The National Careers Leaders Conference and Exhibition 2023, kindly sponsored by Morrisby, is jointly organised by the CDI and iCeGS at the University of Derby.

This event was held on Tuesday 27 June 2023, at the University of Derby, Kedleston Road Campus.

This is the sixth conference designed to support the learning, information sharing and professional development of Careers Leaders working in primary, secondary and SEND schools or colleges, as well as Enterprise Coordinators and Careers Hub leaders.

As well as an extensive programme of keynote speakers, panelists and workshops, the event features the opportunity to engage with a wide range of careers sector organisations within the exhibition space.

Conference theme: Gatsby benchmarks and beyond: Developing and evidencing impactful careers programmes.

After nearly 10 years the Gatsby benchmarks are widely understood and increasingly embedded in careers education across England. Schools, colleges and SEND schools continue to need support to achieve all eight benchmarks, but they also need to look beyond the benchmarks to best prepare students for their next step in education, training or work. From the CDI Career Development Framework to the Quality in Careers Standard, CDI Code of Ethics and far more, this year’s conference will explore approaches to achieving, and looking beyond, the Gatsby benchmarks, so you can offer truly impactful careers support for your students. 


Who should attend

This year’s conference offers valuable learning for a wide range of careers providers for young people. From Careers Leaders and Career Advisers to Enterprise Co-ordinators and Careers Hub leads, the conference covers careers provision in primary and secondary schools, SEND schools, alternative provision, sixth forms, colleges and training providers.

The conference will help you set quality aspirations for your programme, learn how to overcome barriers to delivering high quality careers services using impact evidence, and engage you wider stakeholders so they become a supportive and meaningful part of your careers eco-system.

Keynote Speakers

Independent CEG Consultant, Visiting Fellow at University of Derby International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) and co-author of The Careers Leader Handbook. 

David Andrews OBE is a consultant, trainer, researcher and writer specialising in career education and guidance. After an initial eleven years teaching in secondary schools in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, including five years as head of careers at St Ivo School in the ‘other’ St Ives, he has spent the past 36 years, in various roles, supporting career education and guidance in schools and colleges through leading training courses, writing guidance materials, undertaking research and providing advice on policy and practice. He has worked as an advisory teacher in Cambridgeshire Careers Service, an adviser and inspector with Hertfordshire County Council and, latterly, as an independent consultant.

In the past David has been an affiliated lecturer at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, an adviser on careers education to the DfEE/DfES and a policy adviser to the Career Development Institute (CDI). He is a Fellow of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling (NICEC) and a Visiting Fellow at the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS), University of Derby. Most of his work has been in the UK but he has also worked on projects in East Africa, Kosovo, Pakistan, the Gulf states, Norway and Iceland.

David is co-author, with Tristram Hooley, of The Careers Leader Handbook, a revised and updated edition of which was published by Trotman in November 2022. In 2019 he published a second edition of his 2011 book on Careers Education in Schools. In 2018 the CDI recognised David’s work with The Rodney Cox Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kelly Spence RCDP 

Careers and Employability Lead, Outcomes First Group and winner of the CDI Careers Leader of the Year Award 2022 

Group Careers and Employability Lead, Outcomes First Group 

Having started her career as an award-winning paediatric nurse, Kelly found her passion for careers guidance whilst campaigning for better relationships between Universities and placement providers particularly within nursing. Her experiences led her to meet many education facilities struggling to provide effective guidance and opportunities to young people, especially within Special Education Needs (SEN).  

Kelly joined Outcomes First Group as Group Careers and Employability lead in 2000 and her work across the 60 school and college settings supporting young people with SEN led to her being recognised as the Careers Leader of the Year 2022 at the UK Career Development Awards.  

Kelly has since gained her MA in Career Development and Employability and Certificate in Careers Support with students with SEND and as she embarks on my first year as a qualified practitioner, she is dedicated to supporting the young people within her organisation in which the settings are specialist SEND to ‘Dream Big’ and achieve their aspirations. She continues to raise awareness of the incredible skills the students have to offer, but also to highlight the many barriers that still exist that they must overcome for success.  


Senior Adviser: Careers, The Gatsby Foundation

Ryan is the National Leader for CEIAG at Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), one of the largest school groups in England. He is responsible for the quality of careers education for 32000 young people in 57 schools. Before joining AET, Ryan worked as a member of the Skills Team at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, developing the education and skills agenda. In this role he established ‘North East Ambition’, a careers network of over 200 schools, colleges and businesses. Between 2015-2019 Ryan led the very successful national pilot of the Gatsby Foundation’s 'Good Career Guidance' benchmarks in England and influenced the development new National Careers Strategy (Dec 2017), supporting the CEC with the national roll out of the Gatsby Benchmarks and the development of the national careers hub model. In 2017 Ryan was recognised as ‘UK Career Educator of the Year’ by the Career Development Institute and during the Covid19 pandemic he helped to create the careers content for England’s Oak National Academy. Ryan is an Associate at the International Centre for Guidance Studies, a school Governor, a member of the national Quality in Careers Standard Board and an Advisory Board member for ‘Maths for Girls’.  



We will achieve the conference theme by looking at three critical sub-themes.

It’s crucial to understand and define what quality means for your careers provision and there are several aspects to consider as you set quality aspirations for your work. Tools such as the CDI Career Development Framework, Quality in Careers Standard and CDI Code of Ethics can help you understand which activities are working well and which aren’t, giving a focus for improvement. Central to this evaluation is evidencing your impact.

It’s important to be able to evidence the impact of your careers programme, not just to support quality improvements but also to influence key stakeholders from the leadership team through to teachers and parents. Being able to convey the impact beyond the direct careers outcomes – such as impacts on classroom success, school performance, sustainability, diversity and disadvantage - widens the value your careers provision is seen to add beyond the student. As a recent social media campaign challenged, it’s #SoMuchMoreThanTalkingAboutJobs and good evidence helps raise stakeholder understanding of this.

While your students are the key beneficiaries of your careers programme, to maximise its effectiveness and longevity you need ongoingrom an ecosystem of stakeholders – from school or college leadership teams, teaching staff, local authorities and specialist centres, community leaders, as well as employers, parents and even Ofsted. Influencing these stakeholders requires the evidence of impact, but also an understanding of each stakeholders’ priorities, concerns and problems to be solved, so you can ensure your engagement resonates with what’s important to them.

Workshop Programme

Layers of Quality

Jo Saward & Mandy Green

Hear from two passionate careers professionals with over 45 years combined experience in the sector. Both have built successful career programmes from scratch in diverse settings, including Job Centre, Connexions partnerships, state schools, independent schools, and, latterly, across schools in the South East Midlands Careers Hub. The session will focus on improving our practice through reflection adding layers of quality as the careers programme evolves. We will zoom in on specific examples of career provision, demonstrating how these have improved over time, and highlight what matters in quality first provision. 

Using National Data to Evidence Impact Local

Laura Hawksworth

Almost 4,500 schools and colleges now report Gatsby Benchmarks. With widespread adoption of Compass+, and more data coming online (careers impact review, employer standards, transitions and destinations), we can create an increasingly data-rich, student-centred outcome picture. The workshop will kick off with a presentation on the national picture and address these questions: What data is most useful for Career Leaders to evidence impact? What does good look like? What can be more widely adopted? Where’s this going? What’s our vision for the use of data by careers leaders? What’s missing?   What can we do to achieve our vision? Who needs to act?

Missing the Maths Lesson - Debunking Myths Around the Careers Interview

Erica Rowell

Benchmark 8 is arguably easy to achieve but potentially difficult to integrate into the careers programme and to be truly meaningful for students and parents. It can be seen by teachers as an intrusion into the packed timetable of a student. The workshop will uncover what goes on in the careers interview, the benefits and potential outcomes and why it should be done by a qualified professional. Delegates will consider innovative ideas and share best practices to ensure that personal guidance is integrated into the careers programme and enables the student to understand and practice career management.

Reforms to Technical Education: How the System Supports Progression

Natasha Watkinson

Reforms are underway to England’s technical education system. Developments include the rollout of T-levels and introducing a national system of Higher Technical Qualifications. This session will outline the rationale for whole-system reform, potential routes and pathways for young people and adults, and the timeline for reform. This session will enable practitioners to feel equipped to access impartial information on technical education options that will allow them to provide up-to-date CEIAG within a changing landscape.

An Introduction to Cats & Dogs: Creating an Inclusive Careers/Personal Guidance Environment in Schools

Jenny Connick

Cats and Dogs stands for Careers Adviser toolkit SEND / Delivering oral guidance SEND. Many Careers Advisers and Careers Leaders in the mainstream are anxious about working with young people with special needs. At least 15% of the 1.5 million young people with SEND are found in mainstream schools. With the publication of the SEND reforms, more students with a broader range of additional needs will be coming into mainstream schools in the next few years. This is a taster workshop designed for all careers practitioners to enable them to create inclusive career coaching environments in various educational settings.

Enhancing Quality Through the Use of Data: Using Morrisby Tracker to Support and Track the Development of a Whole-School Careers Programme

Rebecca Auterson 

From a standing start, in 2.5 years, Nottingham High School has developed a successful careers programme for students in years 3-13.  Using tracking data captured through Morrisby software, they have identified particular year groups’ needs and tailored activities to address these.  Over half of last year’s university applicants referred to the careers programme specifically in their personal statements, a testament to the impact this has on their future planning.  I will talk about the challenges of being one person implementing a whole-school programme of change. 

Career Readiness – Talking the Talk, or Walking the Walk?

John Ambrose

Although the recent official data for learners’ career readiness appears healthy, this workshop will explore how the data is masking a big issue. It will review a range of recent research publications which expose how well learners can evidence their career readiness and how employers feel about recruiting young people. Attending participants will: ·         Explore the impact careers programmes have on learners’ career readiness;   Review methods to evidence the impact of their careers programme on learners’ career readiness;    Identify tweaks to their programme to ensure learners are developing essential career knowledge, skills and attitudes for transition.

Raising CEIAG Expectations in a Multi Academy Trust via the Quality in Careers Standard (including Primary, Secondary, FE and Special)

Kathryn Lea-Williams & Jo Sykes

Outlining the process that a MAT Career strategic lead would undertake to evaluate their current careers provision leading to engagement with the Quality in Careers Standard . Attendees will go away with knowledge of how to work with their academies from initial conversations through to final assessments, understand the Quality in Careers Standard process and the benefits and potential outcomes for learners, staff and other stakeholders. The session will include the Standard’s applicability to all different school settings, including primary, secondary, colleges and special schools.

Preparing Students to Thrive in a Net-Zero Future

David Blackmore

Explore Sustainable Futures, a free careers programme for young people, designed to equip them with the knowledge and skills to thrive in a future net-zero economy, no matter what career path they choose. Contributing towards high-quality careers provision in schools and colleges, programme activities help meet the Gatsby benchmarks of good career guidance and the learning areas of CDI’s Career Development Framework. With a full suite of ready-to-use resources, the session will build confidence to embed and deliver the programme and support students to make good career decisions for them and the planet.

Enhancing the Quality of Careers Provision Through Effective Parental Engagement in Careers

Isabel Hutton

This workshop will: Present findings from the CEC and Gatsby Foundation’s parental engagement project, Talking Futures. Explore how Careers Leaders can use insights to enhance the support given to all parents/carers, enabling them to take a more informed and active role in their child’s careers journey. We will consider the role of other members in the success of embedding parental engagement into the careers provision in your setting and how to support them. Showcase brand new, free Careers Leader parental engagement training modules and resources. Introduce the CEC’s 2023/24 plans for supporting CLs to enhance parental engagement in their settings.

Supporting the Transition from Year 6 into Year 7

Janet Hutchinson & Tracey Taylor

This workshop will help participants to think about and focus on helping learners to identify changes they and their local area may undergo in the future. It will also identify ways to cope with changes in which the transition to secondary school will be the first of several key learning transitions before they join the world of work. As a result, participants will be better prepared to engage with stakeholders about the transition from primary to secondary education for their learners. It also identifies an opportunity for links between parents, carers, primary, and secondary providers and local employers.

How to Expand your Employer Network and Build a more Impactful Work Experience Programme

Charley Fowler

In this session, Unifrog will provide actionable guidance on how to build a more comprehensive employer network to allow your students to draw upon a wider variety of sectors when seeking work experience. This session will also breakdown the common barriers advisors face when organising work experience programmes, from how to support employers to run the most impactful placements to everything you need to know about the legal requirements.

How to use a School Improvement Plan to Deliver Quality CEIAG Provision

Alyce Harris

Careers Leaders often state that they face barriers when implementing a CEIAG programme, which can include a lack of time, funding or resources. By viewing CEIAG provision through the lens of a school improvement plan, provision can be viewed as a strategic and operational responsibility for the whole school. This seminar will demonstrate ways in which this can be achieved through a holistic approach to education whilst also linking a programme to the Gatsby benchmarks to enhance the quality of provision.

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics – Using Data to Enhance Careers Provision

Alex Parsons-Moore

Careers provision is often seen by teaching staff as a ‘one size is fit for all’ approach. This session aims to demonstrate how the use of readily available statistical information can enhance careers education and, in particular, how staff perceive its usefulness. The session will look at where this information can be obtained and how it can influence school leaders, improve outcomes and satisfy Ofsted.

Getting to Grips with Local LMI: Finding the Info and Being Creative

Helen Janota

Participants are supported in completing a short audit of the current provision in their school for local labour market information, with reference to Gatsby Benchmarks/CDI Career Development Framework/ Quality in Careers Standard. This will be guided by the questions: What local LMI is helpful for your students to know (and where are the gaps)? What sources of local LMI do you currently use (and are there key sources missing)? How are you currently presenting/disseminating local LMI to students/parents/teachers (and what other opportunities might there be)? Outcome: participants will gain further knowledge of LLMI sources and creative ideas for filling gaps in their current provision of local labour market information.

A Careers Strategy to Support Whole College Improvement

Alison Sadler

This workshop will present an approach to planning a careers strategy that supports and becomes an integral part of the whole college’s improvement. Delegates will be able to apply this approach to their organisation, share best practices with colleagues and hear success stories from other colleges through case studies and storytelling.

Are we Promoting all Pathways with Equity? The Importance of Evaluation and Learner Voice in Assessing the Impact of Activities to Meet Gatsby Benchmark 7 

Yvonne Ashby

With the updated provider access legislation requiring schools to promote all pathways with equity, how can we use various evaluation methods, including the learner’s voice, to evidence the impact of these activities? In this workshop, you will hear from a Careers Leader who uncovered some interesting feedback through learner voice and the improvements made to provision as a result. Be prepared to share your own challenges/experiences and hopefully go away with some new ideas of how to make activities to promote all pathways genuinely impactful.  

Preparing Students for the Use of Career Chatbots in an Age of Generative AI

Chris Percy

We will present emerging findings from an applied digital and careers research programme, drawing on two specific pilots underway in a local school and a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) in Dorset, London and Oxford. Lessons learned show how two contrasting schools have used an innovative careers chatbot to support the career readiness of young people aged 14+, teachers and parents. We will focus on how a careers chatbot, powered by AI and machine learning, can be used most effectively to improve career learning outcomes in a secondary school setting. A dashboard facility provides insight into aggregated user characteristics, occupational searches and preferences.

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