Quality assurance and professional standards key

Schools will need to demonstrate that they provide a high quality and impartial service.

It seems that the constructive engagement of some of the best professionals in the IAG sector with officials at  the DFE, along with a change of Secretary of State, has served to shift the policy  ground on careers guidance in schools. It may have some way to go but progress is being made.  Michael Gove famously instructed his Permanent Secretary to ensure that officials stop sending him and his advisers submissions on the urgent need to  reform IAG in schools. Officials were reassigned away from careers guidance. It was assuredly  not a policy priority.  Nicky Morgan, who replaced Gove,   was advised   by the Select Committee Chair, Graham Stuart, to take another close look at Careers guidance in schools ,which  by common consent  is rated as patchy and fragmented . She appears to have heeded his advice, although there is still some way to go .Ministers still seem to  place rather too much faith in the idea that all that is really needed is for employers to engage more  directly with schools and for work experience to improve . This is an important part of the equation, but it is only part of it.  Good, face to face advice from a qualified, independent professional will always be an essential element of  the IAG offer , and is  particularly important  for the most disadvantaged.

It is  much too  early  to say whether the new independent  careers and enterprise company  ,established to broker relationships and  to break down barriers , between the key stakeholders will have a transformative effect. It aims, of course,  not just to break down barriers but  to  help schools choose professional advisers.

There has though, clearly  been a  real effort to focus on quality assurance in the new revised statutory guidance, see link below (previous guidance was seen as too weak in this area).

Schools will not be allowed to simply designate a teacher without the necessary recognised professional qualifications to provide careers advice and guidance. Here below an extract:

Evaluation and monitoring of advice and guidance

Quality assurance and feedback

  1. In developing careers provision for pupils, there are currently three aspects of quality assurance that schools should take into consideration:
  • The quality of the school careers programme. The Government recommends that all schools should work towards a quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance as an effective means of carrying out a self-review and evaluation of the school’s programme. The national validation, the Quality in Careers Standard, will assist schools to determine an appropriate quality award to pursue. There are currently twelve quality awards that are recognised as meeting the Quality in Careers Standard.
  • The quality of independent careers providers.The recognised national quality standard for information, advice and guidance (IAG) services is the matrix Standard. To achieve the Standard, organisations will need to demonstrate that they provide a high quality and impartial service. Schools can access an online register of organisations accredited to the matrix Standard.
  • The quality of careers professionals working with the school. The Career Development Institute has developed a set of professional standards for careers advisers, a register of advisers holding postgraduate qualifications and guidelines on how advisers can develop their own skills and gain higher qualifications. The main qualifications for careers professionals are the Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG) (which replaced the earlier Diploma in Careers Guidance) and the Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development. Schools can view a register of careers professionals or search for a career development professional who can deliver a particular service or activity.


Careers England, the Quality in Careers Consortium and the CDI deserve some credit for their persistence in seeking to secure these important changes. And in ensuring that they developed a clear set of professional standards.

A national data base will operate from 15 October making available a full range of post-16 options and opportunities.


Ps David Harbourne ,who heads research at the Edge Foundation, which has been critical of the quality and scope of careers advice in schools,  noted that the new guidance rather too often says “should” rather than “must”


Careers guidance and inspiration in schools

Statutory guidance for governing bodies, school leaders and school staff- March 2015



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