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.
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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
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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.