CAREER EDUCATION – WILL SOMEONE TELL MINISTERS WHAT IT MEANS ?

Lack of  clarity at heart of government policy on careers  .

Sam Gyimah, the Minister responsible for Careers guidance in schools, has recently been referring to  the importance of career education. Well , it  is important ,but  it is not at all clear that he understands what it means. If you look at his comments, in context, he seems to be talking not about career education but  instead  about work related learning and employer engagement. Worthy though that might be, it  is not the same as career education.   But he  is not alone in repeating this misunderstanding. This week researchers from the University of Bath told us how important career education is, and its impact on young peoples   future earnings  The researchers say  ‘The ever changing education system confronted young people with a complex world. This has been partly addressed by government emphasis on career education while students are at school’. But the research  was focused on employer engagement with young people and its long term  benefits, not on career education.

The reality is -there   isn’t any emphasis on career education in schools. In fact, career education, as commonly understood, is  virtually non-existent in most schools  which lack a   strategic approach to the teaching, learning and assessment of career education . There may be more interaction between employers and students (although it would be interesting to see the data on this)  but that is not strictly speaking career education.

This could  go some way to explaining the confusion at the heart of the governments policy on careers and the fact that the Careers  and Enterprise Company are focused almost entirely now on employer engagement and championing what are termed  ‘Enterprise’ advisers.   They really do think that employer engagement is the same as career education (and Guidance too  it seems)

The Career Development Institute says about career education that it is   ‘Planned and progressive programmes of activities in the curriculum which help students to develop the knowledge and skills to understand themselves, research the opportunities available, make decisions and move successfully on to the next stage’.

Career guidance, offered by an independent qualified professional,  (signally lacking in too  many schools) plays a vital role in helping individuals make the decisions about learning and work that are right for them. But there is an underlying assumption that for this   to be  really effective,  young people  also need career education.  Meaning  young people   need to have the knowledge and skills to access and make good use of the information, advice and guidance they are given . They also need to be equipped with  the skills of career management to seek out opportunities, make successful applications and manage transitions. That is whats  accepted as  career education.  The OECD sees career education as integral to Career Guidance- so career education programmes involve specifically  help  and support  for individuals to  develop their ‘ self-awareness, opportunity awareness, and career management skills ‘(Career Guidance-A Handbook  for Policy Makers – OECD -2004)

And so its safe to assume that a Career educator is not  in fact an employer involved in an interaction with a young person but instead a qualified  professional  individual  with the right pedagogic approaches to develop individuals’ career management skills, to seek out opportunities manage transitions, and so on.

Work-related learning ,on the other hand, is a separate issue. This provides opportunities for young people to develop knowledge and understanding of work and enterprise, and  to develop skills for enterprise, something that Ministers talk about all the time. And this involves engagement between young people  with employers, enterprise advisers and, of course, combined with  access to  good quality work experience..

In a recent briefing paper for Careers England and CDI,   Tristram Hooley, Claire Johnson and Siobhan Neary gave an insight into the challenge faced by those who want to offer career education. . They   said  “The professional training and career progression for careers teachers and careers leaders in schools is less clearly defined.” But ,” While various attempts have been made to establish a CPD pathway for teachers who focus on careers work, these have generally had a limited reach into the teacher workforce.”

Tami McCrone of the NFER  in her recent evidence to the Select Committee wrote ‘I conclude that there is considerable robust evidence that suggests that quality careers advice provision would benefit from an equal focus on first laying the foundations with careers education and ensuring that parents are well-informed in terms of the careers education and guidance their children are receiving.’

So ,its pretty easy to conclude   that the government really  hasn’t been placing emphasis on career education, (if only it  had)

What it has been doing is  placing emphasis  on employer engagement and work related learning., important though that might be to the guidance offer.  But this is happening almost to the exclusion, of career education and genuine independent, professional guidance, including face to face guidance.(which evidence tells us benefits the most disadvantaged pupils, the most)

If you are unclear about what you are talking about, how will you get your policy right?

In the meantime the Careers and Enterprise company (CEC)  would have us believe that it is transforming career guidance. What it  actually means is that  it is  increasing the level of engagement that young people have with  employers and enterprise advisers, which  is not the same as improving career guidance or  providing career education.

The CEC will be able to measure its inputs fairly easily, but will have a challenge on its hands  to measure its outputs, both in terms of the quality of the employer interventions it facilitates , the value they add, and.  more broadly on the impact the CEC is having  on  on the availability and accessibility  of  high quality professional career  guidance in schools.,to young people, particularly the most disadvantaged. .

It remains the case that young people in our schools are not getting better access to independent  professional careers guidance  than they did five years  ago,     then rated as  ‘poor’ and ‘patchy’. And  with the modest  resources that are available ,  going mainly to employer engagement, under the aegis of the CEC,  this is unlikely to change.

ACADEMY U TURN- TELEGRAPH LETTER

Published Letter-Daily Telegraph 10 May
SIR – The Government’s U-turn on forced academisation is welcome. If maintained schools are good, or outstanding, they should be supported. Forcing structural changes on successful institutions would be dreadful politics, and counterproductive to efforts to raise attainment.
There is significant support in the Conservative Party for academies, but this is balanced by a distrust of centrally driven prescriptive interventions. Whitehall doesn’t always know best, but even Tory ministers often forget this maxim.
Politicians should always go with what works. They should also respect the views of parents.
Patrick Watson
London

SELDON WANTS A DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT IN TEACHING QUALITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Sir Anthony Seldon ,the Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham ,in a new pamphlet for the Social Market Foundation think tank, lays out  his vision on how to enhance, professionalise and make more consistent the quality of teaching at British universities for undergraduates and postgraduates, without burdening universities with a heavy,  costly bureaucracy ,which runs  the risk of  delivering  drab, formulaic teaching.

Much can be learnt ,he says, from the Secondary sector. Sir Anthony  draws on his experience as a successful  teacher and Head , who transformed two schools in the private sector.(Brighton College and Wellington College)

There is a perception that Universities spend too much time focused on building up their reputation for research ,and too little in ensuring that their students benefit from, and are inspired by, good teaching.

Sir Anthony says:

” “Universities should be every bit as much about the interests of the student as the academics. Yet it is abundantly clear in too many universities today that the leadership and the academics care far more about their research than about the quality of the learning experience of their students”

Sir Anthony  identifies  the ‘Big Ten’ characteristics that all good teaching exhibits:

Engagement of all students. In the digital age, it is more vital than ever that teachers learn how to actively engage the attention of their students.

Deep teacher subject knowledge, informed by the latest research / scholarship. Digitalisation means that students more than ever before can have access to information in real-time. Teachers need, as never before, to be on top of their fields, and to have a depth of understanding, in order to set the ubiquitous information into context.

Clarity of teacher exposition / organisation, and understanding of course requirements. Far too often, teachers can be unclear in their communication, or can fail to spread the material to be studied out over the time available in a balanced way. Students need to feel complete confidence that their teacher understands what they need to learn, and the pace at which learning is to take place.

Forging of positive relations, and a genuine and felt desire to see students make progress. Students learn better when they have a good relationship with their teacher. Students have a right to feel that their teachers have a positive interest in their academic development.

Willingness and skill at engaging in discussion and debate, and asking challenging questions. The best teachers know how to pose the questions that make the students think. Great teachers let the students work out the answers, rather than tell them the answers themselves.

Highest expectations, which stretch all students. The best teachers know exactly how high each student can aspire, and helps them to achieve at that level.

Setting and assessment of purposeful and relevant assignments. Assignments are vital as a way of testing understanding, and consolidated learning. Assessment by the teacher needs to show the student what they need to do to improve.

Ability to communicate in a differentiated way appropriate to the capabilities and potential of students. Classes are made up of students of vastly different capabilities and needs. The great teacher understands each individual student and addresses them appropriately. Learning is the end, and the best teachers help the student to become autonomous learners.

Promotion and achievement of independent learning, recognising that most learning will take place away from the academic.

Technical mastery, e.g. a voice that projects well and is audible, and mastery of technology. There is no point in having teachers, however brilliant and empathetic, if they cannot be heard clearly, or if they can’t use technology appropriately.

Solving the Conundrum-Social Market Foundation -May 2016

http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Social-Market-Foundation-Teaching-and-learning-at-British-universities-Embargoed-0001-030516.pdf

Note- The most recent University Guide places the University of Buckingham top for  ‘student satisfaction’, ahead of Oxford and Cambridge and other elite universities in the Russell Group.

UNIVERSITIES AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH-NO PLATFORMING APPEARS TO BE ILLEGAL

The NUS  seems to be keen on protecting sensitive students from ideas, arguments and speakers that might potentially offend them. Hence the emergence of ideas such as trigger warnings , safe spaces, and  no platforming, in other words preventing certain speakers from addressing student gatherings. Given that universities were established in the first place in  order to encourage freedom of speech and expression  ,  informed by the values of the Enlightenment, and the exchange of ideas, in order to help discover Truth, its all rather perplexing.  Freedom of Speech is only working if you are irritated by what other people are saying. Lets hope that  its all  a passing phase and that University administrators robustly oppose such nonsense. Interestingly though  the use of “no-platform” could be illegal.  The Sunday Times has seen   legal advice commissioned by the NUS. The  37-page legal opinion  says that  no platforming  is lawful only if applied to members of proscribed groups, such as terrorists. In other cases they breach part of the Education Act 1986, which requires universities to ensure freedom of speech.

For example The  Education Act 1986:

Part IV Miscellaneous

43 Freedom of speech in universities, polytechnics and colleges.

(1)Every individual and body of persons concerned in the government of any establishment to which this section applies shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers.

(2)The duty imposed by subsection (1) above includes (in particular) the duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of any premises of the establishment is not denied to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with—

(a)the beliefs or views of that individual or of any member of that body; or

(b)the policy or objectives of that body.

(3)The governing body of every such establishment shall, with a view to facilitating the discharge of the duty imposed by subsection (1) above in relation to that establishment, issue and keep up to date a code of practice setting out—

(a)the procedures to be followed by members, students and employees of the establishment in connection with the organisation—

(i)of meetings which are to be held on premises of the establishment and which fall within any class of meeting specified in the code; and

(ii)of other activities which are to take place on those premises and which fall within any class of activity so specified; and

(b)the conduct required of such persons in connection with any such meeting or activity;

and dealing with such other matters as the governing body consider appropriate.

(4)Every individual and body of persons concerned in the government of any such establishment shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable (including where appropriate the initiation of disciplinary measures) to secure that the requirements of the code of practice for that establishment, issued under subsection (3) above, are complied with…….

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/61

HIGHER EDUCATION-MORE SCRUTINY IN FUTURE OVER ITS SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RETURNS

The sector  in future will face growing scrutiny over its economic and social returns

The recent IFS report (see link below) discovered that that at 23 universities men typically earned less even 10 years after graduating than their counterparts who’d never been. For women, it was at  nine  universities. A University education, of course, is   not just about ensuring that you have high level earnings in future years. But ,if the perception takes root  that for most there will be no graduate premium, that universities wont really help  you to be socially mobile and you will be stuck with debt for many, many  years, then the obvious  danger is that  many young people will begin to turn their backs  on Higher education.

Recent decades have seen a major increase in participation in higher education throughout the developed world. UK now has proportionately more graduates than any other rich country, bar Iceland. To many, probably  most, this is a good thing. It has   demonstrably improved the life opportunities of many more young people. But to others there are concerns  . Perhaps the rapid expansion  was underfunded,  maybe the quality of teaching  has declined,  due to the  increased pressure  on academics to do more with less,   and perhaps   degrees have  devalued in the job market, through over- supply.  There  is already a   perception that many graduates are, in some senses, being underutilised in the labour market. Put another way ,many graduates are now in jobs that are not considered, or certainly weren’t historically considered,  to be graduate level jobs.  It is arguable that too many graduates are in jobs that are low paying and don’t utilise the skills and knowledge that their degrees gave them (or purported to give them). Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardian  this week points out that  one in six call-centre staff have degrees, as do about one in four of all air cabin crew and theme-park attendants.

This begs an obvious question- what is the point in creating more graduates unless you have more graduate-level jobs?

In 2015 the CIPD in a policy report concluded that ‘Policy-makers need to scrutinise the range of courses offered by the HE sector and seriously consider the social and private returns to them. We conjecture that they will conclude that, in many cases, public funds could more usefully be deployed elsewhere in the education and training system. Our findings suggest that the presence of a large HE sector will not necessarily lead to the attainment of the knowledge economy so beloved by successive UK governments.’

Its pretty safe to conclude that, in future, there will greater scrutiny from young people,  paying undergraduates , the government and regulators over the quality of degrees in HE institutions and the social and economic returns they  can deliver . It is also clear that there are some in government (see this weeks  Daily Telegraph leak story) who believe that some  degrees and HE institutions are not  currently delivering value for money for the students, and , indeed, taxpayers.

CIPD Over-qualification and skills mismatch in the graduate labour market-August 2015

http://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/over-qualification-and-skills-mismatch-graduate-labour-market.pdf

IFS Working Paper-April 2016- How English domiciled graduate earnings vary with gender, institution attended, subject and socio-economic background

http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8233

GOOD TEXTBOOKS SUPPORT GOOD TEACHING

The Government says ‘Good teaching and high academic standards are strongly associated with adequate provision and widespread use of high-quality textbooks.’ And, ‘ a well-designed textbook provides a coherent, structured programme which supports a teacher’s own expertise and knowledge as well as a pupil’s.’ Hard to argue with that.

Lord Nash answering a PQ on 14 April said ‘Cambridge Assessment’s report, ‘Why textbooks count’, analysed the use of high-quality textbooks around the world. The report found that use of textbooks is common in high performing education jurisdictions. In Finland, 95% of maths teachers use a textbook as a basis for instruction. In Singapore, 70% of maths teachers use a textbook. In England, only 10% of maths teachers use a textbook for their core teaching.On 26 March 2016, the Department for Education published a report from a review group looking at teacher workload in relation to planning and resources. The group concluded there is a case for schools to place greater emphasis on quality- assured resources, including textbooks, to reduce the time teachers spend on searching for resources.Good textbooks also have workbooks which support homework in a positive way by providing well-structured practice exercises linked to clear explanations, which parents can understand and use to help their children.We have been working with textbook publishers with the aim of improving the quality of textbooks available to schools, to better support excellent teaching and teacher professional development. Last year, the publishers produced a set of common guidelines for the production of textbooks.’

This is what Nick Gibb MP , the schools Minister, said in the Foreword to the Cambridge Assessment paper:

‘Ideological hostility to the use of textbooks, particularly in primary schools, developed in the 1970s. Their replacement with work sheets and hundreds of thousands of bespoke written lesson plans has added to teacher workload, detracted from coherence and impacted on standards. This seminal paper will, I hope, lead to the renaissance of intellectually demanding and knowledge-rich textbooks in England’s schools.’

 

Why textbooks count A Policy Paper Tim Oates –Cambridge Assessment -November 2014

http://www.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/images/181744-why-textbooks-count-tim-oates.pdf

TES-Tim Oates 18 April 2016

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/why-ditching-textbooks-would-be-detriment-learning