The Ladder

Supporting students towards successful futures and confident career choices

By: Andrew Bernard


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Products specifications
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Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 192
ISBN : 9781781353745
Format: Paperback
Published: February 2021

Written by Andrew ‘Bernie’ Bernard, The Ladder: Supporting students towards successful futures and confident career choices contains everything educators need to know in order to be effective advocates for young people and their future aspirations, pathways and career aims.

Foreword by Colonel Dame Kelly Holmes.

Regardless of one’s plans for the future, many people’s careers are founded on a series of chance encounters, experiences and serendipity. School, college, university, jobs, family, sports, hobbies, friends, relationships – these are all fertile grounds for career-related conversations and explorations.

What if teachers, guides, mentors, parents and peers started to notice these seemingly unconnected happenings and, indeed, started to engineer and encourage them to happen?

Using the mantra ‘every adult is a careers teacher’, The Ladder will inspire teachers to explicitly link their subject area to students’ futures, both in school and outside its walls, and support them in doing so. Bernie draws upon his 30-year career in education and business development to bring clarity, focus and ideas to educators as to how they can best start students on their own ladders to success.

In doing so, Bernie provides a range of user-friendly, engaging and downloadable materials for teachers to use with the young people they work with to help uncover their talents and link those talents to opportunities for growth. He also shares invaluable advice on how best to reach out to local businesses and external organisations to support your students’ careers education.

Ultimately, in writing this book Bernie’s aim is to bring young people’s futures to life with some personal skills reflection and forward planning designed to help them as they embark on their fulfilling futures – regardless of their upbringing, academic achievements or ethnic background.

Suitable for all teachers and educators, particularly those with responsibility for career guidance, wanting to help their students on the path to a successful future.

The CASK poster – a framework for self-reflection and recording of skills and knowledge on students’ career journeys, is available to download here.

Picture for author Andrew Bernard

Andrew Bernard

Andrew `Bernie` Bernard is an entrepreneur, a TEDx Speaker, a director of both Innovative Enterprise and National Careers Week, and a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association. Bernie – as he prefers to be known – has, since 2006, worked with schools, businesses, charities, universities and colleges to help over 150,000 young people bring their future to life through enterprise and careers workshops.


  1. “Every adult is a careers teacher”. This is one of the key themes of this book in which Andrew Bernard argues that careers education is the collective responsibility of guidance professionals, teachers, parents, and employers. Written in an engaging style, it is a practical guide as to how students should be supported to identify their ‘purpose’, build self-belief, and recognise and articulate their skills. Predominantly aimed at careers leaders and teachers, it provides a wealth of tips and activities to support this aim.

    The CASK (Continuum for the Acquisition of Skills and Knowledge) is presented as a set of tools to increase students’ self-awareness. All the resources are free to download and include some suitable for primary-age children and for those with SEND. Chapter 5 is a treasure trove of games, exercises and ideas that can be used in the classroom to broaden awareness of different jobs, challenge stereotypes and link careers to curriculum subjects.

    The value of involving external organisations in a careers programme and the wider curriculum is adeptly argued, emphasising its value in raising aspirations and tackling inequalities. Examples of organisations, projects, and resources to support educational institutions in delivering enriching careers programmes are included, all helpfully linked to the relevant Gatsby Benchmarks. There’s a step-by-step guide to engaging with employers; invaluable to any career’s leader setting out to establish stronger employer links.

    Powerful and thought-provoking case studies form the basis of a chapter focussed on careers education and support for students with SEND, prompting the reader to consider the need for a fresh approach. All in all, if you’re in any way involved in supporting young people with their career planning, you’ll find The Ladder a valuable and constructive resource.


  2. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, The Ladder contains everything classroom educators and school counselors need to know in order to be effective advocates for young people and their future aspirations, pathways and career aims. It is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to school district, college and university libraries, jobs and careers education collections, and supplemental studies curriculum reading lists.
  3. Within a changing landscape of education, job options and, more pertinently, an uncertainty over strategies for economic recovery and opportunities for students following COVID-19 and Brexit, The Ladder is an insightful and easy-to-read book that enables professionals and parents to help young adults to climb -˜the ladder' of careers education to achieve their potential. The book is full to the brim with practical tips, support structures and thought-provoking ideas linked to relevant research material. 

    Bernie communicates throughout that meeting the challenge to guide and encourage young people to take a more direct path to their future success and happiness is both doable and fulfilling. Particular strengths of the book are the range of strategies, tips and tasks for self-reflection, which are augmented by visually effective and supportive diagrams. The author discusses the use of CASK tools, the 7 Skills Assessment Sheet, the GROW model and STAR framework to plot learning, personal skills, -˜informed confidence' and self-worth to promote achievement and potential. He emphasises the need for adults to offer support in order to help young people gain additional skills that will open up -˜windows of opportunity' and create pathways for access. Current evidence shows that too many graduates in areas such as history, sport science, etc. are left in cul-de-sacs after graduating. 

    Bernie is a positive advocate of breaking down young people's misguided perceptions of barriers to climbing the ladder and sets out how they can start climbing. He emphasises the need to dispel fears and avoidance techniques such as -˜university is not for people like me'. The discussion on work such as the Gatsby benchmarks and push and pull factors in counselling, guidance and parenting are also beneficial. In addition, readers will benefit from Bernie's discussion on the need to offer realistic support to young people with SEND in making career choices. 

    This book is essential reading for all educators who have key roles in opening up realistic windows of opportunity, raising awareness and inspiring the -˜they did, you can' attitudes of learners in schools, colleges and universities to climb the ladder to happiness and fulfilment.
  4. The Ladder is a must-have manual for all who wish to help students make confident career choices. It is useful, practical, concise and, above all, encouraging and inspiring. It will be loved by career teachers, indeed all teachers, but it is also a valuable -˜dip in and dip out' resource full of tools and ideas for every adult wanting to help children and young people to enjoy a successful future. I read The Ladder as an employer, a business owner, the chair of an enterprise agency and a patron of a youth enterprise support organisation - and I will be recommending this excellent handbook to all of my colleagues. 

    I recommend Chapter 2 on the continuum for the acquisition of skills and knowledge (CASK) for every reader, but after that you choose the chapter of tools and ideas relevant to the student you are helping. The
    book features a number of tools - like the 7 Skills Assessment Sheet (7SAS) and the STAR and GROW models - and they are all clearly and helpfully explained. Most of the tools, ideas and recommendations are new to me, even though I've been interested in employability skills and enterprise education for nearly 30 years. Chapter 10 on -˜careers questions' is my favourite and I'll be recommending it to all of my colleagues, ranging from primary school teachers to educators at colleges and universities, especially in the run-up to Global Entrepreneurship Week. 
  5. The Ladder is a brilliant user guide for educators and employers invested in providing young people with opportunities to succeed. Brimming with self-reflection tools and practical and thought-provoking exercises, this is a great book for those of us who have been helped on our own path when we were younger, and are now looking for ideas and support to pay it forward.
  6. Life is like a game of snakes and ladders - this book helps students not only to find their ladders but to climb them too. Crammed with research, reflections and insights, The Ladder will be an invaluable resource for people helping students to fulfil their potential.
  7. Bernie is an amazing man whose passion has helped develop and encourage young people to aspire and to be successful, whatever their background or level of education. His very readable and useful new book continues this tradition - as Bernie's passion and enthusiasm to help anyone, and not just young people, is clear throughout The Ladder.

    If you are a school head, a teacher, a careers lead, a parent or a businessperson, then parts, if not all, of this book are for you. It can be used over many years to encourage you and to provide advice, guidance and sources of information. The Ladder will help anyone who, like me, believes that we must help encourage and support all young people to develop and then achieve their dreams.
  8. I've known and worked with Andrew -˜Bernie' Bernard for years. He always delivers practical, real-world and down-to-earth advice on employability and success for students. His new book The Ladder is no exception. A great read full of practical tips for both students and their teachers.
  9. Comprehensive and up to date, The Ladder is packed with practical and achievable suggestions for enhancing careers education from primary age upwards. Bernie has compiled a wealth of thorough research and draws on his years of experience working with young people across the UK. He provides a clear vision for how teachers can provide effective careers education for their pupils and shares his passionate belief that all young people should be encouraged - and enabled - to achieve their potential. 
  10. Not only will this book support those working in education, but it will ultimately transform the career journeys and experiences of young people everywhere. Packed full of information, tried-and-tested ideas, reflective tasks and case studies, The Ladder is a fantastic resource that I wish my teachers had read when I was in school!
  11. My careers master told me I should -˜do' business studies at Portsmouth Polytechnic. I've no idea why, beyond my having told him I found economics fascinating. Years later, having read economics at the University of Bristol and made a bit of a mark as an ITV newscaster, I did the prize-giving at my old school. The head teacher greeted me with the words, -˜I always thought you'd end up doing something like that.' He didn't mean it nicely. But my history teacher, who I adored, said: -˜Ah, Stewart! And what are you doing these days?' As a proud parent of four, I now know it is all about finding ambition, nurturing belief and keeping open the widest range of options.

    Enriched with references to an Aladdin's cave of qualifications, educational experiences and institutions, The Ladder encourages parents, teachers and trainers to think widely and laterally. It is the least we owe our children - and, for that, we owe Bernie a debt of gratitude.

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