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Benchmark 7 – Encounters with Further & Higher Education

Encounters with Higher & Further Education

Meaningful encounters with providers cover a wide range of ways young people can learn about their compulsory post-school options. They provide off-site visits and direct interactions with key institutions, staff, and alumni. Covering the full range of learning opportunities available to students.




All students should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and the workplace.


• By the age of 16, every pupil should have had a meaningful encounter with a provider of the full range of learning opportunities.


• By the age of 18, all students who are considering applying for university should have had at least two visits to universities to meet staff and students.

Key points

  • The school or college works in the best interests of the student and does not actively promote one option over another
  • Students are informed of all their different options in Years 7-9 including apprenticeships, sixth form, Further Education and Higher Education provision


  • Key messages around career and progression pathways should be reinforced in Years 10-11 and again in 12 and 13.
  • Staff avoid making judgements about the prestige and status of different pathways and providers in case you unwittingly influence your students inappropriately

Careers Leaders:

Getting started with BM7

Refresh your knowledge and understanding of all pathways at key transition points:


Consider how you can share this information about pathways at key transition points with students, staff and parents/carers

  • Coming soon: Staff Careers CPD Resource
  • Help curriculum staff to understand pathways from their subject but sharing the My Learning, My Future Resources with curriculum colleagues

Refer to the Making it Meaningful checklist when planning any Benchmark 7 activity

What is a meaningful encounter?

Meaningful encounters with providers cover a wide range of ways young people can learn about their post-compulsory school options. They provide off-site visits and direct interactions with key roles, such as lecturers, current students of apprenticeships.

My school does not have a 6th form, do I need to provide two encounters with universities?

No, the requirement is one encounter by the age of 16 so you only need to provide one.

There is no sixth form within commutable distance, how do we meet this requirement?

The key word here is meaningful. If there is no sixth form that is accessible to the majority of students then there is no point in promoting an option that is not a realistic option. However, this is where the work of Careers Advisers (BM 8) may help to identify provision or opportunities that should be highlighted to individual students and their families

Do the two visits apply to students who aren't considering University?

The requirement state those ‘who are considering applying for university’, however, you should ensure that students are aware of all options and are being encouraged to consider aspirational outcomes, of course, this does not always mean university and should be applied to those it is relevant for.

How can I offer meaningful encounters with Independent Training Provider?

An Independent Training Provider could be any institution providing a recognised pathway into work or training which can include apprenticeships, pre employment basic level training or recognised vocational training.

What is our legal duty on providing access to providers of technical education and apprenticeships?

The government introduced a new legal duty from January 2018 which requires all maintained schools and academies to ensure there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access all pupils for the purposes of informing them about approved technical education qualifications. Schools are required to publish a Provider Access Policy on their websites setting out when and how providers can access students through the year.

Do I need to provide encounters and information about all options to all students, even if they are set on going to university?

Yes, it is important that all students, whatever their ability, understand the full range of options available to them so they can make an informed choice when making decisions at 16 and 18. This includes the full range of learning locations and
qualifications on offer.

Careers Leaders may need to help teaching staff and others across the school understand all the options available to