NEW REVISED CAREERS GUIDANCE FOR SCHOOLS-STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Quality assurance and professional standards key

Schools will need to demonstrate that they provide a high quality and impartial service.

It seems that the constructive engagement of some of the best professionals in the IAG sector with officials at  the DFE, along with a change of Secretary of State, has served to shift the policy  ground on careers guidance in schools. It may have some way to go but progress is being made.  Michael Gove famously instructed his Permanent Secretary to ensure that officials stop sending him and his advisers submissions on the urgent need to  reform IAG in schools. Officials were reassigned away from careers guidance. It was assuredly  not a policy priority.  Nicky Morgan, who replaced Gove,   was advised   by the Select Committee Chair, Graham Stuart, to take another close look at Careers guidance in schools ,which  by common consent  is rated as patchy and fragmented . She appears to have heeded his advice, although there is still some way to go .Ministers still seem to  place rather too much faith in the idea that all that is really needed is for employers to engage more  directly with schools and for work experience to improve . This is an important part of the equation, but it is only part of it.  Good, face to face advice from a qualified, independent professional will always be an essential element of  the IAG offer , and is  particularly important  for the most disadvantaged.

It is  much too  early  to say whether the new independent  careers and enterprise company  ,established to broker relationships and  to break down barriers , between the key stakeholders will have a transformative effect. It aims, of course,  not just to break down barriers but  to  help schools choose professional advisers.

There has though, clearly  been a  real effort to focus on quality assurance in the new revised statutory guidance, see link below (previous guidance was seen as too weak in this area).

Schools will not be allowed to simply designate a teacher without the necessary recognised professional qualifications to provide careers advice and guidance. Here below an extract:

Evaluation and monitoring of advice and guidance

Quality assurance and feedback

  1. In developing careers provision for pupils, there are currently three aspects of quality assurance that schools should take into consideration:
  • The quality of the school careers programme. The Government recommends that all schools should work towards a quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance as an effective means of carrying out a self-review and evaluation of the school’s programme. The national validation, the Quality in Careers Standard, will assist schools to determine an appropriate quality award to pursue. There are currently twelve quality awards that are recognised as meeting the Quality in Careers Standard.
  • The quality of independent careers providers.The recognised national quality standard for information, advice and guidance (IAG) services is the matrix Standard. To achieve the Standard, organisations will need to demonstrate that they provide a high quality and impartial service. Schools can access an online register of organisations accredited to the matrix Standard.
  • The quality of careers professionals working with the school. The Career Development Institute has developed a set of professional standards for careers advisers, a register of advisers holding postgraduate qualifications and guidelines on how advisers can develop their own skills and gain higher qualifications. The main qualifications for careers professionals are the Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG) (which replaced the earlier Diploma in Careers Guidance) and the Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development. Schools can view a register of careers professionals or search for a career development professional who can deliver a particular service or activity.

 

Careers England, the Quality in Careers Consortium and the CDI deserve some credit for their persistence in seeking to secure these important changes. And in ensuring that they developed a clear set of professional standards.

A national data base will operate from 15 October making available a full range of post-16 options and opportunities.

 

Ps David Harbourne ,who heads research at the Edge Foundation, which has been critical of the quality and scope of careers advice in schools,  noted that the new guidance rather too often says “should” rather than “must”

 

Careers guidance and inspiration in schools

Statutory guidance for governing bodies, school leaders and school staff- March 2015

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417142/Careers_Guidance_Schools_Guidance_March_2015.pdf

ARE LESSER TAUGHT LANGUAGES UNDER THREAT?

Exam Boards intending to drop some languages 

But if they are so important to the government shouldn’t they subsidise them ?

A brief Commons debate this week (24 March) reminded us that a number of exam bodies have decided to pull out of teaching GCSE and A-Level for what is termed ‘lesser-taught’ modern languages.

It seems that from 2016 or 2017 we will lose a large number lesser-known languages. These include Arabic, modern Greek, Japanese, Urdu, Bengali, modern Hebrew, Punjabi, Polish, Dutch, Persian, Gujarati and Turkish. The decision by exam bodies has been made on the grounds of low uptake and/or financial viability

A report by the CBI published in 2014 found that 65% of businesses say they value foreign language skills, most importantly for building relations with overseas customers and overseas suppliers.

Minister Nick Gibb confirmed that “some exam boards have announced their intention to discontinue their qualifications in some languages. Those decisions appear to have been driven more by short-term commercial interests than by a robust analysis of the language skills our economy will clearly require in the future.”

We have a particularly poor record in this country when it comes to learning the main foreign languages, let alone ‘the lesser known languages’. The Government through its Ebacc and other  measures has sought to address the challenge of protecting the main modern languages, but this measure doesn’t much help the lesser ones.   Language learning is facing a ‘difficult climate’ in schools as take up at GCSE and A-Level remain low, according to a recent  report from the CfBT Education Trust and the British Council,  while attracting enough pupils to study a language post-16 is seen as the ‘most widespread challenge’ for language teachers’.

Its an interesting point made by Gibb about the skills requirements of the economy but since when have exam boards been responsible for analysing the language skills our economy will require in the future? They react to demand, and incentives, and are currently not incentivised to protect  these lesser taught languages .You can provide incentives either through the accountability framework or through financial rewards.

Exam boards have to make decisions that are commercially sound. Take Turkish, an example used by Gibb. Turkish GCSE attracted only 1,403 entries last year, and for the Turkish A-level there were only 354 entries. How does it make commercial sense to continue with these qualifications? Polish was mentioned several times in this debate. In 2013/14, the number of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 attempting GCSE Polish was 3,321. In 2013/14,  700 students were entered for an A-level examination in Polish.

Gibb has promised to raise the issue with the Heads of  the exam boards and invite them “to consider their positions “and ,rather grandly,  added ,with all the gravitas he could muster ,that he wanted  the  boards “ to subordinate what I believe to be a commercial calculation to the far more significant long-term economic and cultural considerations for this country.” The latter is his job. And if he and the government think it so important they should provide the incentives rather than insist that the exam boards take a hit.

Gibb, at an early  point in the debate,  suggested that “compensation” (ie some form of subsidy) might be an option .   suggesting he  would address this issue  later  on in the debate ,but then never did.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150324/debtext/150324-0004.htm#15032473000009

POST ELECTION EDUCATION POLICIES -SOME PREDICTIONS

 

To some, Education is an ideological battleground with the traditionalists fighting a rear-guard action, against the ever -encroaching, progressive ‘Blob’ .But the reality is somewhat different. Beneath the often overblown rhetoric, there is considerable consensus in key areas of policy, with a golden thread of continuity. Elections, of course, are all about differentiation, creating space between parties, offering clear choices.

But   given that educators businessmen and investors crave predictability, here is  a checklist of what we know will be on the agenda post May 7th.

The starting point is that we will have not left austerity behind. Schools and the system will see a real terms drop in their funding, estimates vary on this  5-7% maybe , so  school leaders  will  haveto  be smarter in the way they use their resources.

Next , improving the quality of teachers and teaching, and its corollary raising the status of the profession. Teacher training and particularly their professional development will be high on the agenda, as will the establishment of an independent College of Teaching in 2017. A focus on the most disadvantaged pupils, and narrowing the attainment gap between them and their peers, will still be there along with the Pupil Premium, extra funds targeted at those on free school meals and other interventions targeted at this group.

Next, its widely accepted that singleton schools are less likely to drive up standards than those that are collaborating effectively with others. So the system will seek to encourage more meaningful partnership working, across the system, and these partnerships will be inspected. Talking of which, Ofsted is ripe for fundamental reform, as confidence in   the consistency, reliability and fairness of its inspections leaches away.

The demand for high quality research into classroom interventions that work and how to improve pedagogy will increase and the means to disseminate and network high quality research to ensure it gets to the chalk face and is more easily accessible, will be a major challenge of the next administration. Efforts will be made to encourage more bottom up school based research.

A shortage of school places, widely predicted but not acted on ,  particularly at the primary phase, will mean that more capacity needs to be built, and soon ,so  financial engineers will,   even now,  be working out how best to secure this, with private sector support.  But it will also mean that new schools will have to be established in areas of highest demand, which up to now, has not always been the case.

Its is widely accepted that the autonomous school system has an accountability deficit, and so tinkering with the accountability system, creating an effective middle tier will continue.

Employers and admissions tutors continue to grumble that young people do not have the skills needed to thrive in HE and the jobs market -so a cottage industry will develop around how best to advance the character education agenda, and deliver support for non-cognitive soft skills, across the system. This is linked  with concerns over young peoples mental health , and efforts will be made to  include schools in a cross cutting strategy to  improve the capacity to identify and support pupils with mental health problems within the schools system, but also to help pre-empt  the onset of problems through targeted pastoral support and activities that promote resilience

Currently  patchy and downright poor  careers advice and guidance in schools, serves to blunt opportunities for young people,  while undermining  the social mobility, access, skills, reducing youth unemployment , NEET   and inclusion agendas,  (all of which will remain on the agenda) so more reforms will be  on the way in this area. Policy on careers guidance has been incremental, reactive and dysfunctional in this administration.

The system still struggles to provide and teach, to the required standard,  a range of high quality vocational and practical qualifications  that are respected by employers, so this struggle will continue and expect more on the Technical Baccalaureate. The drive to improve the Apprenticeship offer will continue

In higher education, the two biggest challenges remain funding, and the quality and relevance of degrees and the student offer, which provide both threats and opportunities to a sector not known for its entrepreneurial zeal. HEIs that fail to deliver on numbers and quality will either merge, or go under.

As for Teachers, they will shrug and wish that politicians would stop their whimsical interventions , get off their backs, reduce their workloads  and allow them  time to consolidate and use their professional judgement .Most will  vote Labour, it was ever thus, and regardless of their political colour, give any incoming education secretary a hard time. Plus ca Change

BEHAVIOURAL ECONOMICS -TURNING ITS ATTENTION TO EDUCATION

 

Behavioural economics attempts to integrate insights from psychology, neuroscience, and sociology in order to better predict individual outcomes and develop more effective policy.

Much of the focus of Behavioural economics had initially been on trying to work out how and why consumers make choices, but this has extended into the political, social financial and educational spheres.  Politicians are now interested because you can tweak or nudge ,  for example, welfare and social services to encourage individuals to make decisions or, indeed not  to have to make decisions in some instances , that benefit them ,but also the state.

Making decisions is not easy. Some decisions are carefully thought through, others are seemingly random. There has long been an assumption that when we make choices we will, because we apply reason, make, more often than not, choices that protect and advance rather than damage our interests.  But its increasingly clear that sometimes, rather too frequently, we make poor decisions. Are we making a decision based on reason or emotion, for example? Can we get beyond our own cognitive biases? If we have several options don’t we occasionally, confused, make the wrong choice?

We also tend to follow the crowd, which means that peer comparisons form an important part of the ‘choice architecture’. That can lead us down the wrong path. We also tend to be more comfortable with the status quo and resistant to change.

Science tells us that, for a number of reasons, it is often the case that even mature, well informed ,well educated adults can be poor decision makers and make the wrong choices ie those which  set  against an objective benchmark  are against  their interests. Impetuous  Youth of course can make very poor long- term decisions. Indeed, Behavioural barriers may be preventing some students from improving their long term welfare.  So, the comparatively new discipline of Behavioural Economics regularly unleashes   unsettling counter –intuitive insights about how our brains work and how we make decisions.

A new report says that we tend to have frequent difficulty in making short and long-run trade-offs. Higher cognitive areas like the prefrontal cortex, which underlie executive functions such as planning, working memory and self- control, take longer to mature and improve  than parts of  the  brain that  correspond to motor and sensory processing.

Education represents a relatively new avenue which is undeveloped for behavioural economics, so its one that holds many opportunities and much potential. (watch this space !)

For example, apparently, executive brain function, which helps focus on the future and control impulses, does not mature fully until an individual is in their  mid-twenties, children and adolescents are even more susceptible than adults to whats termed  “behavioural barriers” which may lead them to miss out on education opportunities.

The Researchers  categorize these barriers into four categories: 1) some students focus too much on the present, 2) some rely too much on routine, 3) some students focus too much on negative identities, and 4) mistakes are more likely with many options or with little information.

The immaturity of a child’s brain of course also provides opportunities. Students may be more responsive to interventions that target behavioural barriers.

This new research suggest that interventions shaped by behavioural theory are likely to be cost-effective and easy to implement, while delivering significant results. According to researchers, ‘They are exciting, testable and tenable.’

Behavioral Economics of Education: Progress and Possibilities- Adam M. Lavecchia University of Toronto;Heidi Liu Harvard University Philip Oreopoulos ,University of Toronto, NBER, CIFAR and IZA

Discussion Paper No. 8853 February 2015

http://ftp.iza.org/dp8853.pdf

SLOW DOWN YOU MOVE TOO FAST-THE SLOW EDUCATION MOVEMENT

We should do things as well as possible, rather than as fast as possible

 A Drive for more depth in learning  

The Slow Education initiative is inspired by Canadian journalist Carl Honore’s book ‘In Praise of Slow’.

Honore,  examined the whole ‘Slow’ movement for his book, explaining that pressure to fit a fixed model stifles the creativity of our children.

“They also don’t learn to look inside themselves to work out who they are because they are so busy trying to be what we want them to be,” he says.

‘In Praise of Slowness’,  explored how the Slow philosophy might be applied in every field of human endeavor and coined the phrase “Slow Movement”.

Honoré describes the Slow Movement thus:

“It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savouring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.”

Honore adds  that Slow is about how you personally approach every moment of the day: do you approach it in a fast spirit – ‘How can I do this as quickly as possible?’ – or in the spirit of, ‘How can I do this as well as possible, how much time and attention does this task require from me?

Academic and former teacher, Professor Maurice Holt, sums up the idea in his  paper “Slow Schools mean deep learning”:

“Standards- driven education isn’t very different from a fast-food outlet, where packages of test-shaped knowledge are swallowed, but never properly digested.

“The movement for Slow Schools … seeks to promote learning in depth, rather than a debased curriculum based on goals, inspections and unreliable standards.”

Honore says ‘It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed.’ He continues ‘ Today we are addicted to speed, to cramming more and more into every minute. Every moment of the day feels like a race against the clock, a dash to a finish line that we never seem to reach. This roadrunner culture is taking a toll on everything from our health, diet and work to our communities, relationships and the environment. That is why the Slow Movement is taking off.’

Honore believes that people are now  waking up to the folly of living in fast-forward and discovering that by slowing down judiciously they do everything better and  indeed enjoy everything more,

Honore says ‘I think children need slowness even more than adults do. It’s in those moments of quiet, of unstructured time, of boredom even, that kids learn how to look into themselves, how to think and be creative, how to socialize. We are doing a great disservice to our children by pushing them so hard to learn things earlier and earlier and by keeping them so busy. They need time and space to slow down, to play, to be children. Across the world, parents, politicians, adults in general are so anxious about children nowadays that we have become too interventionist and too impatient; we don’t allow them enough freedom. My wife and I give our children lots of time to play on their own. We resist the temptation to enrol them in too many extracurricular activities. We limit the time they spend sitting in front of computer screens and using technology, so that they run around outdoors and invent their own play. We also don’t try to push them to learn academic things before they are ready. And so far the results have been good. I hope it continues!

Joe Harrison an adherent to the Slow Education movement here writes:

‘The creative process is at the very heart of Slow Education. Indeed it is an idea of creativity that, as with the likes of Sir Ken Robinson, goes far beyond its traditional home in ‘the arts’ to become “the process of having original ideas that have value”. A Slow School understands this process and supports its learners (pupils and staff) in it. The learner has a mindset which supports creativity and allows time for deep learning.’

Mike Grenier, a co-founder of Slow Education, has been teaching English at Eton College for 21 years. He says (Guardian 8 March) ‘I’m concerned about how much uncertainty is being introduced into our education system. We’re creating all these new versions of schooling, such as academies and university technical colleges, and at the same time having a complete review of GCSEs and A-levels, and changing the curriculum. The intensity of change means that the wheels are turning faster and faster. It’s a bit like running an engine with the handbrake on – at some point cogs and wheels will fly off. The problem is that some of those cogs and wheels are children. It’s left so many people, students and staff feeling disorientated and unsure about the purpose of it all.’

Grenier says that the American thinker W Edwards Deming, informs the movements  ideas. He talked about the dangers of doing things in the rear view mirror. A lot of exams look at the past, and then you move on to the next thing. He believed in a system of continuous improvement and spoke powerfully about how he used to mark students’ work to find out where he’d gone wrong, rather than the problems they were having.

So what does this mean for schools?

Professor  Holt writes ‘Instead of breaking the curriculum down into measurable, bite-sized chunks, we should encourage students to consider a situation or a problem, look at it from various angles, and ask questions that need answering. Students might work in groups, and teachers might work in teams: instead of classroom boxes, we need flexible spaces, and ways of linking subjects that enrich learning.’

Holt concludes, ’ The movement for slow schools and slow education has faith in the capacities of teachers and heads, and seeks to promote learning in depth, rather than a debased curriculum based on goals, inspections and unreliable standards. We deplore the excessive use of crude tests, currently undermining English and American education: we take comfort from the remarkable success of Finland. And we recognise, above all, the vital importance of the interaction between teacher and student. We affirm, with Michael Oakeshott, that teaching must be seen “not as passing on something to be received … but as setting on foot the cultivation of a mind.” The quality of the engagement between teacher and learner is supreme, and it lies at the heart of the slow school.’

Oakeshott, the liberal philosopher, had quite a lot to say on education and his central proposition was  that education is not just about acquiring knowledge and ‘knowing’,  its about acquiring understanding and , importantly ,inculcating a desire to understand in young people ,Central to this is the relationship between the teacher and student, which is what the Slow Education movement seems to be about. Give young people time to understand. Learning is the comprehensive engagement in which we come to know ourselves and the world around us.

The message here is- Don’t simply get pupils to regurgitate facts, primarily testing their short term memories, which is what the system incentivises now. This is too superficial and does not allow in depth learning and understanding.  Allow students time to reflect, to analyse   and to interact with others  drilling down into information  finding their own answers and cultivating a greater understanding of the world around them.

The main hub of activity for the Slow Education movement, as the Guardian pointed out this week, has been at Matthew Moss high school in Rochdale and at St Silas CofE primary school in Blackburn.’ At Matthew Moss three lessons a week have been freed up in years 7 and 8 to give students time to develop projects they are really interested in. At the end, students have a viva examination with an adult to explore their knowledge and understanding. The school has also developed a scheme called D6. On Saturday mornings younger students volunteer to attend classes given by older students. The topics they teach aren’t connected to the exam syllabus, they are just of personal interest to the student teacher.’

However, the movement is not without its critics.

Sir Chris Woodhead, a former chief inspector of schools, told the Sunday Times  that   he was worried that the movement’s turn towards project-based learning, in particular, harks back to the 1970s, when such an approach left children with gaping holes in their factual knowledge.

He agrees “it takes a lifetime to begin to understand anything, like a Shakespeare play, which really matters”.

However, he adds: “There are dangers to this movement, too. Some of the people associated with it are, wholly predictably, using it to attack everything the UK government has been trying for the last quarter of a century to do to raise standards. So our curriculum is said to be ‘debased’ and the importance of creativity is trumpeted over the importance of submitting oneself to a body of external knowledge.

“Yes, let’s give children the time to learn in a meaningful and personal way, but let’s avoid the danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

 

Slow Education Web Site

http://sloweducation.co.uk/

Professor Maurice Holt

http://sloweducation.co.uk/2013/06/10/slow-schools-mean-deep-learning-by-professor-maurice-holt-2/

 

The Guardian -8 March 2015

 

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/mar/08/uk-education-mimics-the-worst-aspects-of-a-mcdonalds-production-line

 

In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed Paperback – 4 Aug 2005 by Carl Honore (Author)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/In-Praise-Slow-Worldwide-Challenging/dp/0752864149

KNOWLEDGE MOBILIZATION AND MANAGEMENT

The education research agenda and how to progress it  will still be there after the May election.

In 2009 the OECD talked of the need for  ‘  knowledge rich  evidence based  education systems in which school leaders and teachers  act as a professional community with the authority to act, the necessary authority to do so wisely and the access to support systems  to assist them in implementing change’..

Improving the professional knowledge base of teachers and the  efficient management of knowledge   is closely associated with the drive to raise the quality of teachers and teaching in the classroom.  It also impacts on professional development. The task at hand is to  identify what works best in practice, manage this information, ensuring that it is understood and gets to the chalk face in a form that is usable.

There is clearly  a need to do more to engage school leaders with research evidence. This  may imply a need for training in research literacy and in ensuring that the leadership teams, including governors,  engage more  constructively  with research. Combining  good evidence on practice  with professional judgement seems to be the way forward. We must also be aware that there is poor data and evidence out there, that has been used to inform poor practice.The good has got be separated from the dross.

The system is just beginning to realise that teachers themselves can identify where research is most needed and indeed undertake research themselves   engaging with research , reflecting on how best they can use it,  seeing it more as an opportunity than some form of threat (some do)- to  improve their classroom  practice and pupil outcomes. This has considerable potential as has been noted by Tom Bennett and others through the ResearchEd  programme .

But education has always had a problem with dissemination of good  research and what is called knowledge mobilization and knowledge management, and with securing the widespread adoption of  the most effective practices. Hence all the  recent work being done to dispel myths, ie those common  practices, that have no basis in evidence.

Professor Chris Husbands of the Institute of Education  believes that Teaching schools could make a significant contribution to improved knowledge mobilization and innovation mainstreaming in education. He has a point.

But, so too could other agencies, whether for profit or not for profit. School networks and chains could clearly have an important role in identifying, managing and disseminating good  research, but probably need incentives to do this. These are the intermediaries, or  whats termed ‘  third party knowledge mobilization organisations’As ever , collaboration between schools, groups of schools  and within schools is  important to advance this agenda.

Husbands writes ‘ Work on knowledge mobilization has often stressed the importance of agencies and organizations which can play an explicitly knowledge mobilization role, and who are structured to secure the results of such a role. In medicine, that role is clearly located in the research community. Teaching hospitals play a critical role in anchoring the research community in practice-based institutions – though the practical divide between practitioners and researchers is often greater than is sometimes presented. It is not clear that the task of knowledge mobilization can be discharged solely by practitioners. The experience of highly devolved and autonomous schools systems is that knowledge mobilization can be more, rather than less, difficult in devolved structures. Teaching schools – rightly – had to identify strategic partners, but at the moment we know relatively little about how those partnerships are working out.’

In practice ,we know a good deal about effective knowledge mobilization strategies.  We have Professor Carol Campbell to thank for this. She spells this out clearly in  straightforward stages  –

Knowledge Generation

New Research, New Knowledge

Knowledge Mobilisation

Communication, Collaboration to spread knowledge etc

Knowledge Contextualisation

Adapting knowledge to context and need

Knowledge Application

Applying it to practice to improve outcomes

Knowledge Integration

Cumulative and sustained integration of information though research policy connections to inform discourse, attitudes etc

So, we need to find  and generate useful knowledge, understand it, because it is rarely straightforward, share it, use it effectively and integrate it so it is sustained  throughout the system and over time (Campbell, 2011; Campbell and Levin, 2009).

This will be one of the big challenges post May. Bottom up ,tends to be better than top down, which is why the work of ResearchEd is so useful. The government’s role should be to help create an enabling environment by providing incentives. What is not needed is top down prescription and one approved source of orthodoxy.   But there is also a role for intermediary bodies to help manage and disseminate knowledge across the system, in a proactive way. Simply relying on busy teachers  to search out good research for themselves, is unrealistic and  will not work.

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/research/CarolCampbell2011.pdf

CAREERS GUIDANCE IN SCHOOLS-STUART CALLS FOR INCENTIVES

Too few schools providing independent advice and guidance

There was an important debate this week in Westminster Hall (25 February) on Careers Advice and Guidance.

There was general agreement that the schools based system is not working, and although there is some evidence of good practice, the system is  too patchy and fragmented. Graham Stuart, Chair of the Select Committee, said “ The problem is that there are insufficient incentives for schools to take the matter seriously. That is why 80% of them do not. It is simple: they do not have to take it seriously. No one loses their job and no one gets fired or publicly humiliated for failing to do it properly, but they do if five good GCSEs are not achieved. We therefore have to change the accountability regime and have a high-stakes environment in which someone very easily gets publicly humiliated or sacked. That is the central problem.” .. and “schools should at least be made to publish their careers plan, so that parents and employers can have a look at it. Ofsted could check in advance.”

Nick Boles, the Minister, said there has never been a golden age of careers guidance and there certainly wasn’t one under the last government .He  said  that  there was  now “ statutory guidance requiring schools to provide independent advice and guidance.” Crucially, adding “ We certainly recognise that too few schools are doing so”

On the new  independent Careers company Boles said “ The point of the careers company, under Christine Hodgson, is to create a structure whereby every school has somebody it can ask to help it through this forest and identify the resources and the providers who will help provide a much better range of experiences and inspiration to young people. It will focus initially on mapping what is out there, because people have to know that before they can start offering guidance. It will then focus on Lord Young’s excellent idea, in his report to the Prime Minister, of appointing an enterprise adviser. That person will be a current or recently retired local executive from the public or private sector, who will be attached to a school and whose role will be to help it identify local businesses and employers that can come in to the school and provide work experience, and  resources relating to programmes relevant for the school. A school will identify that local enterprise adviser with the help of their local economic partnership.”

“It will have a small pot of money of about £5 million—a small part of the £20 million—from which it will be able to back new ideas for new kinds of experience and advice and guidance. That will act more as a sort of seed fund or a venture fund. It will also work more long-term on Lord Young’s other idea, which is for an enterprise passport that would probably be an online record of all of the non-formal educational achievements of a young person—all the volunteering and holiday jobs they have done, all the clubs they have joined and all their other extracurricular achievements at school—so that employers have an objective record of the full range of a young person’s contribution to their community when judging their fitness for school.”

The fact that the government has decided to make available £20m to establish a new company to help broker careers guidance and accepts that too few schools are providing independent advice and guidance,  is an implicit admission that its policies in this area are  simply not working . Boles has been more honest than  most in this respect. The writing was on the wall when Ministers realised they had to strengthen the initial  statutory guidance, and seem to now accept that you cant simply leave it up to schools, without strong accountability measures.

If you fail to ensure that young people have easy access  to high quality advice at crucial times in their lives, you are not going to improve social mobility, nor are you going to ease access for disadvantaged pupils to Higher Education  Institutions,    nor are  you going to fill vital skills gaps, an essential  truth that escapes  too many  Ministers and officials .

Worth reading this debate in full

 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150225/halltext/150225h0001.htm#15022579000001

 

Also see Teach First Report-March 2015

Teach First says:

‘We support the recommendation of the House of Commons Education Committee (2013) for the statutory duty for all schools to publish a plan for whole school careers and employability education and that this should be part of a school improvement plan. This will allow greater transparency over schools’ career and employability offer. A published plan can strengthen Ofsted’s ability to assess this provision in short inspections.

Careers education in the classroom- The role of teachers in making young people work ready

http://www.teachfirst.org.uk/sites/default/files/Careers-in-the-classroom-report.pdf