Professor Tony Watts, one of our foremost experts on CEIAG, has just resigned from the National Careers Council . He and Heather Jackson ,who also resigned , issued a joint statement which began:
“With great regret we have resigned from the National Careers Council. We disagree fundamentally with some of the recommendations presented by the Council to the Minister for Skills (Matthew Hancock) on Wednesday 1 May. We also have strong concerns about the process through which these recommendations were arrived at.”
The statement continued:”‘Our main disagreement with the NCC recommendations is the proposal that the funding for the NCS should be ‘rebalanced’ to provide greater emphasis on services that support young people. The explanatory paragraph for the recommendation starts ‘Tough times demand tough choices’ and goes on to argue that young people should take precedence over adults in terms of resources. This proposal allows DfE to escape its responsibilities by proposing that the BIS budget fill some of the gaps in services for young people, thus selling the pass on the existing services for adults.”
Professor Watts has been a consistent and trenchant critic of current government policy on careers guidance to young people. He has argued that the governments approach should be based on robust evidence but that , so far, this has not been the case . The government favours a school- based approach which, in an international context, is not regarded as best practice. He has expressed concerns too over weak accountability and a shortage of funding.
He asks where the funding has gone, following the demise of the Connexions Service. A foot note in the statement points out that the funding provided for the careers guidance element of the Connexions Service totalled around £196 million. The responsibility for providing careers guidance to school pupils has now been transferred to schools, but none of this funding has been transferred: it has been allowed to disappear. (there is no ring- fenced funding for careers guidance in schools. CEIAG must come from existing school budgets). The only DfE funding provided to the National Careers Service for services for young people has been the £7 million it has provided for a helpline. This has contrasted with the £83 million provided by BIS to the NCS for services for adults.
It is accepted that, for the most disadvantaged pupils, face to face advice from a fully qualified professional is probably the most appropriate form of advice, but it is also the most expensive,so schools will be less likely to offer it to their pupils.This in turn might undermine the governments own skills and social mobility agendas and make it harder too for it to reduce the number of young people not in education,employment or training. Schools will also not be inspected or rated on the quality and scope of the CEIAG they offer their pupils.
CEIAG is Careers Education ,Information Advice and Guidance
NCS is the National Careers Service
Too early to say?
The new duty on schools to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance only began in September 2012 . The government believes that it important that sufficient time is allowed for the duty to bed in before any firm conclusions are drawn about the effectiveness of the new arrangements. Lord Nash recently indicated in the Lords (22 April) that ‘We are evaluating the impact of the new duty in a range of formal and informal ways.’
The Government have also commissioned Ofsted to carry out a thematic review of careers guidance, which will report this summer.
In addition, according to Lord Nash, the government is ‘publishing education destination measures to show the percentage of students progressing to further education or training in a school, further education or sixth form college, apprenticeship, employment or higher education institution. The measures provide us with evidence of how effective schools are in supporting pupils to move successfully into the next phase or their education or into sustainable work, including through the provision of independent careers guidance.’
Ministers and officials meet and correspond regularly with a range of stakeholders on issues relating to the delivery of careers provision in schools, says Lord Nash, which is true, but Ministers are not taking on board what stakeholders and the experts are telling them. No independent report from a reputable source on government reforms to careers advice and guidance in schools has endorsed government policy in this area and international evidence suggests that school based advice is the least effective (see the research from Professor Tony Watts and OECD). There are grave concerns too that only limited access to face to face advice is being offered to pupils which may have a negative effect on the social mobility, access, skills and inclusion agendas. Evidence suggests that the most appropriate form of advice for disadvantaged pupils is face to face advice from an independent fully qualified professional.
The government defends its policy by saying that it trusts in school autonomy. Schools themselves must make these decisions. But schools are not as autonomous as the government would have us believe. The government through its individual funding agreements with academies, for example, prescribes what schools have to do in certain areas . And if schools believe that they are autonomous when it comes to the way they use their extra funding for disadvantaged pupils, through the pupil premium, then they ought to look very carefully at recent speeches from the schools minister, David Laws and Sir Michael Wilshaw of Ofsted.
Lord Nash is confident that the government has detailed enough evidence ‘relating to the effectiveness of school-based careers guidance to inform future improvements in the quality of provision,’ while concurrently telling us that there is not yet enough evidence to gauge whether the new school- based service has bedded in. You dont need to be a rocket scientist to work out that schools, under budgetary pressure, will go for, the most part, for the cheapest option, and that is not face to face advice.
It will be particularly interesting to see what Ofsted has to say in its thematic review. However, there are no plans to make a specific graded judgement on the quality of careers guidance in respect of the school inspection framework and the common inspection framework.
Over a third of young people are interested in just ten occupations
Reinforces the case for access to good independent careers advice
A paper out last month asks a simple question: is there any alignment between the career aspirations of young people, aged between 13 and 18, and the best estimates of actual demand within the current and future British labour market?
The paper says ‘The question is relevant to young people, employers and the UK’s future prosperity. The question is pertinent to young people who make important decisions about their future at ages 14, 16 and 18. Such decisions, about subject options chosen or dropped and experience sought, gained or missed are essential to the ultimate prospects of young people in the jobs market. This paper asks, therefore, whether teenagers, as they make these decisions, do so with career aspirations in mind which reflect realistic opportunities in the world of work. The short answer is they don’t.
Emma Norris’s 2011 report for the Royal Society of Arts engaged 30 staff members and 32 students from four English Further Education Colleges in structured discussion about future decision-making. She found that: ‘students are not fully aware of the diversity of jobs available in different sectors. This leads them to develop aspirations that are neither determined by their ability nor based on a comprehensive understanding of the types of jobs available. …FE learners do not find it easy to access people who have experience of the careers or education they would like to pursue. As a result, their understanding of particular sectors is often restricted to only the most visible roles and jobs, for instance in law – a 4 barrister; in television – an actor. FE learners who decide to pursue law, or broadcasting, consequently direct their energies into attaining the most desirable, competitive and visible jobs in these disciplines as they are the only jobs they know of. (Norris 2011, 16)
A project team from the University of Glasgow reached similar conclusions in 2011.
Considering the attitudes and experiences of 490 pupils in three urban areas (London, Nottingham and Glasgow), the team lead by Ralf St Clair, found little knowledge of available jobs or how to get them: ‘there was little correspondence between the structure of [local] labour markets and young people’s aspirations and expectations. …Parents’ hopes for their children were mainly unspecific as to occupations; there appears to be little awareness of routes to success. …Overall, there seemed to be a common lack of understanding of the ways in which school, post-school education and vocations were linked (St Clair et al, 2011, 58, 64)
A further recent study, also commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, reached a similar conclusion.
Loic Menzies’s review of the aspirations of disadvantaged pupils found that they were often high, but that commonly such young people and their parents lacked the knowledge and connections to provide reliable insight into how to achieve career ambitions (Menzies 2013).’ The results support the findings from earlier studies cited above that commonly young people are unable to understand the breadth of ultimate job opportunities across the economy leading them to potentially identify unrealistic career aspirations. From an employer perspective, the findings presented in this paper strongly suggest that labour market signalling is not working. The survey shows 36.3% of teenagers to be interested in just 10 occupations (teacher/lecturer, lawyer, accountant, actor/actress, police, IT consultant, doctor, sportsman/woman, army/navy/airforce/fire fighter, psychologist) and, as stated, half of career interests to lie in just three of 25 broad occupational sectors. While some employers will be spoilt for choice in considering new recruits, others are very likely to be struggling to find young people who are aware of the job opportunities they have to offer and well prepared by their educational choices for them.
Again, this reinforces the case for easy, early access in schools and colleges to high quality, independent careers guidance for teenagers.Ofsted is currently reviewing careers advice in schools but anecdotal evidence from Careers England suggests that the quality and scope of this advice varies dramatically between schools, following recent changes . Face to face advice from a professional is not always easily accessible although this is seen as the most appropriate form of advice for disadvantaged pupils.
Nothing in common: The career aspirations of young Britons mapped against projected labour market demand (2010-2020) Dr Anthony Mann, David Massey, Peter Glover, Elnaz T. Kashefpadkel and James Dawkins March 2013
This report represents the results of a collaboration between b-live, charity the Education and Employers Taskforce and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. It is published within the Taskforce’s Occasional Research Papers Series.
REPORT ON IMPROVING ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION FOCUSES ON DEFICIENCIES IN CAREERS ADVICE AND GUIDANCE IN SCHOOLS
A new report the ‘National Strategy for Access and Student Success; Interim report to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Office for Fair Access identifies, interalia , a major area of concern in relation to easing access to higher education for the most disadvantaged pupils- namely ‘the changes that came into effect in September 2012 to careers education and guidance.’ In short, schools were given statutory responsibility for providing access for their pupils to good quality independent careers guidance.
The report states ‘The Education Act 2011 ends the statutory requirements for local authorities to deliver a universal careers service to young people. Schools have instead been placed under a statutory duty to secure careers advice but have not been given any additional funding to do so. The requirement to provide careers education has also been removed.’ The report then identifies evidence reflecting these concerns. It states ‘A report by the Work Foundation argues that ‘without careers education, careers guidance is reduced to an abrupt and isolated intervention’. They urge that ‘careers education should be embedded in the curriculum as early as primary schools and expanded on with age’
The report continues ‘ In its evidence to the Education Select Committee in October 2012, the Institute of Careers Guidance said of the guidance offered to young people:
a. There is no overall coherence of career guidance provision whatsoever for young people up to 18.
b. For young people in schools, provision is a postcode lottery subject to budgets and head-teachers’ commitment to independent, impartial career guidance.
c. The service in schools is at best restricted in terms of student coverage and limited to the 30 weeks of term-time provision. In the past, students and parents have always appreciated the opportunity to access independent career guidance during school holidays. Now, at these times, it is not possible to access independent career guidance without payment.
d. E-mail correspondence between the Association of South East Colleges and the Skills Funding Agency has highlighted that the National Careers Service website excludes a range of courses offered by colleges of further education that are not funded by the Skills Funding Agency.
e. Young people between 16 and 18 who are in employment but wish to change direction or develop their career prospects do not have access to any independent face-to-face careers guidance service without payment
Furthermore, in its report of 2011, the International Centre for Guidance Studies argued that the situation for schools was challenging as they adapt to the loss of Aimhigher, Business Education Partnerships and the erosion of the Connexions service.
The centre argues that ‘the removal of the statutory duty to provide careers education could result in a focus on “activities” rather than on a developmental curriculum’
Crucially, this National Strategy for Access and Student Success report says in Para 145 pg 51 :
‘ In light of such concerns, we anticipate that the final report may recommend that a greater governmental focus on issues of advice and guidance within schools and colleges will be important in terms of maximising the return on investment in widening participation to HE. The strategy will also explore how HE can most effectively engage in supporting good information, advice and guidance (IAG) concerning HE in schools and colleges in the new environment.’
Experts agree that face to face careers guidance from an independent, qualified professional is, more often than not, the best form of careers advice and this is particularly the case for the most disadvantaged pupils. A number of reports, including those mentioned above, stress the importance of easy access to high quality advice. This will help ensure that pupils are better equipped to make informed choices regarding the pathways into further and higher education , training and work as well as improving access to higher education for the most disadvantaged pupils and in advancing the governments social mobility agenda.While government guidance encourages face to face advice, where appropriate, it is left to schools to decide the type and scope of advice they will offer to their pupils.Given that there is no ring fenced funding for this advice , experts believe that schools, under budgetary pressure ,will opt for cheaper, lower quality forms of advice ie telephone advice and access to advice through a web portal. The new National Careers Service is focused mainly on the needs of adults.
From September 2012, the Education Act 2011 placed schools under a duty to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance for their pupils in years 9-11. The Careers Guidance in Schools Regulations 2013 will extend the age range to which the duty applies. From September 2013, the duty will be extended to include all registered pupils in year 8 (12-13 year olds) and years 12 and 13 (16-18 year olds).
A CIPD survey this month finds that parents and pupils are not getting sufficient or appropriate advice in schools on Apprenticeship options, which affects their take up and credibility.The survey – Employee Outlook: Focus on Apprenticeships – looked at responses from more than 400 employees with children under the age of 18. It found two-thirds of parents believed apprenticeships were a good career option, yet, only 15 per cent of them thought school teachers gave their children enough information about them as an alternative to a university education.
Ofsted may adjust its framework this September giving careers advice a priority
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector, has given the strongest indication yet that schools’ careers provision could be formally inspected as part of Ofsted’s framework from September.
While inspectors take into account the extent to which “pupils have gained a well-informed understanding” of the career options available to them, there is no separate grade for careers provision. As a result, critics have warned that schools are not being adequately monitored to ensure they comply with their statutory duty to provide pupils with impartial and objective advice on qualifications and pathways into training, further and higher education and work. Ofsted is, however, undertaking a ‘thematic’ review of careers advice in schools. Early signs, though, are that the quality and scope of careers advice now on offer in schools varies dramatically.
Appearing before the Commons Education Select Committee on 13 February, Sir Michael stressed the need to “recalibrate the schools framework to focus more on careers advice”.
“It’s really important that impartial advice is given to students on progression routes and I’m not sure that’s the case,” he told MPs. “In our adjustment to our inspection framework from September we will give the inspection of careers advice a priority.”
The Full exchange- Education Select Committee Hearing 13 February:
Q27 Pat Glass: Can I move off the agenda slightly and ask you a different question? When Matthew Hancock, the Minister, appeared before us recently, we were looking at careers advice and guidance, and he said he was looking to Ofsted to inspect and monitor that. I pointed out that Ofsted had said very clearly that they did not see it as their role to inspect the statutory duty in schools, and asked him if he was going to have a word with you. Has he had a word with you about it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Matthew might want to come in here. My view is that it is a good idea to devolve this funding to schools.
Q28 Pat Glass: There is no funding being devolved to schools; the only thing that is being devolved is the statutory duty.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. It is important that we do monitor it effectively. It is really important that impartial advice is given to students on progression routes, and I am not sure that is the case. In our adjustment to our inspection framework from September, we will give the inspection of careers advice a priority.
An Ofsted spokeswoman later qualified Sir Michaels remarks, telling the TES (22 February) that the watchdog would not make a final decision on whether to give careers greater prominence in school inspection reports until the summer. “We will draw on the findings of the Ofsted thematic survey, due to be published in the summer, and consider if any changes are required to its inspection frameworks,” she said.
The Government recently announced that schools careers duty will be extended to years 8 to 13 from September 2013
NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL-WILL REPORT IN MAY ON HOW SCHOOLS ARE COPING WITH DUTY TO PROVIDE INDEPENDENT CAREERS ADVICE
THE NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL
The NCC will report on how schools are adapting to their new statutory requirement to offer independent careers advice
Early evidence hardly encouraging
Evidence suggests that good-quality careers guidance interventions in schools have a positive impact on decision-making processes, reduce course switching, drop-out rates, and contribute towards successful transitions within statutory and further education, according to the National Careers Council. The National Careers Council provides advice to government on strategy for the National Careers Service and allied career support services.
However, according to the Council, findings from the OECD and other studies highlight career education programmes that develop career management skills (including career adaptability and resilience) in many schools are lacking. The Council is gathering intelligence on this issue and will be report in May 2013 on how schools and colleges have adapted to the new arrangements emerging from the Education Act and new Statutory Guidance. (A recent survey from Careers England found that careers advice in some schools is actually worse now than it was before guidance was issued). The National Careers Council says ‘ So far, many schools are indicating how ill-prepared they are, as they are increasingly faced with a weight of marketing material from prospective providers. Head teacher bodies have expressed concern in this regard. The impact of the Statutory Guidance needs to be monitored closely.’
The NCC is not wrong about the need to monitor provision , particularly as funding for careers advice and guidance is not ring fenced and schools may well be tempted to opt for the cheapest option (ie access to a web portal etc) when face to face advice is often more appropriate, particularly for the most disadvantaged pupils. Ofsted is not inspecting the quality of careers advice and guidance offered by schools, so there are understandable concerns that standards will drop. The government ,aware of these concerns ,has promised a ‘thematic’ Ofsted review of careers guidance in schools which is due to report this summer . Good, early careers advice is widely seen as one important measure to assist social mobility.
A recent report from the ‘Education Select Committee: Careers Guidance Inquiry’ put the spotlight firmly on the need for young people to have access to good quality independent and impartial careers guidance
(Source NCC written evidence to the Education Select Committee)
A new duty requiring schools to ‘ secure independent careers guidance for pupils in years 9-11 came into force in September 2012. Guidance secured under the duty must be provided in an impartial manner and include information on the full range of 16-18 education or training options, including apprenticeships.’ The Government also recently announced an extension of the careers duty to years 8-13 from September 2013. Colleges will also be required to secure guidance for their 16-18 year-old students.
The Department for Education has also published a practical guide to help schools carry out their new responsibilities.
Young people still receiving inadequate advice on education choices
Mckinsey have just published an important report ‘Education to Employment’ that seeks to identify why there is such a gap between what businesses and employers want, and need, and what education systems provide. Around the world, governments and businesses face a conundrum: high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of job seekers with critical skills. How can a country successfully move its young people from education to employment? What are the challenges? Which interventions work? How can these be scaled up? Almost 40 percent of employers say a lack of skills is the main reason for entry-level vacancies. If employers are not confident that the system delivers what they want, young people it appears also lack confidence in the system. Half of youth are not sure that their post -secondary education has improved their chances of finding a job. Youth unemployment rates are unacceptably high as is the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training
It has become received wisdom that businessmen need students with more practical vocational skills. While vocational education appears to be a good solution for policymakers, it has, in fact, low or lesser perceived value among students.
This was an important finding. The research compared student “perceptions of value” between traditional education and vocational education and apprentice programmes. In the research every country values traditional education over vocational education except for Germany.. Germany, of course, is a country regarded as something of a model when it comes to practical skills and vocational programmes, with a myriad of apprentice-based programmes and it has among the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe.
Unfortunately, even there vocational programmes are not always seen as the answer. 23% of students who attended vocational programmes there felt they attended the wrong institution, and 42% are unsure they took the right programme. This is hardly encouraging.
The report also highlights, more generally, the fact that young people are not getting the advice they need at a crucial time of their lives. The report states ‘they face the daunting task of choosing what to study and where to study it. The evidence is distressing: way too many young people take a wrong turn here. Fewer than half of those surveyed are confident that if they had to do it again, they would study the same subject. That’s a lot of disappointment; it’s also a sign that students don’t have the information they need to make the right choices.’
In short ,Youth are not well informed when making educational and career choices .
The report continues ‘Some 40 percent of youth report that they were not familiar with the market conditions and requirements even for well-known professions such as teachers or doctors. Without this understanding, many students choose courses half blindly, without a vision of whether there will be a demand for their qualifications upon graduation.’ Sounds familiar?
Politicians wax eloquent about social mobility and the importance of making informed choices at critical points in life. Yet a majority of young people do not have access to high quality, independent advice. They might have an ambition, for example, to go to university but then fail to take the qualifications that they need to achieve this, because they know no better aged 13 and there is nobody there to support them. Its not rocket science. Social mobility cant and wont improve if so many young people don’t make the choices that maximise their potential. Until politicians grasp this nettle ,nothing will change.
The Governments approach to careers guidance in schools is pretty straightforward. Schools now have a statutory duty to give their pupils access to independent careers advice and guidance. But the type of guidance is a decision left up to individual schools. And they have to pay for it from their schools budget-ie there is no ring fenced funding.
Types of advice range from access to a web portal, to a telephone chat or face to face advice . A recent survey by Careers England found that the type and quality of advice now on offer varies significantly between schools. Careers advice has been reduced in more than eight out of 10 schools in England in the past year, the research suggests.Face to face advice, the type regarded as most appropriate for the most disadvantaged pupils, is in short supply. It is of course the most expensive option.Some schools are almost cavalier in their disregard for their new statutory duty, possibly aware that Ofsted will not inspect the quality of the careers advice and guidance on offer in their school.
Professor Tony Watts ,one of our foremost experts on information advice and guidance, summarises the governments new approach as not about delegation but abdication. Watts told the Education Select Committee this month that it is strange that a government so keen to measure our education system against the very best in the world, ignores international evidence in this particular area. Evidence from high performing countries is that not one country leaves it just up to schools to provide careers advice to pupils without regulation .In Finland, for example, each school has to produce and publish a plan for careers guidance. Each school also has professional careers counsellors,indeed careers education is a mandatory part of the curriculum, and there are very clear guidelines for schools on careers guidance.
Experts, giving evidence to the Select Committee, claim that there are a big economic benefits to ensuring that we give our pupils access to good, independent, professional careers advice and guidance . But we also have a moral obligation to do so.
What is most perplexing about this is that a government that has a genuine commitment to improving social mobility attaches such a low priority to ensuring that our most disadvantaged children have guaranteed access to professional face to face advice at an early stage. They need this support to enable them to make informed and appropriate choices to maximise their potential. Without it, it is hard to envisage social mobility improving any time soon.
Note-Independent research (9 November) for the Association of Colleges found:
- 44% of school teachers admit to giving a pupil bad or uninformed advice in the past
- 82% of school teachers don’t feel they have the appropriate knowledge to advise pupils on careers, and 82% are calling for better guidance on advising pupils about their options post-16
IS THERE COHERENT CAREERS GUIDANCE IN SCHOOLS?
Not according to the experts
The Education Select Committee asked those providing evidence for its hearings on careers guidance in schools about the overall coherence of the careers guidance offer to young people. A number of organisations delivered written evidence, see link.
CfBT Education Trust, which has a strong track record in providing careers advice and guidance to young people, including through Connexions, said in its written response to this question :
‘There is none. It is more random than a postcode lottery, depending on not only the school you are at but also the local authority area you live in. If there are over 6000 schools in England then there will be over 6000 varieties of delivering the new duty as the guidance is so woolly and the enforcement non existence. Furthermore there will be 147 different varieties of support for students when they leave school as each local authority will manage their services differently, giving no coherent picture for a young person who moves from one area to another.’
Prospects (also giving oral evidence) largely concurred. It stated, in its written evidence:
‘Sadly the overall coherence of careers guidance offered to young people has been greatly fragmented in recent months, and there are now only pockets of meaningful careers guidance remaining. Some schools offer independent, impartial careers education, information and guidance, some do not. Some head teachers have a clear understanding of the importance of careers work, others do not. For young people this means it is very much the “luck of the draw” whether they will or will not receive comprehensive and coherent careers guidance.’
And what does Careers England have to say about it:
‘The mounting evidence is that the quantity of careers guidance support being secured by many schools is a dramatic reduction on previous arrangements, flawed though some of the most recent policy was. The quality of what is provided directly by schools is already acknowledged by Ofsted as being at best variable . Emerging evidence across the country suggests that some schools will seek to provide it “on the cheap” when faced with constrained budgets – and the expectation that they will ‘‘find the money’’ from within existing budgets to purchase a service which hitherto was provided to them at no direct cost to the school.’
And here is what the Institute of Careers Guidance has to say:
‘From our findings it appears that a significant number of schools in our sample are paying little attention to, or even ignoring, the new duty. We have heard reports of schools, when challenged, state openly that they do not expect the new duty to be policed or enforced. Where schools have decided to employ their own careers adviser, securing someone with a recognised qualification is at best a minor consideration. There are no reports of a headteacher making any reference to using the new Professional Register for qualified career guidance professionals to find a suitable professional . In this respect, the permissive nature of the Statutory Guidance has clearly done a disservice to a qualified careers guidance profession’.
This hardly amounts to a ringing endorsement of the governments approach which is simply to leave provision of careers advice up to schools but without any ring fenced budget and then to hope for the best. Its not as if the government wasn’t warned.
Professor Watts gives a qualified welcome to the new Guide on independent careers guidance
Professor Tony Watts believes that the newly published Practical Guide for Schools on Securing Independent Careers Guidance represents a positive outcome for the work of the Liberal Democrats, and for the lobbying undertaken by Careers England and other members of the Careers Sector Strategic Alliance. The Guide is directed at head teachers, school staff, governing bodies and local authorities. It relates to the duty, under the Education Act 2011, for schools to ‘secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance for their pupils from September 2012’. It seeks to supplement the Statutory Guidance issued in March 2012 by ‘offering additional practical information’ on which schools might wish to draw ‘when interpreting your new responsibilities and deciding on the most appropriate forms of independent careers guidance for your pupils’.
On the crucial issue of face-to-face guidance, (as opposed to by phone or web portal) the Guide states: ‘Increased complexity and competition in education and labour markets means that most, if not all, young people would benefit from individual, face-to-face careers guidance to enable them to make informed decisions about future options based upon consideration of the wealth of information available from a range of sources and media. As highlighted in the statutory guidance, this is particularly crucial for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or with special educational needs. Face-to-face guidance with a qualified careers adviser will enable your pupils to review their circumstances, abilities, interests and aspirations as they make decisions about future education, training and work options.’
This goes some way to meeting the professions concerns based on the statement in the Statutory Guidance, that face-to-face guidance is ‘particularly’ relevant to children from disadvantaged backgrounds or with special educational needs which could easily be read as implying that it is only relevant to just these pupils.
Professor Watts says the following about external support- ‘On the nature of what needs to be commissioned from outside the school, the Guide indicates that schools with an in-house careers adviser can ‘retain’ him or her (again, as previously, blurring the issue of whether schools without one can now appoint one) but that this will need to be supplemented ‘with external sources of careers guidance to meet the new duty’. It extends the list of such sources to include not only ‘an external careers provider’ but also ‘employer visits, mentoring, website and telephone access’ and notes that ‘taken together, the external sources must provide information on the full range of post-16 options and access to face-to-face support where needed’. This, Professor Watts concludes, ‘would seem designed to encourage use of external face-to-face careers providers without requiring it.’ However, although Ministers have said that ‘Where there is clear evidence of a school failing to meet its statutory duties, we will take action’, it is not clear who will monitor the implementation of these duties. Ofsted says that that it will not inspect against them -so who will?
Professor Watts, who has been highly critical of the government’s approach to Careers Advice, Guidance and Education in schools, is much more positive about this Guide. He says in a recent Commentary for Careers England (July): ‘.. within the framework of the Coalition Government’s policies, it (the Guide) constitutes a stronger statement of Government expectations from schools than has been available previously. It should help schools to meet their new responsibilities, vague as these still are, in a more positive and thoughtful way. It merits strong promotion to schools from the Government, from Careers England and its members, and from other careers organisations.’
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