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





  1. Thank heaven for common sense – its really encouraging to read your posts and critical analysis on this subject. The government need to review their impoverished attitudes to careers guidance as soon as possible. There can clearly be no commitment to social mobility without it. Maybe their much derided work programme for young people could benefit from targeted guidance from these kind of dedicated professionals as well. However, this would require motivated lateral thinking of the kind that Michael Cove, John Hayes and their ilk seem to be not well endowed with!

    One of my close family has a Hons degree in Psychology, a Masters in Occupational Psychology(with A and B registration in personality testing) plus a recent Post-Graduate qualification in Careers Guidance. She has also worked in Commerce, The Travel Industry, Legal Administration and is widely travelled. Following the birth of her first child, she was totally unable to get a job, the Careers Service having been decimated by the Coalition. For anything else she was seen as over-qualified. Next year when her second child starts nursery, I just hope that some changes will have occurred. I suspect I am being over-optimistic!

    • Thanks.Report after report tells us how important good Careers advice is..the message is consistent across the board, yet politicians have a blind spot about it. and use the fact that some advice has been poor and patchy in the past as an excuse for not doing anything about it. If its as important as the evidence suggests it should have their undivided attention and be prioritised and resourced accordingly…

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