Month: April 2014

The best Year 9 Options advice video I’ve seen

Isn’t even a video designed to show Year 9 students or their parents in the UK.

 

 

Narrated by Tony Botelho at the Career Services Unit at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia Canada, I think it brilliantly sums up the issues I have with the way a lot of parents and students believe they must frame their decisions when choosing Key Stage 4 options.

No matter how your school organises Key Stage 4 routes, students and parents will always want to make connections between the courses on offer and future employment destinations. They, as Tony says, want to define the “Preferred Career” to give their child a target which, in today’s complicated labour market is understandable. It must be comforting to hear that X leads to Y which will then make you definitely qualified to do Z and even more calming to be able to pass that information onto your son or daughter. Don’t stress, the route is clear.

Deep down though, we know this is a simplified version of the reality facing the majority of young people. We know through our own experiences and those of our peers that happenstance, networks and experience can hold much greater influence over a Career than a route map. At ages 13/14 most learners will have no clear idea of what their “target” is and even those who do, will their perception of their “target” match the reality of that profession (Hello CSI, you and me still need to have words). Many will still be 8 to 10 years of changeable teenage and young adult life away from taking those first, full-time steps into the work of work.

Shouldn’t we be braver when advising those youngsters and their parents by admitting the future ahead may be more complex? Shouldn’t we say it’s OK not to know your “target” or even to stop believing that you must have one? It’s OK to still be discovering, trying new experiences and then taking the time to reflect on those experiences. It’s OK to think about the courses you might take in terms of the experiences and opportunities they might offer whilst studying them rather than what the qualification outcome might lead to.

I think so and it’s a video I will try to use at parents information events in the future.

Geeking out with @Edu_Employers research conference talks

The theory and statistics behind education and employer engagement and youth transitions into the labour market is exciting stuff isn’t it?

No wait, come back, IT IS. Or at least I find it to be. I find the theory and narratives found in the data (and by “found” I mean presented to me in easy to understand graphs by Professor types) allow me to speak to parents and students with much more clarity on the prospects ahead of them, compare the value of the routes on offer locally in a wider context away from the marketing hype and just generally be confident in that I have a better idea in what the hell I’m talking about when people are looking to you for guidance on that hardest of things to predict; the future.

These videos are from the Education and Employers Taskforce Research Conference January 2014.

Professor Alison Wolf – On the death of the youth job market, how the growth of youth unemployment in the 18-24 age bracket is seriously worrying, the comparison with between the value of a degree in the UK to Europe and how the Apprenticeship system is failing the under 19s, the age group who needs them most.

 

Dr Anna Mazenod – On the difference between Apprenticeship policy and rhetoric for the under 19s and actual system delivery in the UK compared to other EU countries (spoiler: we’re still not doing right by just asking employers nicely to play ball and not requiring them to play ball).

 

Dr Anthony Mann & Dr Steve Jones – On how experiences of employer interaction can aid young people in their future labour market entry which, considering the very clear requirements in last weeks Guidance on schools to secure employer interaction for their pupils, is now central to Careers policy for young people in the UK. The quoted feedbacks from students are very interesting especially when comparing the school types they originate from.

 

All worth watching and all will help me place the decisions I make on the provisions I try to secure for students and the value those provisions should hold in the wider context of the increasingly challenging school to work obstacle course.

The updated (April 2014) Statutory Careers guidance is here

Published today we get:

A Press Release:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pupils-to-be-advised-by-employers-to-pursue-ambitious-careers

The actual Statutory guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/302422/Careers_Statutory_Guidance_-_9_April_2014.pdf

and some supplementary guidance with extra information, some wonderful case studies of work in schools, a Q&A section and some helpful web links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/302424/Careers_Non-Statutory_Departmental_Advice_-_9_April_2014.pdf

Read, enjoy and debate but my initial thoughts are that no school leader could read those documents and claim “not to know” what to do for Careers work in their school.

Send your examples of Careers best practice into Matthew Hancock

In a recent letter to Chairs of Learning Providers and FE Colleges (4th April 2014) Skills Minister Matthew Hancock gave an update on the numerous changes happening across the sector. Attached to the letter was a briefing for FE Governors and, on page 7 of this briefing under a title of Careers/Inspiration, is a request for examples of good practice in Careers work to be emailed to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

Many organisations are
already doing important work in this area and there has been a high level of success and
positive impact being achieved by those we have spoken to. In order to find out more,
share successes and inspire more people to get involved in delivering this vision we
would like you to send us examples of good practice. These might be examples from
your own organisation or other organisations, web links, case studies, or a couple of
lines in an email that we can follow-up. Please send your responses to
inspirationvision@bis.gsi.gov.uk.

The paragraph references the Inspiration Vision Statement published by the Department in September alongside the disappointing results of the Ofsted Careers survey. I assume that whatever submissions they receive will add to the data they collected from phone surveys in February 2014 and from some longer, more in-depth interviews I know they have also been conducting about school + employer collaboration to help shape the forthcoming revised Careers guidance (edit – not gonna happen as the revised Guidance was released the very day after this post) and the Department’s future policy in this area. So, get emailing your examples of good practice!

CEIAG isn’t about letting the big business wolf through the door

 

I’m not a teacher so I’m not a member of a teaching (or any) Union so usually, while I’m aware of their valuable point of view on the UK education landscape, even their strikes haven’t affected me. The recent NUT action didn’t shut my school and, now that we’re in our 4th year of the Coalition Government, some members are becoming increasingly mystified about the direction of protest of their Union but mainly they don’t seem to have taken an interest in CEIAG in schools. That is until I saw some quotes from their Head of Education, Ros McNeil in this piece about Businesses running Careers workshops caught my eye.

The BAE scheme mentioned is a fantastic example of similar schemes run by companies for schools all over the country with the key elements of direct engagement with the employees, an introduction to jobs and areas of work perhaps the youngsters had very little realistic knowledge of and clear links to the lessons and curriculum they are studying to show the value of what they are learning.

The article itself can’t help but build a black and white picture that companies are suddenly filling the vacuum left by the loss of Connexions to suddenly get into schools to run workshops (many have been for years and continue to do so where the regional versions of Connexions are struggling on) and that, like Michael Gove’s simplistic take on the value of Careers workers, this has to be a ‘either or’ situation. Ms McNeil’s first point is a practical one on this theme that schools do need to consider:

“Schools just receive too much information from myriad companies and I think heads are feeling overwhelmed. It is almost impossible to navigate what is good for a school,” she says.

but one to which I’m duty bound to offer a solution.

Though it’s her second contribution that I’m concerned with:

McNeil would like to see a greater public debate about the role of companies in schools. The NUT sees employers “as key partners of schools”, McNeil says, but would have concerns if they were drawing up lesson materials. “If companies are producing curriculum resources and getting access to schools to have their brand known by schoolchildren and to be able to bring that angle in, I think we would have significant concerns about that.”

This concern about the ulterior motives of companies to spread their brand recognition has good intentions but is surely misguided. To begin with it shows a distinct lack of understanding of what is already happening in schools as lesson materials are already produced by companies and used by teachers and, in specialised cases like Studio Schools, the teachers are working with companies to design large parts of the curriculum but, centrally, it is the desire to protect children from the preying vultures of corporations that misses the point of CEIAG work by a country mile.

As much as you might want them to, schools don’t exist in sealable bubbles.

They deal with young minds who come from their environments and at the end of each day, send them back out into that society. Each and every lesson, teachers deal with young people that piggyback into the classroom the positives and negatives of their outside world experience be they the overseeing eyes of interested parents, the legacies of Snapchat bullying or the after effects of the energy drink they necked on the walk in. Any teacher that has seen the emotional crater left when confiscating an iPhone or some Beats headphones will know that brands and corporate messages are another important strand of these wider influences. Yet it is also naive to treat young people as merely consumers in training as there are popular cultural messages highly valued by them which have anti corporate messages or values.

The corporate world is the world they already inhabit, are already making decisions about and will have to work in throughout their lives. Surely one of the benefits of CEIAG is that by utilising companies in Career learning in schools we are taking control of how young people begin to learn and understand about the companies behind those brands and the difference between marketing and reality. We can have a say over how some of those early interactions take place and where the value of them is focused. CEIAG offers us the chance to fulfill exactly the regulatory role Ms McNeil wants. It is about young people learning how to take control of their own futures and not be purely powerless end users at the ebb and flow of the needs of business and the labour market. It offers them the chance to see the strings behind the puppet and become all the more powerful as a result. As Neil Carberry of the CBI puts it, “”Business and education are looking for the same thing: a young person who can navigate their way in the 21st century.” CEIAG is the map and compass we can give them.

Some quick thoughts on the new #GCSE reform and post 16 progression

The latest in a tumult of change sweeping through all stages of England’s education system was announced this morning with the Ofqual consultation on which grades in the new GCSEs (1-9, with 9 being the best) will be equal to what grades under the old GCSEs (with the all important for the student C gateway).

A few possible implications regarding how these changes will affect the progression of young people onto the next stages of their learning and how CEIAG staff will have to adapt spring to mind.

So, bearing in mind that these will first be awarded to students in the summer of 2017 in English, English Literature and Maths GCSE only and that the content of the curriculum studied by these students for the 2 year course will have been more challenging than the predecessor and it will have been assessed purely on terminal exams rather than incorporating speaking and listening elements…

1. The proposal that a grade 4 will be equivalent to a grade C from the legacy qualification and a grade 7 will be equivalent to an A – will mean very different things depending on which side of the ‘C’ boundary a child falls. The increased number of grades (6 rather than 4) above the boundary will spread students achieving a “pass” out across these grades and give Sixth Forms and HE more scope to distinguish between higher achieving candidates for both A Level and Russell Group type degrees and between A Level courses even at the same institution, you may see a greater variance in entry requirements (History A Level courses asking for a “7 or above in GCSE History” for example rather a standard 5 or 6 across the other subjects).

For those below the  boundary it will be a different story. More children, to begin with, will be clumped across fewer grades below this raised standard and will therefore have the choice of Post 16 routes restricted. The Dfe believe that improving standards and changes to Key Stage 2 curriculum and tests will raise standards of attainment in the longer term but most people’s first conclusion will be that will see a larger proportion of students each year not have the choice of the full range of pathways open to them. The 4 A Level and higher vocational qualification route will not be possible for as many students as it is now and, because of the rules for English & Maths retakes, more students will see the options that are open to them become more prescribed. I fear there are implications for student motivation here in Key Stage 4 which CEIAG professionals will be at the forefront of addressing.

2. 2017 and 2016 is going to be a dogs dinner for CEIAG workers in Secondary schools – As it will only be new GCSEs in English Language, English Literature and Maths awarded this year, students will open their envelopes on results day to find a grade 1-9 in these qualifications but still be awarded A-G in any other GCSEs they will have taken such as History, Drama, Music etc. Many students will have also studied a L2 BTEC course so receive a Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail in those subjects.

This will have repercussions as those students go on through the education system and their working lives but also in the long tail of guidance and build up to transition that pre-empt those results. How will Sixth Forms, FE Colleges and Apprenticeships Employers adjust their requirements to reflect this mix of new and old? Will they be able to communicate their requirements to feeder schools early enough so proper IAG can take place? How will these changes interact and impact with the changes to the A Level curriculum and the removal of the AS mid-point? Will Apprenticeship employers react in time to adjust their online application sites or be fully aware of the equivalent grades?

Of course this is still at the consultation stage and the Ofqual documents states that, ultimately, the decision on where the grading falls will be based on the feedback from employers and FE and HE. Meanwhile, for the students and those trying to advise them, there are lots of answers still to come.

Piece on my school in the Guardian

Me: I spoke to the Guardian a few weeks ago about my role and how the school really supports our Careers work

Avid Reader: Oh nice, well done, but one thing..

Me: Yes?

Avid Reader: This fella they interviewed is called George

Me: No it’s me

Avid Reader: Are you sure?

Me: Well, they call me by full name in the first paragraph

Avid Reader: So your name is Russell?

Me: My first name is, yes

Avid Reader: But then it keeps saying “George” does this and “George” does that.

Me: Hmmmmmm

Avid Reader: So how come…?

Me: Believe me, it’s not the first time

Avid Reader: But…it’s only two words to get in the right order

Me: I know, I thought Russell Brand getting popular would solve this

Avid Reader: Ah, but he’s only get one first name!

Me: So have I!

And so on

Anyway, it’s here:

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/apr/01/careers-advisers-schools-help-students-business-contact