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
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.
‘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