Education Select Committee, Careers Education, January 2023

Big Education

This morning, Big Education shared recommendations and ideas for how careers education/provision can be improved at the Education Select Committee, in the Houses of Parliament. We presented evidence alongside organisations Education and Employers, Co-op Academies and Quality in Careers.

At Big Education, we believe that young people need a broad and meaningful education, for their futures and our world. This means developing the skills and attributes, as well as the academic qualifications students need, to thrive throughout their careers and lives.

School 21 – an all through school based in Newham and part of the Big Education Trust – offers a curriculum of the head (academics), heart (character and wellbeing) and hand (problem solving, creativity, making a difference). As part of this, School 21 runs a unique work experience programme for young people aged 14-18, known as Real World Learning. In replacement of one GCSE, they spend half a day a week, across two terms in a work placement, solving an authentic problem for an organisation through an enquiry question. This aims to ensure young people are equipped with the skills needed for their careers and offers something broader than a standard career offer within schools. The projects are planned in collaboration with employers, to ensure value and high equality with experienced members of the leadership and pastoral team, with an end product and an exhibition of work.

What we have called for – our recommendations to the Education Select Committee:

  • Schools must adopt rigour in ‘work-experience’ design alongside support and training
  • There must be a holistic approach to careers education – embedded, not on the margins
  • The system needs a broader range of pedagogical approaches to ensure students have space to practice and reflect-on the skills they need for the future
  • There needs to be training and support for teachers and schools to understand the range of future pathways available to students

“Giving our young people an authentic experience of the world of work is a critical and creative way to support and inspire them. School can too often feel like an abstraction from real life; our young people need to understand how their learning and skills relate to their futures, serving as a powerful motivator for ongoing success. The focus on careers development is an important component of the future of our education system, and must be focused on meaningful work and not tokenistic programs or interventions.” Liz Robinson, CEO, Big Education

About Big Education

Big Education’s vision is for every young person to receive a meaningful education – empowering positive change with their communities, for their future, and our world.

What does big education do?

  • Rethinking Practice, by running schools and supporting other schools to change
  • Challenge Mindsets by showing there is another way to ‘do’ school and pushing for change
  • Shaping Futures through the difference they make


If you would like to find out more, please contact Ellie Lister, Head of Strategic Partnerships –

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