Here is the presentation myself and my colleague Jo gave today at the “Driving Change in 14-19 Education” Capita conference.
(link if the embed doesn’t load)
I hope that we got across our overall message, that any school, with the right conditions, support and drive, can deliver great CEIAG provision for their students.
In the Lords yesterday, Lord Nash confirmed what, I suspect, we all knew already, that there will be no mention of a requirement for face to face independent provision in the forthcoming updated guidance for schools on how they should be fulfilling the Careers Statutory Duty.
At Column 826.
Baroness Hughes of Stretford (Lab): My Lords, despite the Minister’s claims, Ofsted, the Education Committee, the British Chambers of Commerce and the CBI have criticised the Government’s hands-off approach to careers guidance. The CBI said recently that careers advice is on life support now in many
25 Feb 2014 : Column 826
schools in England. Does the Minister accept that it was wrong to give schools sole responsibility for careers advice but no money to deliver it? Will the Government now act to eradicate the postcode lottery in careers guidance and insist, as my noble friend said, on independent, face-to-face advice for all young people?
Lord Nash: I know that the noble Baroness and I share aspirations for what we expect for young people, but the answer to her question is a firm no. As noble Lords know, the fact that the country is short of money is not this party’s fault. However, I also think that the assumption that a face-to-face interview with a careers adviser is the gold standard is a very outmoded model. As noble Lords will see when we publish our guidance, I hope shortly, we have a very strong emphasis on employer engagement, which we believe is the secret to good careers advice. I give an example: Westminster Academy, which has built up partnerships with more than 200 employers, has 73% FSM and 75% A* to C, including English and maths. I can think of no better example or argument for employer engagement on the ground, giving pupils a direct line of sight to real-life workplaces rather than just career advisers.
This continues the themes from Micheal Gove’s appearance in front of the Education Select Committee in which he hoped for all of the positive outcomes of the work of Careers Advisers without actually wanting any Careers Advisers.
Whenever the updated guidance appears, it seems it will purely be a road-map explaining how schools and business could connect and collaborate which has already been covered in a recent IPPR report and will also be the point of a forthcoming Business in the Community document, which I have been fortunate enough to see an early draft of. With all of this guidance available to schools and the clear notification of a judgement on their CEIAG provision in any Ofsted report, the ball will be firmly placed back into school’s court on how they approach this work.
(click to embiggen)
I’ve blogged a few times on the theme that Careers activities in schools naturally offer opportunities for positive local media coverage. Well, finally, I’ve managed to follow my own advice with a small story in the local Luton newspaper this week which features a story on a recent visit from Pictons, a local law firm, who visited my school to speak to a group of about 25 students. Hopefully, in your school, Senior Leaders understand the value of Careers focused activities for the inherent value they have but, if they need that little extra push of persuasion, then dangling the possibility of local media coverage as a result could add more power to your argument. It’s worth noting though that this took the talents of professional PR firm brought along to the event by Pictons and the piece in the paper is completely copied and pasted from the first paragraphs of the copy they sent me for approval before submitting to the paper. The tips seems to be, after building links with your local journalists, provide them with everything to build the article from copy to a good picture.
Yesterday I was contacted by a market research company on behalf of The Department for Business Innovation and Skills who wanted to conduct a 15 minute (actually took about half an hour but that was probably my fault) telephone questionnaire into our contact and interaction with businesses. They seem to be phoning a number of schools across the country to get data about this.
The questions covered the types of interaction my school has had with businesses and from which sectors those companies operate in. From work experience placements, to mentoring schemes to mock interviews and career talks, the conversation covered the full remit of the different interactions possible to highlight any gaps in provision from certain sectors.
The final question was a “Do you have any other points to make to Bis about this topic?” type comment and I pointed out that, really, there has been enough reports recently on this subject and that any data the Department gains from the survey will probably only duplicate the known picture already widely published.
The main issue I had with the survey though was that the questions were mainly phrased for “yes or no” type answers which leads to easier data outputs but won’t accurately reflect the situation. For example, when asked if I had any interaction with the Agricultural sector I answered yes, as the list of interactions read to me covered work experience but I would be the first to admit that, just because one student has been on a work experience placement at the Rothamsted Research station two years ago, that doesn’t mean our employer interaction in this sector is of the highest standard.
It’s also interesting to consider why Bis are conducting this survey now. Will the data feed into the forthcoming updated Guidance to aid schools with their Statutory Duty for Careers? That conflicts with previous messages that the Guidance was already written and merely awaiting approval for publication. It would interesting to hear if other schools have been contacted for this survey and their take on it – get in touch.
So…at the end of the month myself and my colleague, Jo, are presenting a short bit at a Capita conference in London.
We’ve got 15 minutes to cover:
Engaging Pupils by Offering an Effective and Independent Careers Service
• Sourcing an external and suitable careers service within budget
• Identifying young people’s most appropriate pathway to
ensure continued engagement in learning at 17 years old
• Increasing young people’s awareness of the vocational
opportunities available so they can make informed choices
• Collaboration between schools and employers to provide
students with useful work experience
We will be working on our presentation this week and, other than that, generally trying to not think about it. If you’re attending, pop over and say hi.
The state of Careers guidance and education in schools feels “reported out” at the moment. It feels like so many organisations have been asking what should be done to improve the situation there’s probably no one left actually just getting on with the job of improving things. For the improvement to start happening in earnest, a great deal of importance has been placed on the long promised updated guidance previously issued by the DfE that, it is hoped, will clarify the way forward for schools and act as a roadmap to guide them towards offering more quality provision than the Ofsted survey found they currently do. This week that promised updated guidance was rendered completely irrelevant and unnecessary by “Driving a Generation” a report by IPPR North.
Compared to some of the other recent publications on the topic, it’s concise, based on dedicated work in schools and includes survey results of student opinion. Even with its brevity, schools only need to read an excerpt of it.
Recommendation 2 and Recommendation 3.
That’s it. In those two suggestions for practice are the backbone of a good, school based Careers offer. They cover all the bases: they speak of the need for quality involvement from business that is relevant to the curriculum and the labour market, the need for schools to have a nominated employee (probably not a teacher) coordinating and leading this interaction to provide a bridge between the two worlds and the rationale and student desire for meaningful work experience. They include the need for the wider business structure such as LEPs to play a part in encouraging interaction and spreading knowledge, examples of provision for each year group and the importance of more individualized advice and guidance for students as they progress to the later stages of secondary school.
Ever since the initial duty for Careers was placed on schools in September 2012 and the accompanying guidance was published, a common complaint has been that schools still needed clarity of what to actually do to meet the requirements. Despite the fact that schools could’ve easily discovered the answer to this question by asking their own students what they wanted, all of the recent media debate and numerous reports on the issue might have struggled to break through the din of noisy priorities a school has to deal with. This report clearly and quickly shows what should be done. There are still plenty of issues that schools could legitimately point to as excuse of struggling with their Careers offer (funding, finding time around curriculum pressures, a variety of interaction from employers across career areas) but clarity of what they should be aiming for can no longer be one of them. And we didn’t have to wait for the DfE to get it.