We knew it wouldn’t be pretty but we just didn’t know how ugly it would be. The Education Secretary’s complete lack of interest in Careers work in schools during his time in office always meant that a dedicated session on it as part of the #AskGove Education Select Committee (from around the 10.14am mark) would be like a child discovering Brussel Sprouts for the first time in slow motion but, at times, the plain disgust was even more apparent.
Pressed by the Chair Graham Stuart and ably quizzed by Ian Mearns, the Education Secretary refused to concede that the IAG service on offer to young people had gotten worse under his watch, that Careers Advisers where, in any way, part of the solution to the eternal business + education interface issue and even labelled Careers leaders as lobbyists who place self-interest above working solutions for children and talk “garbage.”
He rebuffed tentative suggestions that initial teacher training should include any careers input, minimised accusations of schools funneling students into Sixth Forms for funding purposes and dismissed any evidence of the dismal state of the current situation as pretty worthless.
He contended that the triumvirate of Destination Measures, Matthew Hancock’s Vision plan and breaking the employer/education boundaries would continue the improvement he believes is materializing in Careers.
At one point he contended that students are already making “better” choices not due to IAG but because of the performance table levers the Dfe had pulled and the Wolf Report recommendations they had acted upon. It should be said that he higher numbers of students taking traditional academic subjects that has resulted from this is a plus point. I have read and find much to agree with in the evidence that shows this is good for social mobility but Mr Gove…young people are individuals even within that more traditional curriculum who appreciate support and guidance. This isn’t a disagreement over the percentage of 14 years olds doing hairdressing.
Gove finished on an impassioned outline of the Department’s vision of improving the quality and quantity of employer interaction with students as the sole answer to better preparing young people for the decisions they must make and the hills they must climb, which to my mind, misses a vital part of the jigsaw.
Young people are interested in the world of work, they want to know more about the sheer variety and scale out there, they want to experience this world, try it out and see what feels right for them. They want to begin to grasp how they might fit into it, understand how what they’re learning now might help them open doors in the future and what those first rungs on the ladder might look like. They want to know how to behave and act in this wholly different world from education, discover and learn from the stories of people who have trodden this path before them and even hear of paths they never knew existed. The Dfe would seemingly like activities that fulfill all of those needs to be organised by schools. Well, perhaps they could even be organised by an approachable face in school, someone the young people know and can rely on as part of the school community. That person could enact the gauntlet of activities from talks to tasters to work experience to workshops and, from time to time, could even find themselves answering questions from the students about local courses or opportunities, helping them organise inroads into employers they otherwise would not make, reminding them of application deadlines or even provide the occasional motivational nugget to spur them onto those distant goals.
Hey presto, suddenly, you’ve got something you didn’t sound much like you wanted today, a Careers Adviser.