Month: July 2014

How Ofsted will inspect Careers IAG in schools from September 2014

2015 Update here:

Things never stand still. Especially in education and especially over the last 4 years.

It has been almost a year since I published this post on how, the then newly published, Ofsted handbook instructed inspectors to evaluate a school’s CEIAG provision during Section 5 inspections in the 2013/14 academic year and, carrying on the flow of change, today Ofsted have released an updated handbook (PDF) to guide inspectors during their work in schools in the 2014/15 academic year. CEIAG is still included in the Leadership and Management section but the wording has (as has for most areas  in this new, truncated edition) changed.

So, Ofsted inspectors in 2014/15 will be primed to look for (page 43):

154. Inspectors should explore:
 the extent to which the school has developed and implemented a
strategy for ensuring that all pupils in Years 8 to 13 receive effective
careers guidance
 the impact of this guidance in helping young people to make
informed choices about their next steps
 how well the school meets the needs of all vulnerable groups of
pupils, including reducing the numbers who do not continue to
education, employment or training
 how well the school works with families to support them in
overcoming the cultural obstacles that often stand in the way of the
most able pupils from deprived backgrounds attending university.

A few points to note:

  • “Inspectors should explore” means they won’t just be talking to the Professionals in the school, I would still expect them to ask students their views on the quality of the CEIAG they have received.
  • “The impact of this guidance” could mean that, in your Ofsted box of evidence, it might be handy to have not just Destination data but case studies of students who have made successful transitions after attending tasters, visits, workshops etc
  • The focus on NEETS is pretty clear

So far, so good but there are a couple of things I take issue with:

  • There isn’t a hyperlink to the Careers Statutory Guidance in the document. Minor quibble but it would’ve been better to wave it under inspector’s noses a bit.
  • “overcoming the cultural obstacles that often stand in the way of the most able pupils from deprived backgrounds attending university”…Not a Apprenticeship but University. Oh dear, parity of routes?
  • There is no mention of CEIAG in the Grade Descriptors for Leadership and Management section from page 49. So a school’s CEIAG provision should be checked to see if it is outstanding or terrible or anywhere in-between but it seems this will have no impact on the actual grade awarded for this section and so, the overall grade.

And that’s it for the main school guidance. Until you get to Page 79 as this year, after consultation, Ofsted will offer a separate grade for a school’s Sixth Form provision and so has equipped inspectors with a dedicated section in the handbook for this. The relevant CEIAG paragraph reads:

The school provides good, impartial careers education, information, advice and
guidance prior to starting post-16 courses. Students are aware of their choices
following completion of their post-16 study programme.

“Impartiality” gets a specific here which would require some questions to be asked of current Sixth Form students by inspectors while, I would imagine, for schools without Sixth Forms like mine, this would be subsumed into checks on the first bullet point in the whole school guidance above.

With regard to CEIAG, last year’s handbook had a tricky task of bolting on a whole new area for inspectors to check into already stuffed schedules for inspection teams in schools and this years probably has just as difficult a job to achieve. While the Careers Statutory Guidance has expanded, the Ofsted handbook has been slimmed down  so the complexity of the requirements and suggestions in the Guidance does seem a little lost in translation and leaves greater room for, depending on your point of view, either schools to be able to tell their individualized CEIAG back-stories to inspectors or allow a greater lack of consistency in judgments.

Putting the shoe on the other foot

Continuing a recent theme on this blog about the growing market for student movement at 14 and the interaction this has with CEIAG, I thought I’d just highlight potential for some localised apple cart unsettling.

September 2014 will see another small cohort of FE Colleges join the trailblazers that opened their doors last year to 14 year olds. This is part of the wider Government policy push for Key Stage 4 students to consider moving to alternative providers who offer a curriculum focus more suited to their goals. Alongside the already vaunted, opened and (in some cases) closed UTC’s and Studio Schools these FE College and Career College establishments will aim to enrol students already part way through their secondary school journey and will no doubt utilise substantive marketing budgets to those ends.

The growth of these provisions will only strengthen the FE sector’s resolve to air their ongoing concerns about the access and the guidance available to the majority of school students before these important transitions. There is now though, potential for the tables to be ever so slightly turned in this regard. The accompanying guidance documents for “Full-time enrolment of 14 to 16 year olds in FE and sixth form colleges” specifically states:

Careers guidance
66. The college is required to secure independent careers guidance for all students up
to and including the age of 18. Independent careers guidance secured under the
requirement should:
a) include information on the full range of education and training opportunities
b) be provided in an impartial manner
c) promote the best interests of the student to whom it is given
67. Colleges should review existing support and take steps to ensure this meets the
needs of their of 14- to 16-year-old students. They should also ensure that the young
person has received sufficiently robust information, advice and guidance prior to
commencing at college to ensure they are following the most appropriate learning
68. The DfE has published guidance for institutions on securing independent careers
guidance. The DfE has also published statutory guidance and departmental advice for
schools on careers guidance and inspiration which can be used by colleges to review
support for of 14- to 16-year-old students.

Of course, we shouldn’t all expect school Sixth Forms near to the Colleges in Middlesbrough, Leeds or elsewhere mentioned in the FE Week article above to suddenly start banging on FE College doors to demand access and offer IAG to the young people soon to be studying within them but at least it shows that, on paper, the level playing ground for collaboration to grow has been laid.


What if this years rules had applied to the last 3 years Luton school league tables?

This summer’s GCSE results will be the first to be league tabled under new rules put forward in the Wolf Review:

“vocational awards do still qualify but no qualification can count for more than one GCSE (instead of being equivalent to 2 or 4) and only two vocational qualifications are allowed to be included in 5A*-C including E&M”

Henry Stewart from the Local Schools Network has put a FOI into the DfE for the data showing how results from the past three years would look judged against this forthcoming criteria.

I’ve copied and pasted the data for the Luton schools from those spreadsheets and added the full 5A*-C E&M (including equivalents) from the DfE performance table website.

luton schools 2013


luton schools 2012

luton schools 2011


There is a fairly clear trend as the “gap” between the headline measure and the WOLF measure narrows across the schools in the 3 years to 2013. This direction of travel is a definitive positive as overall pass rates have remained high as the curriculums have become broader which, in turn, will mean that more Luton school leavers will have a wider range of Post 16 options available to them and be more likely to succeed on those pathways. It also means that the schools have the curriculum offers in place to be much better positioned for the bigger change to the league tables due to happen in 2016 with the introduction of Progress and Attainment 8.

I don’t know how to put this but I’m kind of a big deal: CEIAG remix

The fact that anyone reads, comments or shares my posts on this Careers blog continually amazes and delights me. There is the whole internet out there to click your life away on and, as an author of an opinion based blog focused on a narrow strand of education policy, I’m grateful that, for what ever reasons, people choose to while away some time on this particular corner of it.

Of course, all bloggers must feel pride or some small sense of accomplishment when people they admire or respect in their field takes note, praises or even quotes your output.

Then, there’s the faintly ridiculous sensation you get when you realise that the Department for Education has quoted you.

That’s right: in paragraph 18 of a recently released document (footnote bottom of page 6), written by the DfE for the Education Select Committee to update them following their inquiry into Careers Guidance in schools, this short post gets a mention.

They’ve quoted me there to show approval for the revised Statutory Guidance which fits into the wider mission of the update document to convince the Select Committee that the Department’s policies are bearing fruit and steering us all towards an improved CEIAG landscape.

Firstly, it’s a quote I stand by. The revised Guidance document was a vast improvement over the original and goes into great (sometimes even overly repetitive) detail of what a school should be doing in regard to CEIAG. There was a period after the release of the original duty document when a common complaint from Headteachers was that they “didn’t know what to do” to provide quality careers provision. The revised document ended that get out clause as a reason for a school’s lack of provision but, let’s be clear, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other reasons that a school may well be struggling with providing Careers services for their young people.

So, in a desperate scramble to retain some sense of credibility now that I’ve been quoted by “the man,” here are a few things to clear up:

  1. At the time of the inquiry, I wrote a less than favourable post about the Secretary of State’s appearance in front of the Committee to give evidence. Surprise! None of that gets a mention.
  2. I really do appreciate the use of the term “careers website” guys but, come on, The Guardian Careers site, Careersbox, the National Careers Service, these are “careers websites.” This place is just the semi coherent ramblings of a lanky lad from Luton who is putting off other things he should be doing instead.
  3. In other areas of policy the DfE is greatly increasing the amount of content and so teaching time needed for subjects such as Maths and English. They won’t (and probably shouldn’t) apologise for this but it will have consequences. For any Career leads in schools hanging onto Form or dedicated PHSE teaching time to deliver Careers sessions, this is bad news.
  4. The money issue is bubbling under and will continue to grow into a massive issue for schools. Quality careers provision costs money, be that wages for a post, paying for resources or just coach trips to an event, it needs schools to dedicate a budget to it and, as the Gatsby Foundation showed, if schools are not doing that at when it could only cost a small percentage of current funding levels…the squeeze on Careers will only get tighter as the overall pot shrinks. Schools need funding for this work and any hint of a request or suggestion that would of required cash support has been stonewalled by this Department.

I presume the update has been submitted as summer reading for the Education Committee members ahead of a final evidence session on their inquiry with the Secretary of State in the Autumn (which, considering his Department just ignored every suggestion or criticism in their report, should be fun). Also ahead of this they have released a call for written evidence to be submitted to them before the 19th September 2014. I couldn’t think of any better submissions for them to receive than evidence from practitioners in the field striving to show the importance and value of CEIAG everyday.