The Gatsby Benchmarks

Gatsby Benchmark 6: Experiences of workplaces

Every pupil should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience to help their exploration of career opportunities, and expand their networks

The East Sussex Careers Hub runs two programmes to facilitate students' immersion in the workplace: Open Doors and Work Experience.

Open Doors

Open Doors is an innovative initiative that gives secondary students aged 11 to 19 the opportunity to visit East Sussex businesses. Small groups of students come to the business for a short session to meet staff, tour the company, talk about careers pathways and perhaps take part in an activity. Feedback by students shows that these visits have a strong impact on learners' behaviour and attainment. We have already seen students decide on career paths, take steps to work harder in school, and find work experience placements. For more information, contact Kim Bulgin.

In 2021 we will be running face to face visits again, if you have a workspace of any kind from factory floor to engineering site, we would love to hear from you. And if you cannot take in person visits you are still able to film yourself for Digital Open Doors. Visits are due to take place in November but also in Spring 2022. If you would like to receive the employer guidance please contact

Watch this video for an overview of the Open Doors programme.

Are you an employer and would like to get involved? Find out how you can set up your own Open Doors experience by hearing from employers themselves:

Work Experience

The Work Experience Team work with schools and employers to set up work experience placements for year 10 students aged 14 to 15. Work experience can take place at any time of year and usually lasts a week, although other timings are possible. For more information consult the work experience pages and see below for details of Virtual Work Experience.

The Careers Partners section of Compass Plus will give you access to other providers of work experience. Access further ideas from the Careers and Enterprise Company's resource directory.

Gatsby Benchmark 6 during the Covid-19 lockdown

Advice from the Careers and Enterprise Company is that, to include an (online) activity under Benchmark 6, it must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Learning outcomes are defined, based on the age and needs of students.
  • Student meets a range of people from the workplace.
  • There is extensive two-way interaction between the student and employees
  • Student must perform a task or produce a piece of work relevant to that workplace and receive feedback on it from the employer.

This can be achieved, for example, by a range of employees taking part in an online Q&A with students, and by the students completing an employer-set task and receiving their feedback on it.

East Sussex Virtual Work Experience

East Sussex Schools that are subscribed to the County Council's Work Experience service automatically get access to our suite of Virtual Work Experience resources: a comprehensive package of 20+ lesson plans, East Sussex employer videos and employer-set tasks. The teacher-led content covers up to five full days of lessons and can be delivered in the classroom or remotely. This package can be used with students who are unable to go on physical work experience. For more information contact the Work Experience team.

Other virtual work experience programmes

Many companies are providing in-house virtual work experience programmes, and this CEC guide lists the main ones.

Employability skills and the workplace

The Careers Hub has produced ten videos and lesson plans to develop learners' employability skills, featuring East Sussex workplaces. See slide five (notes section) of each lesson plan to access the video link:  

Aiming high

Staying positive







Problem solving


Youth Employment offers free skills training for young people aged 14 to 24. Encourage your students to enrol on the best one for their age group. Teachers can also sign up to receive teaching resources and there is also a suite of quick videos (around 2 minutes each) for students to get ‘virtual work experience’ themed insights, plus two workbooks for ‘virtual work experience’, for key stage 4 and 5, each of which takes around an hour to complete.

How to involve parents

One way to help with Gatsby Benchmark 6 is by involving parents - both online and face-to-face. The Career Share campaign encourages parents and carers across Sussex to take part in activities such as work experience, setting students tasks and providing feedback and making videos of their workplaces and staff - a combination of which will help you to meet Gatsby 6.

For more information and resources for schools visit Get Career Confident.

Help with Gatsby Benchmark 6 

Ask your Enterprise Coordinator and Enterprise Adviser for further advice and consult the Careers and Enterprise Company's resource directory.