Gerard Liston, an enterprise and employability consultant, told Schools Week, that he had “real concerns” about a “lack of progress and lack of sustainability” at the CEC, and said its funding – £70 million over this parliament – would be better spent on training teachers to deliver guidance in classrooms.
“There is a real limit to what can be achieved in a school through one day a month with a volunteer from business,” he said, adding that he was disappointed with the “lack of results and the superficial nature” of projects from CEC so far.’
There are fears that the CEC, is front loaded, meaning its heavy on marketing itself but light on delivery. Within a year of its establishment the then Minister Sam Gyimah talked of significant achievements omitting to mention what they were. Inputs are clear outputs less so. There is nothing on the CEC web site about the impact it is having on the guidance offered to young people. There is also a perception developing that it is almost entirely focused on employer engagement and ‘enterprise’ rather than in ensuring that pupils have easy access to professional independent guidance, including face to face guidance which evidence tells us benefits the most disadvantaged more than anyone else . Nor does it seem to understand what Careers ‘education’ means. Its beginning to look like an expanding Quango, with as much being spent on its 25 staff , (at least three are on six figure salaries) its contractors and central London rent, as is going in to ensuring that the quality of professional guidance is raised throughout the system, that guidance is no longer a lottery and that the end user, the pupil , confronted with hard and complex choices, benefits directly. Its most recent research confirms what we already knew, that with so much information out there pupils find it all rather bewildering, with information overload- and don’t know where to start. Which is precisely why many of them, indeed most, would benefit from a meaningful, face to face chat with a guidance professional. Very few get this though. Instead employers are being turned into proxy guidance specialists, but without the necessary qualifications, information and knowledge to offer real support, or guidance.
Meanwhile, pupils making crucial early choices about what routes and qualifications to take are too often not able to make informed choices. Putting an employer or Enterprise Adviser into a school does nothing to address this. No surprise then that social mobility remains stagnant. As Dr Deirdre Hughes , a leading Guidance expert, has said “It’s great that they want to be known as an evidence-based organisation .But we don’t need to have a quango producing what’s there already. What we need is to get independent, impartial careers advice back into communities” Hughes would like to see the CEC funding making a difference at grassroots level. Wouldn’t we all.
So rather than paying lip service to the Gatsby benchmarks and cherry picking, CEC should revisit Number 8 ,on Personal Guidance. It says:
‘Every student should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a career 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 students but should be timed to meet their individual needs.’ Why has the CEC done so little to make this happen?
And why is it paying out so much taxpayers money to its senior members of staff , with such limited accountability, and without addressing the most fundamental challenge- to transform the quality, accessibility and scope of professional guidance available to our young people .
See Schools Week Article