Careers guidance for young people: The impact of the new duty on schools – Education Committee Report – aka Graham Stuart says whoa there pickle

Published this morning is this report

from the Education Select Committee who, over a number of sessions, listened to the great and the good about what had happened to Careers services for young people since the demise of Connexions (which always seems to be followed with cries of “Boo! Hiss! Was rubbish!” these days) and the placement of a statutory duty on schools to acquire impartial careers advice for their students.

And, to get to the point, it’s a document with some very good bits. Some of the suggestions are what should have been put in place right from the start. There’s plenty of recommendations that I think would move careers advice forward in schools. It is clear about what is currently working and what isn’t and, in an all too rare quality from Government documents, it knows it’s stuff.

A few of the highlights

31.  The Government’s decision to transfer responsibility for careers guidance to schools is regrettable. 

It may be regrettable but it’s happened. The Report acknowledges this and quickly moves onto what should now be done to shore up the current mess.

46.  We commend the efforts made by some local authorities to support their schools in taking on the new duty, particularly by working with them to form consortia and partnerships to procure independent and impartial careers guidance. We recommend that the Government’s statutory guidance is strengthened to emphasise the benefits of this approach.

This is good in theory but won’t work in reality. Local Authorities and schools are currently picking their way through the political minefield left by the mass academisation of the secondary school system and there is much which both parties are unsure who is responsible for or who can intervene with what methods. Many Local Authorities are still unclear over their remit or responsibilities of intervention in academies which are falling below the GCSE floor standards or receiving poor Ofsted inspections. If the two groups are still finding their feet with such basic responsibilities of local school governance as that, than careers IAG will have to wait.

56.  We note the disconnect between the Minister’s view of the role of Ofsted in enforcing accountability on schools through its inspection framework, and Ofsted’s own view. The limitations which Ofsted set out to us—the fact that its inspections do not make a clear judgement on careers guidance provision in schools, that it does not inspect against statutory compliance in this area and that it does not routinely inspect all schools—means that the Ofsted framework is not a credible accountability check on the provision of careers guidance by individual schools.

As they say on the internet – BOOM. This is a massively important point for me. All of this is just fluff if it isn’t regulated in any meaningful way and, currently, the Schools Regulator doesn’t think it should be regulating Careers IAG. But the Minister for Skills thinks they do. There needs to be a solution to this, el pronto.

59.  We conclude that destination measures as they currently stand are not effective for ensuring that schools meet their statutory duty.

Yep, agree with that too. It’s useful data for adapting in school practice and for parents to consider outcomes but it doesn’t answer all of the questions the Dfe want it to.

63.  We recommend that the Department for Education introduces into the statutory guidance a requirement for schools to publish an annual careers plan, to include information on the support and resources available to its pupils in planning their career development. Schools should be required to review the plan systematically on an annual basis, taking into account the views of students, parents, employers and other learning providers.

Monsieur Stuart, now you’re just showing off. I love that idea. Schools are now required to publish lots of specific policies and utilise ever spangly websites to do so. A Careers Plan would be easy to add to these and very worthwhile.

74.  We recommend that the remit of the National Careers Service is expanded to enable it to perform a capacity-building and brokerage role for schools. As part of its capacity-building role, the National Careers Service should work with individual schools in designing their annual careers plan of provision for careers guidance as well as provide schools with local labour market information. Clearly, this would have funding implications and so we further recommend that the Department of Education instructs the Skills Funding Agency to cost the options of the National Careers Service remit being expanded in this way. 

Fine, sensible suggestion. Many schools will find the Duty too much of a burden or consider that they do not have experience staff in the area so they will look to outsource and any expertise or impartiality in this area would be welcomed by schools. But there needs to be flexibility as well. Some schools or consortia of schools have reacted quickly to the Duty and put in place robust and interesting systems to embrace the opportunities on offer to their students. These schools shouldn’t be asked to restart again with a one size fits all model.

81.  Access to face-to-face guidance is an integral part of good quality careers guidance. All young people should have access to such provision from a qualified, independent provider, should they choose to take up the opportunity. We recommend that a minimum of one personal careers interview with an independent adviser who is not a teacher should be available for every young person and that this is made explicit in the statutory guidance.

Lovely stuff.

86.  Websites are a valuable source of information about careers for young people. They cannot, however, replace face-to-face guidance, nor are they sufficient in themselves to fulfil the requirement on schools to provide independent, impartial guidance. To ensure that schools do not over-rely on directing their students to websites, we recommend that the Department for Education amends the statutory guidance to schools to make it clear that the signposting of independent websites is insufficient to meet their statutory duty.

Even lovelier stuff!

93.  We welcome the Government’s support for the increased involvement of local employers in careers guidance in schools, which is vital for effective careers provision. We recommend that schools be required to set out in their careers plans their arrangements with local employers and how they intend to enhance them.

Schools wearing their links with local employers as a badge of honour is something I’ve blogged about before and will make more sense as Studio schools and University Technical Colleges expand and compete for students at KS4.

109.  The Government’s decision to remove the statutory duty on schools to provide careers education and work-related learning has been heavily criticised by witnesses to our inquiry. We are persuaded of the benefits of both these former provisions and we recommend that the Government’s statutory guidance to schools is strengthened to require schools to provide careers education and work-related learning as part of their duty. 

*Insert picture of me dancing for joy*

Now all that needs to happen is for the Dfe to listen and to implement. The ball is in Michael Gove’s court. 


  1. Agree with every word. The DfE and BIS need to act together for the long term employability of this school generation. So much damage by one man, careers, EBacc and now A levels.

    1. Thanks for your comment Marie – There absolutely needs to be greater collaboration between the two Departments over it. Micheal Gove’s ideal method of passing authority down to schools might work for other areas of schools remit but I think enough people have stood up now and said it’s not working for Careers IAG. Still though, I really would be interested in his thoughts on the whole area of Careers IAG, even if he was to say he sees no value in it whatsoever, I would be interested in his reasoning as it would be better than the silence from him on it now.

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