Investor in Careers - Lipson Cooperative Academy

The school

Lipson Cooperative Academy joined the Ted Wragg multi-academy trust in January 2022, just after achieving Good in their OFSTED inspection of November 2021. Family and kindness is at the heart of everything we do and our ethos is to ensure that all students are “the best that they can be”.

“We believe that happy, challenged and well supported students perform better, and we ensure the necessary support is in place to help them succeed in all aspects of school life.”

Lipson serves a diverse and deprived inner-city area in Plymouth. There are 1159 students (232 at post 16) of which 42% are Pupil Premium, 28% have SEND status and 18% being EAL students. Our Progress 8 score in 2020/21 was -0.07, Attainment 8 was 47.28 with an average grade of C+ at post 16 and 45% going to university.  We offer a wide range of post 16 courses; A–Levels, Level 3 vocational qualifications and Level 1 – 3 work related courses (CACHE, City & Guilds, NCFE).


Lipson was reaccredited with the Quality in Careers Standard in October 2022 for the seventh time since the original award was gained in 1998. Throughout this time, the school has used this award to plan, deliver and evaluate our careers education provision, finding it an invaluable tool to ensure we have maintained our excellent provision towards students, parents, staff and the wider community.

Although the Gatsby benchmarks and the support from Career Hubs via the Careers and Enterprise Company now offers schools a framework through which to assess careers provision, Lipson believe that it is still important to use the Quality in Careers Standard. The standard, which is linked to the Gatsby benchmarks, enables schools to undertake a deeper dive into their careers provision than a Compass Evaluation for example.  Lipson achieved 100% in all eight of the Gatsby benchmarks in March 2022 and in our most recent OFSTED, careers provision was mentioned as thus:

“Leaders have ensured that an effective careers programme is in place. The school meets the requirements of the Baker Clause, which requires schools to provide pupils in Years 8 to 13 with information about approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships.”

Benefit for all stakeholders

We believe that students, parents, staff and the wider community (including employers) have found inspiration, support and a willingness to participate through our careers provision. There is a core programme of careers education, information, advice and guidance for all students from Years 7 – 13 that is supported by employers and external organisations such as CSW Group, Next Steps SW, Future First and the Careers and Enterprise Company.  Subject specific careers provision is offered within faculties by teachers and regular communications are shared with parents/carers.  Our careers provision is mapped to the Quality in Careers Standard, Gatsby benchmarks and the CDI’s framework, ensuring that all our students are prepared for the next stage in their education and employment.

The Quality in Careers Standard

The process of working towards the Quality in Careers Standard has always been an in-depth process. Our reassessment in 2022 was, however, the first time we had undertaken this reaccreditation using CSW Group’s electronic portfolio which has the distinct benefit of cutting down on a lot of paper! The electronic portfolio process is fairly time-consuming, but does have the particular benefit of enabling schools to cross-reference supporting documents.  Part of the reason why the portfolio is so time consuming is because of the in-depth nature of its framework. However, this approach is necessary to ensure  that a school’s careers provision is as good as it can possibly be.  The recommendation of the Careers Leader would be to begin the process in good time (if a school is undertaking re-accreditation) and to use the support offered by the CSW Group. A positive element of the assessment is the ability to gain feedback on each section before finally submitting the portfolio as a whole. Undergoing a reaccreditation during a pandemic however is not to be recommended!


The Careers Leader at Lipson have been in post since 2002 and has therefore taken responsibility for the school’s reaccreditation of the Quality in Careers Standard since then. The importance and relevance of this award has not diminished over the years and therefore, the recommendation is that all schools should work towards achieving or maintaining the standards of this award so as to ensure that the planning, delivery and evaluation of their career’s education programme is robust and of purpose to all stakeholders as possible.


Rebecca Marshall
Careers Leader