SHIFT IN GOVERNMENT POLICY ON CAREERS GUIDANCE IN SCHOOLS

Careers advice in schools

Signs of a shift in Government policy

Comment

Minister John Hayes has provided assurances to Careers Advice and Guidance professionals that statutory guidance on careers advice in schools will make it clear that schools have a duty to provide access to independent professional guidance outside the school. So schools wont be able simply to rely on an in-house teacher to give careers guidance to pupils. In a statement, released by Careers England, this month the Minister said:

“”The new statutory guidance to schools on Section 29 of the Education Act 2011 will  underline the new legal duty on schools to secure independent and impartial careers advice  and guidance. It will not be sufficient for schools to employ their own careers professional, good though they may be, and then rely on signposting to a website, excellent as that may be.  Young people benefit from face-to-face careers guidance. As Lord Hill said in the House of Lords during the passage of the Education Bill, ‘Pupils can benefit enormously from support offered in person that raises their aspirations and leads them onto a successful path.'”

So ,Statutory Guidance ,providing chapter and verse on this thorny issue,  will be published soon .It marks  a  shift in policy . The original Government position was  that this was  a matter best left to schools who should be given autonomy to decide how best to deliver advice and guidance to their pupils ie via a web portal, by phone or face to face.  Simon Hughes MP and others argued that high quality independent, face to face, professional advice is hugely important  and  particularly so  for the most disadvantaged pupils, many of whom have either not been getting good , timely advice in schools  or  have been getting no advice at all, which damages their life opportunities, and undermines, overall , the   governments social  mobility agenda. So, although it will, in theory, be left up to schools, where appropriate, they will be ‘encouraged’ to provide access to independent face to face advice. This corresponds with efforts to raise the quality of professional advice on offer in the guidance sector.

Minister David Willetts said, in reply to an oral PQ on careers guidance 15 March, “The Department for Education will publish statutory guidance for schools very soon, and it will make it clear that schools cannot discharge their duty (in respect of careers guidance) simply by relying on in-house support or by signposting to a website.”

But there is a problem. The  prevarication  and delays, including the failure to issue guidance as expected  in January  means that  schools have been setting budgets without any guidance costs being  taken into account.

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