Month: November 2013

School curriculum and subject choice: the new battleground for social mobility

Different Careers theories take varying positions about placing the wishes of the client at the centre of the process against others who place greater emphasis on acknowledging and combating the social constraints around the client and their direction of travel. This post argues for, what would be in reality, a more prescribed curriculum that would have greater benefits for a wider cohort of young people. Within this scenario the emphasis for the CEIAG community would be to help motivate and enthuse sometimes unwilling reticent pupils (and parents) about studying more academic subjects but highlighting and promoting the valued and respected career paths they could lead onto.

British Education Policy

One of the key features of our education system is that at certain points it gives students a choice about what they study. Perhaps the most obvious example is in post-16 education where they get to pick between studying A-levels or a more vocational alternative such as BTEC’s. Similar choices also exist at GCSE level. These choices have important consequences for the student’s future: taking some qualifications shuts off options that would have been available to them had they studied something else. It would be worrying, therefore, if these choices were determined not just by academic ability or personal preference but by social background. Unfortunately the evidence suggests that this is exactly what happens. Controlling for prior academic attainment, one study found that the probability of someone from a high socio-economic background studying academic subject’s post-16 was 79% compared to a 31% chance for those from low socio-economic backgrounds. The…

View original post 569 more words

Careers and CEIAG Accounts to follow on Twitter

I’m seeing more and more CEIAG folk popping up on twitter so I thought it may be helpful to post a list of accounts to follow that I have found indispensable in helping me be better at my job. There is a lot of news and opinion on twitter. This is multiplied when you use it for work and your job is at the intersection of business and education, secondary school and FE/HE and working life versus learning life. These are the accounts which keep me informed, make me think, challenge my preconceptions and drop nugget after nugget of gold into my timeline.

Be warned though: this won’t be a list purely to find resources to use with clients. If you are looking for online resources (especially with school age clients) then both Sue Burke’s site and  Janet Colledge’s Pinterest boards should be early ports of call.


1. Tristram Hooley – Head of the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby

2. Nick Newman – Founder of Careers Info and the National Careers Week Campaign

3. Fiona Christie – HE Careers Consultant at the University of Salford

4. Tahira Majothi – HE Careers Consultant also at the University of Salford

5. Deirdre Hughes OBE – Chair of the National Careers Council

6. Matt Hancock – Conservative Minister for Skills & Enterprise

7. Stephen Logan – Assistant Head at Malet Lambert school in Hull – passionate advocate for Enterprise education

8. Janet Colledge – London based Careers Education teacher

10. David Wallace – Schools Careers Manager in Stratford Upon Avon

11. Aimee Bateman – Founder of CareerCake TV and all round positive Careers advice mentor

12. Nick Linford – Editor of FEWeek with a sharp eye on the sector

13. Tristram Hunt – Labour Shadow Education Secretary

14. Lottie Dexter – Director of the Million Jobs campaign


1. CASCAID – Provider of CEIAG resources

2. National Apprenticeship Service

3. UK Commission for Employment & Skills

4. The Work Foundation – Lancaster University think tank focused on work

5. The Education & Employers Taskforce – Charity connecting schools and employers

6. The Career Development Institute – membership body for the Careers profession

7. Careers England – trade association of the Careers guidance industry

8. The Confederation of British Industry – if you’re preparing people for employment, then you need to know what the employers think

9. Office of National Statistics – Their jobs & earning data is very useful

10. Tomorrows Engineers – STEM Careers site by the Royal Academy of Engineering


1. Guardian Careers Section – covers a wide range of career issues and advice

2. Skills On Tap – news aggregator account


1. Department for Education – the people who make the plans

2. Education Select committee – the people who hold the people making the plans to account

I’m bound to have missed great people and great accounts from this list so let me know of any you think should be added in the comments below and I’ll carry on adding to the lists!

The right mix of inspiration and qualification in the CEIAG gold standard

While we await the publication of the promised improved guidance for schools to help them meet the Careers statutory duty, I’ve been picking over the noises emanating from those guiding the policy direction to see the direction of travel. In the immediate aftermath of the Ofsted survey, the response documents I mentioned here were clear in their message about increasing the involvement of businesses and employers from a wider range of careers in schools to provide “inspiration” to young people. It is a message that has been reinforced over the past few weeks:

In tweets from Dfe officials praising the Skills Show

In the Implementation Plan for the new delivery method for Apprenticeships (paragraphs 76 & 77)

And in Matthew Hancock’s policy update to FE Leaders

Combine this with the Government’s “freedom rules” stance on requiring QTS this does not bode well for those who wish to see some sort of mandatory requirement for schools to employ or engage with a Level 6 qualified Careers professional as a central tenet needed to satisfy the duty. This seems to be the focal point of disagreement between the policy makers and the Professional Organisations in what should be expected of schools to provide; where the balance lies between guidance offered by suitably qualified practitioners and inspiration for students provided by engagement with the working world. Both sides of the debate hope for the same outcomes for young people but the route of travel to get there seems to be causing disquiet.

It is vital to say here that this must not be an either/or debate. Both of the inputs can add great value to a school careers programme and, more importantly, should be adding great value to a school careers programme. What would be the point of CEIAG provision that either didn’t engage with employers or offer the practitioner chances to improve their practice? I wouldn’t be quite sure. The Government position seems to be though that one should happen in a school without much pressure to implement the other while the Professional Organisations think that one should only happen after the other.

The Professional Organisations face three problems though that make their expectations difficult to implement. First up is the sheer myriad of (perhaps semi) solutions that schools are adopting attempting to meet the Duty. My local experience is that more and more schools now realise the workload is too much for a teacher to take on as an extra responsibility around their teaching timetable and so are creating a specialised support role but there are also the options of buying in IAG services or even buying in whole CEIAG packages from companies such as Pearson’s Think Future. Where in this mixture of structures and responsibilities the requirement to hold or check a Level 6 qualification should lie would be difficult to judge and prescribe. Of course the other issue is money (isn’t it always?). Undertaking a Level 6 qualification costs money and school budgets are tight and getting tighter.

Thirdly, there is also the rationale to justify why the Level 6 in particular would ensure competence in CEIAG practice and why other CPD would not be sufficient enough. Mirroring the QTS debate, certification does not always ensure excellence while other CPD would offer many a chance to improve their practice. Of course, again like the QTS debate, those on the other side of the argument would argue that able practitioners should have no problems or qualms achieving the Level 6 and we should always set minimum standards for competence when public money is involved.

Data and research suggests that both inputs from each side of the debate can have positive outcomes for young people, employer interaction at school age can improve employment outcomes and quality, personalised support also decreases NEET outcomes. I hope that some kind of middle ground is found and the forthcoming revised guidance pleases all parties.

TEDx Talk: Dan Ariely – The importance of finding meaning in work

Another TED talk post but this is too good not to post.

The messages about the increasing central importance of finding meaning, ownership and creative pride in modern workplace roles are ones which Careers Advisers should hold in very high regard. Enabling clients to discover and admit their own motivations and values is a valuable talent for advisers to all age groups.

There are also salient points for leaders in all organisations who need to make space for acknowledgement and recognition which then feeds motivation and productivity.

I also loved the lesson about the IKEA business model being inbuilt with the fulfilling and satisfying factors which help strengthen the bond between consumer, product and brand.

A really interesting watch.

Me in Centrelink about School Destination Measures

Centrelink is a termly e-magazine from the Centre for Education & Industry at the University of Warwick.

My piece here:

The whole issue is here:

and is very much worth a read and your consideration.

Tedx talk: Debbie Sterling – Inspiring the next generation of female engineers

A brilliant talk from Debbie Sterling founder of Goldie Blox, her company that designs and sells engineering themed toys for girls.

The company is not only a fantastic avenue for her talents and interests in creating solutions and products but it is also consistent in conveying her message of promoting such careers to young girls. Combined with the use of her back story to promote the message and the company; it’s a powerful and consistent message.

A really inspiring video to use with students to reinforce messages of finding a niche and career happiness, hard work and battling stereotypes.