Report highly critical of current careers guidance in schools

Wants responsibility to remain with schools  but  to extend the remit of the National Careers Service

Lord Sainsbury writes at the beginning of  the comprehensive and well structured  report’ Good Career Guidance’, for the Gatsby Foundation ,released this week:

‘Very few people would disagree that good career guidance is critical if young people are to raise their aspirations and capitalise on the opportunities available to them. Yet equally few people would say that all is well with the current system of career guidance in this country. It is  especially regrettable therefore that the current  situation, in which so many young people are  kept in the dark about the full range of options  open to them, has been allowed to persist  for so many years’

The report says that ‘Career guidance in English schools is often criticised as being inadequate and patchy, most recently by Ofsted in their September 2013 report. Our study set out to find out what career guidance in England would be like  were it good.

The researchers visited six countries (the Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, Finland, Canada and Ireland) where  both career guidance and educational  results are considered to be good.

They also visited  schools and talked to teachers, pupils and ministry officials-‘  We visited five independent schools in England and spoke to  school leaders, careers specialists  and pupils. They also  studied the available literature on career guidance in  English state schools’

They made a judgement on what ‘good’ looks like. These judgements are in  the form of eight benchmarks,  identifying different dimensions  of good career guidance ( in section 3).

The Foundation asked Pricewaterhousecoopers (pwc) to assess the cost of the benchmarks . ‘This meant we could identify the costs of implementing the benchmarks in each school and across England.’  Pwc also assessed the economic benefits of better career guidance.

The report says that ‘ there is no single magic bullet  in Career guidance. It is about doing a number of things- identified in our benchmarks-consistently well ‘.


The eight benchmarks are:

A stable Careers programme

Every school and college should have  an embedded programme of career  education and guidance that is known  and understood by pupils, parents,  teachers and employers.


Learning from Career and Labour Market Information

Every pupil, and their parents, should have access to good quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities.  They will need the support of an informed adviser to make best use of available information


Addressing the Need of each pupil

Pupils have different career guidance needs at different stages.  Opportunities for advice and support need to be tailored to the needs of each pupil. A school’s careers programme should embed equality and diversity considerations throughout



Linking Curriculum Learning to Careers

All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. STEM subject teachers should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths


Encounters with Employers and Employees

Every pupil should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through a range of enrichment activities including visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes.


Experience of Workplaces

Every pupil should have first-hand experiences* of the workplace through  work visits, work shadowing and/or  work experience to help their  exploration of career opportunities,  and expand their networks


Encounters with Further and Higher Education

All pupils should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes both academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace


Personal Guidance

Every pupil should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a careers adviser, who could be internal (a member of school staff) or external, provided they are trained to an appropriate level. These should be available whenever significant study or career choices are being made.  They should be expected for all pupils but should be timed  to meet their individual need


PWC gives a detailed breakdown of possible costs. PWC estimates, for example, that  if the core team responsible for career guidance in each  school  develop and manage the implementation of  a stable, structured career guidance programme, with  subject matter input from class-based teachers, the  career adviser(s) and IT support, this  would cost £18,525 in the First Year  and £9,564 thereafter. The Total cost of achieving all the benchmarks in the First Year is estimated at £ £53,637 and from the second year onwards £44,676. So the total the cost of providing such services across schools would be £207 million in the first year and £173 million a year thereafter, or just under £45,000 per secondary school in England.

The report states:


‘The government has given schools the responsibility for determining their career guidance and we do not recommend reversing this policy. Schools are well placed to decide their own needs.  But we believe schools need:

– The right incentives to prioritise career guidance;

– The right central and local support;

– Better access to employers where they do not have this already.


It adds:

‘In the end it is for headteachers and governors to  take the lead in prioritising career guidance more  highly. By reaching these benchmarks they will put in  place a career guidance system that measures up to  the best we have seen, and they will help set up their  pupils not only for the rest of their education but for  the rest of their lives.’


The report offers ten recommendations, linked to the benchmarks (above) :


Recommendation 4, for example, says that the remit of the National Careers Service should be extended   to give it unequivocal responsibilities towards schools. It should:

– Significantly expand its work with schools, young people and parents;

– Develop and extend its online services targeted at schools, young  people and their parents, and  support training in their use;

– Provide a channel for live labour market information from the  ‘LMI for All’ data source;

– Disseminate good practice in career guidance to schools;

– Collaborate with employers organisations to broker employer encounters with schools;

– Support schools in creating their Careers Plan.

To make it more responsive to employers, the NCS should be reconstituted as an independent agency with its own board on which employers  are strongly represented, alongside  schools and colleges’.


Recommendation 10 says that ‘The government’s guidance for schools  should be amended to make it clear  that personal guidance can be provided  by both internal and external advisers.  Advisers can be a member of school staff, provided they are trained to an appropriate level to give advice that is in the best interests of the pupil.’


Good Career Guidance-the Gatsby Foundation-April 2014-Led by Sir John Holman



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s