Government concession in Lords for disadvantaged pupils and those with SEN


Lord Hill conceded in Lords on 24 October on the need for schools to give face to face  careers guidance to disadvantaged pupils .The Education  Bill says that schools will be placed under a statutory duty from September 2012 to secure independent, impartial careers guidance for their pupils. But it is left up to schools to decide what type of advice they offer their pupils ie by phone,web portal or face to face. However Lord Hill said in the Lords on 24 October that ‘ We will place a clear expectation on schools that they should secure face-to-face careers guidance where it is the most suitable support, in particular for disadvantaged children and those who have special needs or are learners with learning difficulties and disabilities. These messages in the guidance will be further strengthened by the sharing of effective practice and evidence about what works’.  Lord Hill in effect accepted the case made by  Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch in support of  face to face advice although falling short of  the  guarantees she wanted .  Lady Jones fundamentally disagreed with the government’s view that it is sufficient to offer careers guidance by phone or online to the vast majority of pupils .Lord Hill said ‘Pupils can benefit enormously from support offered in person that raises their aspirations and guides them on to a successful path. This is particularly true of those young people who are disadvantaged and may not have access to a social network of people in a range of jobs, who come from a background of intergenerational unemployment, as has been mentioned, or who have special needs or are learners with learning difficulties or disabilities. Given that, I am also happy to commit to highlighting this issue in statutory guidance and making it clear to schools that young people have much to gain from a face-to-face exploration of their skills, abilities and interests, which can help them think through the learning and career options available to them.’.


Lord Hill wants to ‘ensure that the statutory guidance (ie must do) highlights to schools how they can be confident that the external support they are buying in is of the desired quality. The guidance will contain a clear description of the quality standard for careers guidance for schools in commissioning independent advice and support for their pupils.’  Lord Hill added ‘There is a clear case for independent careers guidance for 16 to 18 year-olds in schools and the further education sector, particularly as we move towards the raising of the participation age. We have committed to consulting on extending the age range upwards. We can make that change through secondary legislation once the consultation is complete.’ The consultation will be complete in time to extend the age range of the duty by regulations from September 2012.

Hansard;24 October-Column 582


Note 1. The Coalition governments Advocate for Access to Higher Education, Simon Hughes MP, has said “I am very clear not only that there should be a careers service available for every secondary school child, but that it should include a personalised service. It is not  enough that everyone should have access to a telephone service or an online  service or be given a book. I know that the Minister understands that point and is  sympathetic to it.”


Note2  Hayes said in response to a written PQ on 26 October-‘ We must retain a focus on outcomes that show the extent to which young people are achieving and progressing to higher levels of education or training, or into employment, rather than on specific inputs such as the amount or type of careers guidance. ‘  Good inputs=good outputs. How long will it take officials and Ministers to realise that they are not achieving the outcomes they want because pupils are not being given access to professional independent face to face advice from 13 onwards? Improving social mobility is, in the Prime Minsters view, the principal goal of the Government’s social policy.  How will this be advanced if  young people do not have timely and  easy access to professional advice on qualifications and routes of progression into higher education training and employment?