Step by step: Starting a CEIAG program from scratch

(updated September 2018)


it’s a hefty guidance document with plenty of “musts” and “shoulds” for you and our line SLT to consider.

Then read how this fits in with the wider Careers Strategy (2017)

Also, there have been a lot of reports written on the state of CEIAG in schools. You could spend the next six months just reading these. Some of them are summarised in this Commons Library briefing paper

If you feel the need to, just read one, this one, as the Gatsby report has been the most influential on Government thinking and the benchmarks form the basis of the new Strategy.

Other work to be aware of is the research from the Education & Employers Taskforce, the publications of the International Centre for Guidance Studies and the growing body of work from the Careers Enterprise Company.



Use my (old) school’s as a guide. But make it your own and combine your school’s local context and aims for it’s CEIAG program with the national guidance and bear in mind that this was written way back in 2012ish, and the demands have moved on since then. You should be incorporating the Gatsby benchmarks and the role of a Careers Leader. Speaking of which


Go to your SLT with the Careers Leader Guidance for schools and get them to appoint this role to someone. It could be you, it could be your Line Manager, ultimately it doesn’t matter as long as all the CEIAG team understand their roles and responsibilities but whoever that person is, get them to read The Career Leaders Handbook. Now publish their contact details and your Careers plan on your website.



Here is where things can get never-ending. If you’re lucky enough to have tutorial or lesson time to fill with Careers lessons, the amount of great resources and is vast. I’m continually finding stuff online that I want to use. To begin with, for general employability skills, you can’t go far wrong by signing up to the Barclays Lifeskills site and using the bits of their lesson plans which you think will work for your students. Not everything will work straight away, keep finding stuff, be brave enough to keep trying it and asking teachers how things went, take feedback, adapt and improve the scheme of lessons over time.



Over the next few years these poor folk are going to have to be dealing with A LOT of curriculum and qualification change. Things are going to be busy and stressful for them but, with the right approach, this could provide opportunities for a CEIAG Lead to get Careers focused resources into their schemes of work. Offer good resources from worksheets to a simple display board dedicated to Careers and keep offering, be the link to further study in their subject by putting them in touch with the L3 teachers from the local College or 6th Form and make sure they are clear about progression routes in their subject area.



Now the real work starts. Look at your school curriculum and academic calendar. Where could general Careers trips to events such as the Skills Show and the Big Bang Fair or their regional events fit? Are there tasters to your local Sixth Forms & FE Colleges? Get in touch with your local HE outreach team and organise visits. Get them to come into Options Evenings, Key Stage parents events and student assemblies. Do you have a local Apprenticeship champion who you can get involved?



Sign up to your local Chambers of Commerce and attend networking events. Make yourself a LinkedIn profile and sign up to all the local Business community groups to introduce yourself. Get in touch with your local LEP and ask about their Careers & Enterprise Company Enterprise Adviser network and get yourself one. Talk over with them the Business in the Community advice for employers and what sort of activities you had in mind. Use the CDI Employer Engagement toolkit if you would like to make clear your goals for SLT or gain feedback from both students and your visiting speakers. Reach further afield through the volunteers available on the Inspiring The Future site. Network, network, network and before you know it, fruitful relationships will grow. You will be amazed to what lengths some Businesses will go to help out and offer some brilliant opportunities to your young people.

For both of those steps you will need to get support from SLT, plan far ahead, build these opportunities into the school calendar and then get in front of students in Form time and Assemblies to build awareness of them. Make speakers and Careers sessions part of the normal school week.



As you make progress in each of the other steps, you will find students will start approaching you with their own questions, “What do I need to take this?” “Where does this course?” “How do I get to be?” If your school does decide to offer face to face, individual Guidance sessions (and they should) then there is a choice on how to accomplish that. You could check the CDI register for a qualified practitioner and buy them in, you could do it yourself or a combination of the two. All will have £ cost implications for services or CPD but this shouldn’t put you off. Face to face is vital for many reasons but mostly because the young people say they want it. Curriculum time is tight so how these fit in will differ school by school. Be armed with local FE & 6th Form, Apprenticeship and HE prospectuses. Have folders of bookmarked sites ready to go on your computer (or use my Diigo profile or start your own) and, if you get asked something you don’t know, make a promise to get back to them with the answer. Have an “Action Plan” type document ready to go, for your records and for them to take away with a record of what you discussed and further steps to take. Investigate if your school will back you studying for a Level 6 (or higher!) guidance qualification.



Check the quality of your offer. Use the NFER’s audit tool to find gaps and areas to improve. Use the online Compass tool to benchmark. Write a summary of the school’s Destination statistics for SLT and Governors, compare against your local schools and look for positive outliers; what are they doing differently that you could learn from? Use all of this to inform next year’s CEIAG Action Plan. Oh, your SLT didn’t ask you write one? Do it anyway and put it in their in tray.



No school is an island in CEIAG work. If you are lucky enough to have local support networks then brilliant; make sure you use them. Plan joint trips and activities to share costs, share lesson plans and resources like they’re going out of fashion and meet regularly with colleagues across the Key Stages and transition points. If not, build those networks because, just like the extended networks online through Twitter and blogging, they will help you be a better a practitioner (without doubt, they’ve helped me).


These steps aren’t exhaustive but they’re a start could hopefully point you in the right direction if you where building a CEIAG program in your school for the first time.

One comment

  1. Hi Russell – great advice. I’d add “have a look at, the free to access careers information resource”. But then I would as I work there! More than happy to hear from your readers about how our site could be improved.

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