terms of student success, student outcomes and improving social mobility.

“We are delighted to have played a part in transforming the future of careers education and guidance and inspiring innovative practice through the Gatsby pilot.”

Sunderland College has been recognised both regional and nationally for its approach to careers.

It is a lead College in the North East Careers Hub and has been highly commended twice in the prestigous AoC Beacon Awards for Innovation in Careers and Enterprise.

Sunderland College has also been involved in the Ford Next Generation Learning programme in partnership with North East LEP and The Edge Foundation.

It’s a pioneering project that benefits young people, communities and local economies by addressing skills shortages and youth unemployment through embedding community connected and project-based learning in study programmes.

The full Gatsby pilot evaluation report is available at