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.