So, the Ofsted Careers report is finally out and it’s pretty damming in its conclusions on the Careers Education Information Advice & Guidance that schools are currently managing to offer their students under the new Duty.
Clearly prepared for the verdict, within hours Matthew Hancock and the Department for Business team published a number of Action Plan documents and promised stronger guidance for schools in the forthcoming weeks. So, in true kneejerk internet blogging style, I’m going to totally jump the gun and predict what this reinforced guidance will mean for schools in reality. Except I’m not really, because the Government response to Recommendation 1 in that Action Plan tells us what it will include.
Greater pressure on schools to engage employers and build links
We will highlight the need for schools to build strong connections with employers, ensuring students can benefit from sustained contact with inspiring people from the world of work
Which is fine as any Careers program should be linked with the labour market and the needs of business but this needs to be somehow overseen by local Chambers of Commerce and Local Enterprise Partnerships. My fear is that this will, for want of a better phrase, evolve into a bit of a bunfight as schools deluge local businesses with requests for exclusive links to provide work experience, visits or mentoring for only their own students. The wave of Studio Schools and University Technical Colleges that are opening up across the country are at a major advantage here as their employer links are forged in their DNA. Those schools who are part of large academy chains may also find themselves ahead of the game as their sponsors hold the clout to arrange partnerships with national employers. There is significant work here for schools and organisations such as Inspiring the Future, FutureFirst and MyKindaCrowd should see interest rise. This is an easy check by Ofsted through conversations with focus groups of pupils on an inspection.
Schools will find it harder to resist offers of collaboration from UTC’s, Studio Schools, Sixth Forms, FE Colleges and Training Providers
We will…be much clearer in the guidance about what schools should do to ensure that students have information about all the types of education and training they could pursue, and hear directly from different types of providers”
and by “collaboration” I mean “getting their foot in the door.” Will the phrase “hear directly” mean the days of hiding prospectuses for competing institutions under the desk are over and open the doors to assemblies and tasters from these providers?
Schools will be told that only a range of provision is sufficient
we will be explicit that signposting students to a careers website is not sufficient to meet the careers duty
There is a difference though between saying what isn’t enough and saying what is enough and I think those advocates of face to face guidance with a highly qualified adviser being a core principle may again find themselves disappointed that is only included as a possible intervention.
The detail of Destination data for each school will be increased and will form the opinions of Ofsted before they walk through the door for an inspection
We will highlight the inclusion of destinations for 16 year olds in school performance tables, informing Ofsted consideration of the quality of careers guidance provided in a school.
Any figures dramatically divergent from the national or local mean will need to be explained and the percentage of students not going into a sustained destination will be scrutinised. Reflecting the conversations that follow the analysis of test data that informs Ofsted’s preconceptions about a school, wise Careers advisers will have an evidence heavy narrative ready to explain to inspectors why their school data is like it is.