Fancy being my boss?

At the Bedford College Group we have vacancy for a Manager of Student Well-being & Achievement.

Link to advert here.

This role is (mostly) based in Kettering and will lead a team of Personal Achievement Tutors there but will also lead the Student Services Careers provision across the Group. Currently the Careers Team consists of seven Advisers and a Resource Assistant covering 3 main Bedfordshire campuses plus our specialist sites listed here:

https://www.bedford.ac.uk/our-locations

and our 3 main Northamptonshire sites listed here:

https://www.tresham.ac.uk/about-us/our-campuses/

So it’s a role requiring a wide range of skills and knowledge.

Bedford College Group is one of the largest providers of Further and Higher Education, apprenticeship and part-time training in the region. We have sector beating destination statistics and you can see our CEIAG policy here and our Careers Programme Statement here. If the role is something that interests you, please do consider applying!

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NICEC

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The National Institute for Career Education & Counselling (NICEC) is a learning “Fellowship of people committed to understanding and developing career education and guidance practice and policy in the UK and across the globe” that has been in action since 1975.

I’ve been aware of the group and their work for many years through the NICEC Journal which I read with great interest when it landed in my pigeon-hole (back when you got a hard copy as part of a CDI membership) and have attended numerous workshops at events over the years led by a number of the Fellows.

The network is organised as group of invited Fellows and a membership of individuals interested in career theory and practice who then receive the Journal and are able to attend the networking and evening seminar events put on throughout the year.

An annual conference is also part of the offer with next year’s planned for April 16th 2019 with the theme of “Changing boundaries: career, identity, and self. An international conference on research, practice and policy in career development.

I post as I have been invited to join as a Fellow and feel extremely privileged to take up the offer.

Please do keep an eye out for future NICEC seminars that I will advertise and take a look at the Conference and, if you see something that interests you, sign up! I’ll see you there.

The potential split between College and School Careers Leaders

September will see a change for schools and they “appoint” a Careers Leader as mandated by the Careers Strategy and the Guidance  documents for Schools and Colleges. What structures or staffing models schools will adopt (or just rename) to meet this will vary widely both because the guidance allows them to

careers leaders4

and because the funding squeeze will dictate that they will utilise the staff at their disposal.

For Colleges the guidance is tighter in the recommended structures to follow

careers leaders5

The specificity of requiring a Vice Principal or Director to take on the role does make sense in a College context. They are usually larger organisations both in terms of learners requiring provision and members of staff to work with and sites to cover so most providers will employ a team with a Careers/Employability focus line-managed through their Student Services areas. Combined with the more vocational nature of the teaching & qualification offer (teachers will have their own industry expertise to also offer IAG as part of the main qualification) placing the role at a strategic level puts the onus on the institution to achieve the cross College buy-in sought by the CEC to build a joined up Careers programme rather than a standalone service that does not collaborate throughout the teaching areas. At this scale, this isn’t a one person job so the delivery and the leadership have to be split.

The more options available in the School guidance will lead to many non teaching, non Senior Leaders being assigned the “Careers Leader” or a version of option 1 in the image above. If these roles are rebadged Careers Co-ordinator or Careers Adviser position line-managed by a member of Senior Leadership or the Head Teacher then in these cases the Careers Leader is “Leader” in name only. The strategic oversight and direction of the Careers provision at the school will be lead by the member of staff on the Senior Leadership team line managing the practitioner doing the delivery. It is they who will feed into working groups across the school (curriculum, data, behaviour etc) as they will have more areas of responsibility and line-management duties for the delivery staff in those areas.

The guidance document acknowledges the possible downsides from this option

if senior leadership support is not in place, middle Careers Leaders can struggle to drive school-level change and successfully fulfill the coordination tasks which are part of the role.

and offers two case studies, one of which explains the link from the delivery practitioner to Senior Leadership

Cathy is not a trained teacher and whilst not formally designated as a middle leader, is effectively treated as one. For example, her line manager is the deputy head with whom she meets regularly.

and one that doesn’t

Leyla was responsible for all aspects of careers across the school, including contracts with external careers providers. The post was organised as a middle leader position and Leyla combined her role as Careers Leader with responsibilities for the business department and vocational education.

without explaining the conundrum of proposing the Leader as a “Senior” role whilst then offering examples of structures where it isn’t.

Allowing schools to farm off the “Careers Leader” job title onto staff not at a Senior enough level to inject and sustain a culture change throughout the school is not the hoped for consequence of implementing the Career Leaders policy. Before the Careers Strategy and CEC even existed, some schools had already reacted to the loss of Connexions by employing a non teaching member of staff to deliver their Careers provision. The lever the CEC is trying to pull through the establishment of the Careers Leader role and the accompanying guidance is to place CEIAG further up the food chain and closer to the heart of school decision-making and planning.

Careers Leaders are responsible and accountable for the delivery of their school’s programme of career advice and guidance. It is a senior role that requires the person doing it to have a clear overview of the school’s careers provision

This is what schools choosing Option 2 will  be attempting to achieve but will certainly have to invest in delivery practitioners for their Careers provision to match their ambition whilst also refraining from allocating the title to a Senior Leader with a multitude of other strands to manage. The possible pitfalls of this Option are under-funding and under-staffing.

Multi-Academy Trusts choosing to implement Option 3 would also have to invest in delivery staff to offer provision across sites but should have their own Careers Team line-management structure.

Schools choosing the Option 1 structure will therefore deviate from Colleges and other schools in that they will be attempting to combine the roles of strategy and delivery into one role (that may or may not have Senior Leader support). Those named Leaders in a combined strategy/delivery role without Senior Leader support will find the job the hardest of all while those in a delivery role reporting to a member of SLT are the Leaders in name only described above. The separation of strategy and delivery roles encourages a team model and so is able to push the responsibility of CEIAG higher up the school staffing structure and so closer to the core strategy decisions.

In a previous post on this subject I’ve agreed with the CDI that the naming of a Careers Leader is not something to become too hung up on as

It matters less whether the tasks are undertaken by one member of staff or several, or whether the post is filled by a member of the teaching or non-teaching staff, and more that all the tasks are clearly assigned and that the personnel allocated the role(s) are enabled and supported to fulfil their responsibilities effectively

which still holds true as ultimately it is the outcomes for students which should determine the success of structures. What I am clearer on now though is that there are potential dangers in using a title that means different things in different providers and for financially hard pressed schools, the lure of changing a job title without reflecting on the purpose or remit of that role.

College guidance

https://www.careersandenterprise.co.uk/sites/default/files/uploaded/careers_leaders_in_colleges.pdf

School guidance

https://www.careersandenterprise.co.uk/sites/default/files/uploaded/understanding-careers-leader-role-careers-enterprise.pdf

 

 

 

In 2018/2019, UCAS will charging schools & colleges for a poorer service

One of the regular annual financial outgoings from a school or College’s CEIAG budget are the various fees to access the different services and registrations for the UCAS advisers website. For education institutions there is no choice but UCAS to administer their learner’s Higher Education applications and this is reflected in the zero charge to become a registered UCAS centre. Where the charges from UCAS do start to rack up though is the extra services on offer to track the progress of offers, replies and acceptances your learners make. These are useful tools for tracking the destinations of learners, the offers they received and how your institution compares to competitors but they come with an individual or packaged price tag.

ucas adviser track fees

Paying for a service is that helps write destination reports and offer a better service to learners is perfectly reasonable. What will cause consternation to those paying for those services from the 2019 application cycle will be the fact that the data they rely upon may be incomplete.

Advisers signing into the 2019 portal will be greeted with this:

ucas 2019 sign in

Which, as I asked UCAS,

means that, from now on, any reports offered by UCAS may be based on incomplete data as learners may not have opted in to share their post application progress with their centre.

Of course GDPR is an important piece of legislation that has fundamentally reframed the way that individuals regard the use of their data both on and off the internet and UCAS Corporate cannot ignore it. What is seems they are willing to ignore though is that they will be charging educational institutions a fee for what will be, in effect, a poorer service and product. They are also oblivious to the potential knock on customer service effect this will have on learners as many will be approaching the source of IAG in their school or College post application only for the Adviser to have no method of checking their application unless the applicant signs in to UCAS Apply/Track themselves. I can see this significantly increasing the number of calls to UCAS support lines as school based IAG advisers find themselves unable to offer much post application IAG as they will not be able to see the learner’s application.

Schools & Colleges should be aware of this change and will have to do their best to encourage their learners to opt in to sharing their post application progress but this will only go so far. Many learners complete their form in their own time, away from school or College, so will go through the terms & conditions section without an Adviser present.

For Careers Leaders in Colleges, writing their Higher Education destinations reports next summer will be much more of a headache than previous years.

 

Our Further Education Careers Programme Statement

Our College Group’s Careers Programme Statement has now gone up on the websites across the Group.

You can find it on our two general Further Education College sites:

https://www.tresham.ac.uk/student-support/careers-advice/

https://www.bedford.ac.uk/student-support/careers-advice

Our Sixth Form College site

https://www.bedfordsixthform.ac.uk/student-life/careers-advice

and our dedicated Student Services site

http://www.yourspaceonline.net/jobs-and-careers

Included as a requirement for September 2018 in the Careers Guidance for Further Education & Sixth Form Colleges published in February, this is a fairly straightforward task to fulfill but adds another level of public accountability to offering CEIAG in post 16 providers and would be considered as a fundamental aspect of meeting Gatsby benchmark 1: A Stable Careers Programme.

fe careers guidance

Although, in this age of College Groups and Post 16 mergers, writing a document that is both accessible for the public yet also covers enough detail of all of the aspects of the service is tricky. Our first attempt is below and I’d welcome any feedback or examples from other Post 16 providers ready for when we review it next year.

Live-streaming Employer Engagement activities

The rise of the student focused webinar

There are plenty of aspects of a comprehensive school/college CEIAG offer that can provide a challenge of budget, planning and delivery. Any Careers Leader will encounter difficulties to overcome to meet any of the Gatsby Benchmarks but the one that requires the greatest collaboration, outreach and organisation is perhaps Benchmark 5 “Encounters with Employers and Employees”. Finding willing volunteers from worlds of work that have some enticement for your learners and those who are able to interact positively with young people takes time, finding a suitable time slot around curriculum needs and their own commitments takes patience and negotiation and helping the learners place the information into context takes skill and follow-up. From the employer’s side there is also much to overcome, which of the multitude of organisations do they work with to co-ordinate their education outreach, how can they reach the gatekeeper in the school/college, how can they allocate precious staff time away from their roles for this sort of activity?

It seems that one of the growing solutions to help solve these complications is the use of live streaming employer engagement programmes. A kind of webinar for pupils, these offer lots of potential benefits for both employers and CEIAG practitioners and a more immediate and collective experience than CEIAG Vloggers.

For a number of years The Big Assembly has been a center point of National Apprenticeships Week and offers an interactive broadcast for schools to join. It’s main selling point is the communal aspect of the event, even though a teacher could be showing it on a whiteboard to a single tutor group, that group of students would be made to feel part of a much bigger event with pupils all over the country all joining in at that moment.

The Webinar itself is a series of short vox-pop type interviews of employees across different sectors recounting their apprenticeship journey interspersed with some awful voice over sections in which someone appears to be struggling with a bad quality phone line to announce various prize draw winners. At over 40 minutes, this would test the attention span of both of its target audience and the poor teacher supervising a group watching it. It is still available (last years version above) on the Workpays YouTube channel but as a historic resource it offers no real benefits for practitioners to go back to after the event to reuse.

Another offering is the WOW Show. This is a joint enterprise between the Edge Foundation, City & Guilds, the B&CE Charitable Trust and the RSA Academies Trust and offers a similar type of broadcast format with sharp insights into different areas of work with, this time, a studio based presenter tying things up. This seems a much more professionally produced effort even if the presenting style is (to my extremely middle-aged eyes) far too Blue Peter and not enough Alfie Deyes to really appeal to younger viewers. The “audience” asking question segments are also a good idea in practice but in reality turn into the children struggling to keep a straight face for long enough to actually get an audible question out and also show the limitations of generic advice in return.

The RSA Academies Trust have also provided a number of resources for teachers to use with their classes either in preparation before watching the programme or to link to their subject in the curriculum. A well prepared teacher (or, to put it another way, a teacher well prepared by their Careers Leader colleague) could use the WOW Show broadcast as they would any other video resource. This significantly reduces the communal aspect of the broadcast, turning it into just another resource to use as teachers see fit. This places the WOW Show offer as much closer to other video based CEIAG resources such as icould or Careersbox. This diminishes the value of the resource as the variety of careers and labour market information available through icould for example just isn’t present to aid guidance and context for learners.

An employment sector also utilising this technology to connect with students is the Construction sector through their Construction Live events. It’s positive that a sector is showing initiative to connect with education and especially a sector that has struggled to provide other connecting opportunities such as work experience and employer visits in the past. Here a Chat facility is the main method for providing interaction with the audience.

Evidence

This is a fairly new trend in CEIAG embracing fairly new technology so research of impact on students seems limited but the Careers & Enterprise Company’s “What Works” series does include a publication on Careers websites which includes those sites utilising videos for CEIAG learning. The evidence relatable to live streams concludes that

Information-based career websites need to exist in the context of a wider offline
careers support program

to have the most impact but also that online support that facilitates communication

can lead to positive outcomes such as gains in career decidedness and self-knowledge, gains in satisfaction with future career prospects, and in career exploration behaviours.

This explains how important the interactive nature of CEIAG live streams and follow up from CEIAG staff in the educational setting are to their success.

To counter those positive findings is evidence from wider technology in Education studies

Which seems to suggest that having delivery from a practitioner in the room helps students attainment rather than experiencing the delivery remotely either at the same time or later. Could this be relatable to CEIAG provision by suggesting that employers ineraction with young people has more value if those employers are in the room?

Convenience or Impact

For employers looking to efficiently use their staff for educational outreach work, CEIAG live streams seem like a win-win provision to be involved with. For a short amount of commitment it is possible to reach many more learners than, for example, a team of employees would at a school careers fair. For schools, also time pressed and perhaps struggling to make links with employers from particular career areas, they also offer convenience and a quick win for providing evidence that they are offering CEIAG activities. The value of such provision though is still to be determined but the available evidence seems to suggest that what value it offers relies heavily on follow-up work in the school and the quality of interaction offered during the broadcast.

 

 

LinkedIn career advice

In November 2017 LinkedIn began rolling out a new feature across its site called “Career Advice.” After trials for users in Australia and San Francisco, it then launched for users in the UK, India and the US and, recently popped up on my app.

LinkedIn hopes the feature will

connect members across the LinkedIn network with one another for lightweight mentorship opportunities. Whether you need advice on your career path, switching to a new industry or best practices for a project you’re working on, Career Advice can help you find and connect with the right person who can help.

which sounds like a marvelous opportunity to build networks and gain industry insights in a professional forum.

Upon log on users are presented with an option page introducing them to the feature and asking how it could benefit them

Screenshot_20180509-204455.png

Users can stipulate which other users in their networks they can get mentoring or advice from

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And specify to those users what help you are particularly looking for

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Back in 2014 I posted about an online community careers support effort on Reddit but those users are anonymous (an important feature for Reddit users) so feedback, engagement and advice to posted questions can vary hugely. The LinkedIn effort is different for the advantages of professionalism and positive branding offered to those offering to be a mentor. For the mentee or those asking for advice, the service is useful for the accessibility to distinct professional insight and then being able to contextualize this with knowledge of the advice givers experience and background

For those Careers Advice colleagues working with clients of an age or professional background that have LinkedIn or those helping clients set up their LinkedIn pages, it could be a useful suggestion to enable this option on their profile. A guide on how to do this to become either a mentor or a mentee is here:

https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/87884/signing-up-for-career-advice?lang=en

Also, if you’re on LinkedIn and you would like to connect, this is me