EEF announces first two careers education trials

A large randomised controlled trial will find out if getting groups of teenagers to deliver a project that tackles a social issue relevant to their community and with the support of business mentors can help improve their motivation and engagement at school, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) announced today.

780 pupils at 30 English schools will take part in the trial of Community Apprentice, a programme developed and delivered by Envision. Through a mix of weekly coaching sessions, workshops and cross-city events, groups of around 10 teenagers will identify an issue they care passionately about, come up with a way to help and work with local businesses and charities to make it happen.

The teams will then participate in an inter-school competition, with the winning team being the one that has made the biggest difference to their community and can demonstrate most effectively how they have developed skills valued by employers, such as communication and problem solving.

 A team of independent evaluators from the Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) will measure the impact that taking part in the programme has on character skills such as self-efficacy and persistence, as well as on maths and English GCSE results. 

The trial is being funded by a million-pound partnership between the EEF, the Careers & Enterprise Company and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The three organisations have committed to test different approaches to careers education to find out which are the most likely to boost young people’s chances of securing a job after school.

The research follows an Ofsted report which found that most of England’s schools are failing to prepare their pupils for the world of work through effective careers education.

A second trial, funded by the same partnership and evaluated by a team from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), will test the impact of preparing for, applying for and participating in STEM-related work experience on GCSE results in science and maths. Examples of past placements include at organisations such as the Met Office and South West Water.

Pupils at 130 schools will take part in a trial of CSW Group’s STEM-related work experience programme. The programme will begin with a whole-year group work experience preparation day for Year 10 (14 and 15 year olds). Schools will help to identify a group of students who might otherwise struggle to find a work experience placement. They’ll be supported through the application process, interviewed for opportunities, and given feedback after the placement.

Both trials are currently recruiting schools that are interested in participating. More information can be found on the individual project pages on the EEF’s website.

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

Schools and colleges are under more pressure to provide their pupils with a strong careers offering. But there is little evidence available on how to do this well. We are keen to see if engaging young people in tackling issues that matter to them motivates them to do better in school and to develop the skills valued by employers.

By funding rigorous and independent evaluations of these two different approaches, we will be in a much better position to say what effective careers education looks like and its knock-on benefits to other outcomes like attainment in school.”

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of the Careers & Enterprise Company, said:

The best research shows that young people who have 4 or more encounters with the world of work while at school are 86% less likely to be NEET - not in education, employment or training - and on average will go on to earn 18% more than their peers who did not have such opportunities.

These trials will add to this evidence base and help us better understand exactly which type of encounters and support have the greatest impact on young people. The findings will further support our Investment Fund in rapidly scaling up careers and enterprise programmes that work across England.

We are grateful to the Education Endowment Foundation and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for their support with this work.

Anthony Harte, Head of Community Engagement, EMEA at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said:

As a supporter of the Careers and Enterprise Fund, we are delighted to help understand what effective careers education looks like.

By focusing on these trails to test different approaches to careers education, we hope to build pathways which will help young people transition from education into sustained employment.

The new grants have been awarded to:

GranteeProjectGrant awardedNumber of settings (pupils)
CSW GroupGeneration STEM Work Experience£495,000130 (1,950)
EnvisionCommunity Apprentice£267,00030 (780)
  1. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a grant-making charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust (now part of Impetus–The Private Equity Foundation), with a £125m founding grant from the Department for Education. The EEF is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £87 million to test the impact of 142 projects reaching more than 960,000 children and young people in over 9,200 schools, nurseries and colleges across England. The EEF and Sutton Trust are, together, the government-designated What Works Centre for Education.
  2. The Careers & Enterprise Company is an employer-led organisation, set up to inspire and prepare young people for the fast-changing world of work. The Company’s role is to join the dots in the fragmented landscape of careers and enterprise, supporting programmes that work, filling gaps in provision and ensuring coverage across the country. The Company is led by chief executive Claudia Harris. Its chair is Christine Hodgson, chair of Capgemini and its board includes: Lord David Young, former Enterprise Adviser to the Prime Minister, Steve Holliday, former Chief Executive of National Grid plc, Brian Lightman, former General Secretary of ASCL and Dame Julia Cleverdon, Vice President of Business in the Community and Special Adviser to The Prince’s Charities.
  3. At Bank of America Merrill Lynch, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with not-for-profits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organisations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at about.bankofamerica.com, and connect with us on Twitter @BofAML. 2016 ESG Executive Summaryand ESG Performance Data Summary
  4. Envision is a national education charity which uses social action to develop young people’s character and employability. Operating in secondary schools across London, Birmingham and Bristol it harness the support of local businesses to support students to develop their skills whilst supporting causes that matter most to them.
  5. CSW Group are transition management specialists. They offer information, guidance and support to people and organisations as they move through different stages of their lives. They are a not-for-profit social enterprise; and reinvest any operating surpluses into new products and services, organisational development, and community based projects across the country. 
  6.    The EEF’s review of international evidence on careers education can be found here.
  7.  ‘Getting ready for work’, Ofsted’s report into work-related learning and enterprise education, found that only four of the 40 secondary schools visited by inspectors were demonstrating an effective approach to this aspect of the curriculum.