A recent study from the charity Education and Employers has highlighted a positive correlation between students in Y11 receiving careers guidance with revision time and overall GCSE attainment.
The study worked with almost 650 students at 5 schools across England. You can find the full report here, or download it at the bottom of this article. The executive summary and key findings are highlighted below.
This research revealed that changes in young people’s attitude and motivation contributed towards improvements in attainment.
A) Changes in student attitudes
Students who took part in the three extra careers talks showed improvements relative to the control group with respect to their:
• Self-efficacy (confidence in their own abilities)
• Attitudes about the usefulness of school
• Confidence in fulfilling their career aspirations
• As the result of the three encounters young people had, 7% of the students changed their future plans while around 20-28% of them questioned their career and education choices
B) Changes in the number of weekly revision hours
• Planned weekly revision hours in the lead up to exams is used as a proxy for how seriously students are taking the process and their “motivation to study harder”
• The analysis shows that there is a positive and statistically significant relationship between taking part in three extra career talks and motivation to study harder. Students in the intervention group reported on average a 9% higher increase in their weekly revision hours than peers in the control group, linked indirectly to GCSE attainment via a separate analysis showing the importance of revision hours for GCSE attainment.
C) GCSE results
• At the beginning of the study the GCSE predictions for all young people in the study were collected and compared with their actual grades, so that we could measure students’ outperformance.
• The analysis reveals an indicative, direct link between the career talks and students’ outperforming their predicted grades, the equivalent of one student in a class of 25 beating their predictions by one grade as a result of the careers talks (controlling for gender and free school meals).
• There appears to be differences between the three subjects – the effect on English was more than double the average effect.
• While the effects are modest and would need further exploration as part of a larger trial, this is an important finding, especially given the small costs involved in putting on three careers talks.
D) Who benefits the most?
• The sub-sample analysis shows that lower achievers and less engaged learners responded best to the intervention.
• Within the intervention group who received three extra career talks, those who were initially more sceptical of the value of the education reported a greater increase in motivation to study harder. For instance, students predicted a borderline pass in English GCSE reported a 32% increase in planned weekly revision hours after the test, whereas those predicted high grades from 6 to 9 only reported a 10% increase.
• More is more! The impact of the extra career talks was larger for young people who had previously attended more short-duration career activities (such as career talks or career fairs). Such students were more likely to outperform their predicted grades and reported a higher level of motivation to study harder, the equivalent of an extra 20% in planned hours if they had done four such short-duration activities before the three organised for the study.
We know from our recent research that children are forming stereotypes at the age of seven. We also know that they are abandoning their aspirational careers between the ages of nine and thirteen.