Careers guidance in schools

Careers guidance in schools

Since September 2013, local authority maintained schools have been under a duty to provide impartial careers guidance to pupils from Years 8 to 13 (ages 12-18).

The Department for Education (DfE) has published statutory guidance (most recently updated in March 2015) for maintained schools on their duty to provide careers guidance.

The statutory duty requires governing bodies to ensure that all registered pupils at the school are provided with independent careers guidance from Year 8 (12-13 year olds) to Year 13 (17-18 year olds).

The governing body must ensure that the independent careers guidance provided:

  • is presented in an impartial manner
  • includes information on the range of education or training options – including apprenticeships and other vocational pathways
  • is guidance that the person giving it considers will promote the best interests of the pupils to whom it is given.

In line with the Government's policy on school autonomy, there is no ring fenced funding for schools to provide careers guidance.

Many academies and free schools are subject to the duties relating to careers guidance through their funding agreements, including those which opened from September 2012 onwards, and those which have moved to an updated funding agreement. Academies without the requirement are encouraged to follow the guidance as a statement of good practice.There is also separate non-statutory 'good practice' DfE guidance on this issue.

Evidence suggests that high quality targeted professional guidance – including face to face guidance – supports social mobility; reduces the number of young people not in education training or employment; helps promote social inclusion; improves productivity; and helps fill skills gaps.

A House of Commons sub committee on Education, Skills and the Economy, said on 1 November 2016 that the standard of provision in schools is still too often "patchy and inadequate". The committee lamented the lack of progress and the lack of an effective government response to previous critical reports, including its own, echoing the conclusions of an Ofsted report on Careers Guidance in 2013 entitled Going in the Right Direction?and also of a 2013 Education Select Committee report Careers guidance for young people: The impact of the new duty on schools. The latter stated: ' too many schools lack the skills, incentives or capacity to fulfil the duty put upon them without a number of changes being made.'

At the time, Ofsted found 'very few of the schools visited knew how to provide a service effectively or had the skills and expertise needed to provide a comprehensive service. Few schools had bought in adequate service from external sources.'

The Careers and Enterprise Company

The Government acknowledges weaknesses and inconsistency in provision. In response, in 2014, the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) was set up and a published Careers Strategy was promised. The core purpose of the CEC is to broker relationships between employers on the one hand, and schools and colleges on the other, in order to ensure that young people aged 12-18 get the inspiration and guidance they need for success in working life. CEC will hold a distinctive voice and position as the leading, umbrella body with an overview of activity on careers, inspiration, enterprise and employability work – driving better quality and coverage. The company has a particular focus on employer engagement. Volunteer Enterprise Advisers, drawn from employers, will be encouraged to work directly with the leadership of individual schools and colleges.

The National Careers Service

The National Careers Service (NCS), launched in April 2012, offers information and professional advice about education, training and work to adults and young people aged 13 years and over. Pupils and their parents can access support via a website, helpline and web chat or a National Contact Centre (0800 100 900). A mobile website and app are also available. To support customers with pay-as you-go mobiles and no access to a landline, there is a facility to book a free call-back through the website.

The NCS aims to:

  • help people with careers decisions and planning
  • support people in reviewing their skills and abilities – and in developing new goals
  • motivate people to implement their plan of action
  • enable people to make the best use of high quality career related tools.

In December 2014, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published its third National Careers Service Satisfaction and Progression Surveys Annual Report.This includes the following overview of customer satisfaction with the service:

'Schools can choose to commission additional support from contractors engaged in delivering the National Careers Service. The National Careers Service has expanded its offer to schools and colleges. It brokers relationships with and between schools, colleges, local communities and employers, working with Local Enterprise Partnerships and local Jobcentre Plus where appropriate, to help young people benefit from inspiring first-hand experience of the world of work, and opportunities available in the local and national labour market'.

The fieldwork evidence preceding the fourth annual report – covering April 2014 to April 2015 – was published on 23rd May 2016

The Gatsby Report: Good Career Guidance

The Gatsby Foundation commissioned Professor Sir John Holman to research what pragmatic actions could improve career guidance in secondary schools, with a view to piloting the recommendations with schools.The report was published in May 2014 and examined what 'good career guidance' looked like. It recommended eight benchmarks for good practice as follows:

  1. A stable careers programme.
  2. Learning from career and labour market information.
  3. Addressing the needs of each pupil.
  4. Linking curriculum learning to careers.
  5. Encounters with employers and employees.
  6. Experiences of workplaces.
  7. Encounters with further and higher education.
  8. Personal guidance.

The CEC, in partnership with The Gatsby Foundation, recently launched Compass, a new, free online tool for schools to evaluate and monitor improvements in their careers education against these eight nationally recognised benchmarks.

The tool is supported by Teach First, the National Association of Head Teachers, the Association of School and College Leaders, and the Career Development Institute.

It gives schools an immediate readout on how they compare to the eight benchmarks, so they can celebrate successes and focus resources on the areas of their careers programmes which need the most development.

One criticism of the CEC is that its work focuses on some, but not all, of the 'Gatsby benchmarks', leading to gaps in quality provision.

Ofsted has been giving careers guidance a higher priority in school inspections since

September 2013: Inspectors take into account how well a school delivers advice and guidance to all pupils when judging schools' leadership and management.Particular scrutiny is given to the extent to which a school has developed and implemented a strategy for ensuring all pupils in Years 8 to 13 receive effective careers guidance.

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