Careers education at Duke’s Secondary School is delivered in a range of ways to all pupils form Year 7 to Year 13 and beyond.  Our programme encourages our pupils to think about career planning from their earliest time in Duke’s and supports this development throughout.  We participate in a range of projects to enable our young people to understand the breadth of opportunities available to them in their future education and employment, and partner with a number of organisations that support us in this aspiration.

Mrs. Danielle Towers
Head of KS5 and Careers

Mrs Towers works with students from across the school to support their understanding of future opportunities open to them; their progression through the school and into university or training; and to widen understanding of the career options available to them. She also supports other staff members to provide students with good quality career related activity as part of the curriculum and works closely with a wide range of employers.

Mrs. Danielle Towers can be contacted by telephone on 01670 816 111 or by email

Miss. Natalie Cain
Careers Adviser

Miss Cain is a Careers Adviser based at Duke’s Secondary School full time. During the academic year, Miss Cain will hold one to one guidance interviews in school on a weekly basis and support Careers Education for students in Years 7-13.

Miss. Natalie Cain can be contacted by telephone on 01670 816111 or by email

Mrs. Helen Freeman
Head of Personal, Social, Health and Careers Education

Mrs Freeman leads the PSHCE and tutorial programmes across Duke’s School, ensuring that pupils participate in a broad curriculum that helps them to grow personally and prepare vital life skills for their future.

Dr Marie Labus
Enterprise Adviser

Marie is Chief Executive Officer of AMLo Biosciences, a spinout company from Newcastle University developing in vitro diagnostic products for early-stage cancers. AMLo are based in Newcastle city centre and employ 15 people from the Newcastle and Northumberland areas. AMLo’s employees range from school leavers and adult apprentices to graduates/postgraduates, with diverse educational backgrounds, with a firm focus on transferable skills and on the job training.

As our Enterprise Adviser, Marie brings here experience of STEM and lifelong learning, and works alongside Mrs Towers supporting the careers programme to ensure it is fit for business, advising on career options for students interested in working in the biotechnology sector, advising the Senior Leadership Team on enterprise and employability matters, and assisting the school by providing links to the business world.

Dionne Smith

Enterprise Adviser

As an Employability Business Partner at Bernicia, Dionne is passionate about working with schools and businesses to help more people achieve the skills they need to thrive in the
world of work and embed employability skills within the educational curriculum from
an early age to inspire ambition and enthusiasm.

Dionne works closely with Duke’s to identify opportunities which will meet
the needs of our school and the students, support and develop self-confidence,
build self-esteem and improve the overall skills required to enter the world of work.

Danielle Towers, Marie Labus and Dionne Smith will work together to provide students with unique career guidance and development experiences.

Miss. Su Fletcher
Link Trustee for Careers

Su sits on the local governing board for Duke’s Secondary School. She works at the school as Head of Science and supports Danielle Towers in advising the careers programme and forging employer links.

What is Careers Education and Guidance?

The aim of CEG is to help learners find out about the world of work, develop key employability skills and ensure that they take responsibility for planning their own career pathway.

CEG at the school takes place within lessons, assemblies and tutor time, as well as through school trips and visiting speakers. Your child will learn how to research different jobs, make decisions at options times and find out what opportunities are open to them once they leave Duke’s. 

Individual Guidance

All learners from years 9-13 have the opportunity for face to face guidance with Miss Cain, the school Careers Adviser. They can request this either by asking their tutor or a teacher, or they might be referred by a member of staff such as a Head of Year. Learners in years 7 and 8 can also request a careers appointment and this might be carried out during a lunch time library session. Most careers appointments last about half an hour and all students who have a meeting with Miss Cain will receive an action plan summarising their plans and identifying their next steps. Action plans will also be shared with parents/ carers and uploaded to the Unifrog platform for student and tutor access.

Parents and carers of all learners can request an after-school appointment by ringing 01670 816111 and leaving their contact details for Miss Cain, Careers Adviser.

What can a learner expect from careers guidance?

Learners with Special Educational Needs

The progression of learners who have SEND is a responsibility of the Duke’s Careers Adviser. Our Careers Adviser will ensure that these learners are supported throughout their transition from Year 9 and continue in appropriate learning once they leave the school. Such support may involve the completion of an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

To find out more about how our school Careers Adviser can help your child, contact the SEND team or Miss Cain on 01670 816111.

Support for learners who have left school

Learners who leave Duke’s Secondary School after Year 11, 12 or 13 can access support from Northumberland County Council’s Careers Guidance Team at various local community venues. Professional careers advisers from the team are available to see school leavers in the Ashington area. They can be contacted at County Hall on 01670 620008, by text on 07827 244027 or via email at

Learners are also welcome to keep in touch with the Careers Team at Duke’s for support with university or apprenticeship applications as well as general careers advice. The team will contact school leavers on an annual basis to gather information about your current destination.

The National Careers Service

This is a free service for both young people and adults. Young people aged 13 and over can use the service to find information about jobs and courses, as well as requesting 1:1 support from a qualified Adviser by ringing the helpline, emailing, texting or requesting a webchat. Call 0800 100 900 or log on to the National Careers Service.

Other useful sites containing careers information include:


Investor in Careers Quality Award

Duke’s Secondary School was awarded the IiC quality award in Careers Education and Guidance in July 2018. This is a nationally recognised award that demonstrates a school is meeting the highest of standards in preparing its learners for the world of work.

The Trustees and staff of Duke’s Secondary School are committed to regaining The Quality in Careers Standard by 31st July 2023. We have incorporated this reassessment in our current school development plan.

Our aim is to provide an outstanding programme of careers education, information, advice and guidance activities that satisfy national requirements and provide guidance which enables us to address the career development needs of all our students.

Our certificate of commitment can be found below. 

Committed To Work Towards Certificate IiC

Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Careers Guidance

Duke’s Secondary School is proud to be working towards achieving the national Gatsby Career Benchmarks for high quality and effective careers guidance. Duke’s was part of the original pilot of 13 schools in the North East who explored new and innovative ways of delivering careers education, information, advice and guidance. The eight Gatsby Benchmarks were published in 2014 and now play a vital role in improving careers work nationally. You can find out more here

Enterprise Adviser Initiative

Duke’s Secondary School was one of the first schools in the region to be appointed an Enterprise Adviser. The idea of the national Enterprise Adviser Initiative is that prominent local figures from business and industry support the school in preparing students for the world of work. Marie Labus, CEO of AMLo Biosciences actively works with her staff on joint projects that will give Duke’s learners a real insight into how a cutting edge business succeeds in today’s global market.

Duke’s Annual Careers Plan- what can students expect from their Careers Education?

All learners from Years 7-13 have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of career related activities during their time at Duke’s Secondary School. These activities include, World of Work days, workplace visits, guest speaker assemblies and career ready programmes plus many more. However, we continually try to evaluate and improve our programme by gathering feedback from all stakeholders. The Duke’s annual careers plan will be reviewed again in 2022/23.

Should you wish to comment on our careers provision or are interested in supporting the programme in some way, please contact the Careers Team on 01670 816111 or by e-mail at

Duke’s Annual Careers Plan

Guidance on what careers education looks like for individual learners can also be found here.

Duke’s Careers in the Curriculum

“All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers.” (Gatsby Benchmark 4)

Statutory Guidance for Careers Education and Guidance, Jan 2018

At Duke’s we recognise the importance of incorporating careers learning into curriculum areas. Staff are encouraged to do this through dedicated Careers Weeks, National Apprenticeship Week and through links with local employers. Each department has a dedicated ‘Careers Champion’ who serves as a link with employers and monitors career related activity within the curriculum area. All staff have access to the Unifrog platform which includes up to date labour market information, a resource library and career profiles demonstrating how the skills developed in their subject areas link to jobs.

Effective Careers in the Curriculum delivery allows teachers to increase engagement and understanding by showing students what they learn in the classroom in the context of real life scenarios. This makes the subject more relatable to the world of work and relevant to everyday. Real-life contexts and examples from the world of work can make subjects easier to understand and help students feel more engaged in their learning. Above all, linking curriculum learning to careers can boost achievement and help students to progress. Students are less likely to drop out if they know about opportunities for further study and how the subject can be combined with others to give access to different pathways (The Gatsby Benchmark Toolkit for Schools, CEC 2019).

Duke’s Careers in the Curriculum Plan

How can you support our careers programme as a parent or carer?

The Careers Team at Duke’s believe that parent/ carer involvement in careers conversations at home can have a significant positive effect on the decisions learners make about their future. As a result, involving parents/ carers in our programme is very important to us.

There are three main ways that you as parents and carers can contribute to the careers programme at Duke’s Secondary School. These are detailed in the document below.

How could you be involved as a parent or carer?

How can you support our careers programme as an employer?

As a school we work closely with a wide range of local and national employers. The Careers Team keep an update to directory of employer contacts and readily seek out new links to improve the scope of sectors that are represented in our provision and fill gaps where necessary.

We are always on the look out for employers to support the delivery of our careers programme. This can give young people in your area the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the world of work.

There are three main ways that you as employers can contribute to the careers programme at Duke’s Secondary School. These are detailed in the document below.

How could you be involved as an employer?

Duke’s Raising Aspirations School Progression Plan

The Duke’s Raising Aspirations Plan has been based on the North East Regional Progression Framework, allowing us to build a programme that increases the knowledge and understanding students have of Higher Education as well as supporting their progression goals.

The Regional Progression Framework is structured in three phases; introductory, developmental and consolidation. The phases are underpinned by six higher education learning objectives;

  • LO1: Introducing Higher Education
  • LO2: Routes to further and higher education
  • LO3: Attainment and how this supports progression
  • LO4: Financial support for further and higher level study
  • LO5: Applying to further and higher education
  • LO6: Transition to further and higher education

At Duke’s we aim to provide students with a wide range of opportunities and activities which address the learning objectives identified and help students make informed decisions about their future. Below you will find our school progression plan, detailing our offer.

Raising aspirations school progression plan

Duke’s Secondary School Documents

Duke’s Secondary School careers policy

Provider access policy

Our students progress into excellent destinations when they leave Duke’s. These include higher education, further education, apprenticeships, employment and training. The Careers Team at Duke’s stay in contact with students who have not secured a destination for September throughout the autumn term to offer advice and support where required.

Gatsby Benchmarks Pilot School
The School has also been recognised for its work with a pioneering national initiative that aimed to transform the way that careers guidance was delivered in schools.  We were one of 13 North East schools and three colleges working with the North East LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) in the National Careers Benchmark Pilot. Its aim was to build links between education providers and businesses and was financed by the Gatsby Foundation.

Watch this video to find out more:

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Investor in Careers accreditation
As a result of our work in developing careers education, we are proud to have been awarded the Investors in Careers quality mark in 2018.

NE Ambition Careers Hub – Lead School
In July 2018, the North East was selected as one of 21 areas across England to host a prestigious Careers Hub dedicated to improving careers education for young people. Duke’s Secondary School has been selected as a “Lead School” within the Hub, working with the Careers and Enterprise Company and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver high quality careers education within the region.

Our Head of KS5 and Careers reports regularly on the impact of the programme through line management meetings and in reports to the Senior Leadership Team of Duke’s Secondary School, the Executive Leadership Team of NCEA Trust, and the Governors and Trustees of NCEA Trust. We have two link governors who hold the Head of KS5 and Careers, and Principal to account for the progress in this area, and who report on their findings to meetings of the Full Governing Body and the Academy Standards and Improvements Committee.

Whole school tracking is completed by the Careers Leader to ensure all students are receiving careers education including personalised activities and encounters to meet their needs. Some events take place on a large scale and are designed to help students explore pathways whereas some are tailored to meet students’ needs or to target specific groups such as pupil premium, SEND, high achievers etc.

Capturing the opinions of those taking part in careers events is very important to us. We listen to what our employers, parents and our pupils tell us about our careers programme, and we implement changes based on this feedback. Event specific evaluations are provided by external organisations or the Duke’s Careers Team. We also use the Future Skills survey to assess the impact of our careers programme over an extended period of time. Students complete the survey in the autumn term and again at the end of the academic year.

We utilise the Compass careers benchmarking tool from the Careers and Enterprise Company to measure our performance in self-evaluation against the Gatsby Benchmarks for good careers education, and we are regularly reviewed by representatives of the Gatsby Benchmarks organisation to validate or challenge our own evaluation.

We also participate in the Investors in Careers programme, which requires external validation of our careers programme.

Duke’s Strategic Careers Action Plan

For 2023-25 we have reviewed and amended the Duke’s Strategic Action Plan. The document outlines our vision for careers education, the current state of our provision and an action plan for us to work on over this academic year and next with the aim of securing all eight Gatsby benchmarks.

Duke’s Strategic Careers Action Plan

The Career Development Framework

To measure the impact of our programme, we also review it in line with the new Career Development Framework. The framework describes the six career development skills that people need to have positive careers.

  • Grow throughout life
  • Explore possibilities
  • Manage career
  • Create opportunities
  • Balance life and work
  • See the big picture

Our aim is to ensure our careers programme focuses on these key learning areas. More information on the framework can be found at

To view the audit of our programme against the framework, click the link below.

Career Development Framework

The School’s partnership with renewable energy giant, ORE Catapult has been cited as an example of best practice by education experts.

As well as taking part in the School’s World of Work (WOW) Day, which sees over 30 leading employers and learning providers give students an insight into a range of different careers, ORE Catapult has also provided work experience opportunities and one to one mentoring.

In 2022-23, Duke’s Secondary School began an exciting new partnership with Morgan Sindall Infrastructure. (Morgan Sindall Infrastructure is the Primary Contractor on Northumberland County Council’s Northumberland Line.) We have taken up their offer of an Education Partnership Pledge which highlights Morgan Sindall Infrastructure’s commitment to local schools to support pupils with their learning, personal and academic development to help them to make career choices that are right for the individual, the industry they choose to join and the community in which they live and work.

The School has also forged strong links with a wide range of national and regional employers including Bernicia Group, AMLo Biosciences, Northumbria Healthcare Trust, AkzoNobel, Northumberland County Council, plus many more. In addition, we work closely with further education providers and higher education institutions both locally and nationally.

University and UCAS

The UCAS widget links students and their parents to important information about higher education and the UCAS application process.

Through simple and intuitive navigation, it’s easy for users to increase their knowledge of the information and advice UCAS has to offer. The content will be reviewed regularly by UCAS so it remains up-to-date and relevant.

Why should I use it?
Parents and carers with little or no prior knowledge of higher education can find it hard to understand how best to support their child throughout the process. By using the easy-to-use widget above students and their parents can access the information they need, when they need it.

University Student Accommodation
LeapSkills on behalf of Unite students (the biggest university accommodation provider) have put together some activities students can do with parents/carers to prepare them for moving into university accommodation. Click to download the free Leapskills Parent/Carer brochure.


For students considering an apprenticeship after school or for those who would like to know more about this route, ASK have created a programme of resources which are updated on a regular basis. Students can watch pre-recorded Apprenticeship Awareness Assemblies to learn more from home about the different types of apprenticeships available and the various pathways they may take.

Learn how to find an apprenticeship and set up an account to apply: click to find out more.

The programme features an Interactive Student Apprenticeship Guide which includes 10 hours of self-directed learning activities.

Duke’s Secondary School are proud to take part in National Apprenticeship Week every February which allows students from all year groups to find out more about this pathway and how it links to their own interests.

Apprenticeship Parents Pack

The latest apprenticeship information & advice for parents, supported by the National Apprenticeship Service is updated monthly in the Amazing Apprenticeships Parents’ Pack.

The Parents’ Pack can be found using the link below and includes information on mental health and wellbeing, understanding buzz words and how to link them to your strengths, CV expectations, employers top tips for applicants and much more!

Success at School: Advice for parents/ carers

Success at School have set up a mailing list for parents/ carers to help you support your child with decisions about their career pathway. Sign-up using the link below for tailored content straight to your inbox.

Success at School supported by JP Morgan have created a fantastic guide to help parents and carers steer their children through the confusing world of careers choices. From university and apprenticeships to work experience and gap years, the guide has it all. Parents can preview the guide using the link below.


As a school, we have subscribed to an award-winning, online careers platform called Unifrog. Students have their own individual accounts which they can access during tutor time or at home. We have also set up a parent/ carer login so that parents/ carers can use Unifrog as if they were a student. The form code needed is: parentsnorthumberland and sign up can be completed at: The Unifrog Careers Library tool features guides to hundreds of job roles. Each guide includes detailed labour market information to support students to make informed decisions.

Unifrog have also created a parent launch video on YouTube to provide a tour of the platform. The video can be viewed here.

Labour Market Information

Access to up to date career and labour market information is important for helping students to explore potential pathways for their future. Labour market information includes information on: skills and career pathways in the local labour market, job applications and interviews, qualifications and entry requirements, employment sectors, salaries, employment trends, apprenticeships, job demands and working life.

At Duke’s we ensure students have the opportunity to gather information about the labour market where they live through assemblies, tutor time activities, Unifrog and weekly visible updates around school.

To help parents/carers keep up to date with developments in the North East, Northumberland College in association with Duke’s have created a useful leaflet including information on the 5 occupations with the highest growth and the 10 skill shortage vacancies in the North East.

Local and regional updates can also be found in the LMI bulletin below. This is updated regularly.

LMI update

The information on this page was last updated in October 2023 and will be reviewed annually or more regularly in the event of any major changes.