Key Stage 2 Career-related Learning Pathfinder Evaluation

David Teeman, Pauline Wade, Palak Mehta, David Sims, Karen White, Caroline Bergeron

01 May 2011

The career-related learning pathfinder was a pilot programme which took place in seven Local Authorities (LAs) in 2010 with Key Stage 2 pupils. The main aims of the pathfinder were to: increase pupils’ awareness of career/work opportunities; increase their understanding of the link between education, qualifications and work opportunities; reduce gender-specific career/role stereotypes; and engage parents/carers in the process. The then Department for Children, Schools and Families commissioned NFER to evaluate the effectiveness of the Pathfinder between July 2009 and October 2010. The evaluation comprised a scoping study, pupil surveys in treatment and comparison schools and seven school-based case studies.

Key Findings

  • Pupils involved in the pathfinder pilot showed increased awareness, knowledge and understanding of types of employment and pathways to get there.
  • The Pathfinder intervention was associated with an increase in career-related learning activity in these schools in comparison to what similar schools were doing.
  • There was evidence that the Pathfinder had helped to raise pupils’ aspirations for the future and extend their horizons about what they could do in the future.
  • Pupils involved in the Pathfinder pilot showed increased understanding of the link between education, qualifications and careers and a more positive attitude towards school and education.
  • Pupil survey results indicated that over the course of the evaluation, Pathfinder pupils showed a greater decrease in stereotypical thinking and greater improvements in their perceptions of the effectiveness of career-related learning in their school than comparison pupils.
  • All case-study schools had attempted to engage parents/carers in the Pathfinder pilot but few had been successful in achieving this.
  • Other benefits to pupils involved in the Pathfinder pilot included improved skills (including teamwork and independence) and increased understanding of different sources of help/advice about making choices.
  • The fact that all case-study schools were intending to continue the Pathfinder despite the end of additional funding and that some schools intended to extend it lower down in Key Stage 2 is testament to the perceived benefits of the Pathfinder.

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