Is CEIAG in schools about to get its own “middle tier”?

A significant shift of Education policy for schools will be in place, ready to go, from September 2014. Eight Regional School Commissioners each supported by their Headteacher Boards will be in place ready to support and challenge under performance of academy schools in their area. Whatever your political views on the rehashing of roles traditionally carried out by locally accountable Local Authorities, this is a significant step-change in policy from the “freedom for all” mantra that accompanied the splurge of academy school conversions in the early days of the Coalition Government and, seemingly, an acknowledgement that 1000’s of schools cannot be monitored and supported by an office of civil servants based in Whitehall without the introduction of a much called for Middle Tier.

This recognition of a need for a more local touch to school provision to encourage, maintain and grow good practice could be about to seep over into careers work in schools.

Just before the summer holiday the DfE released a written submission to the Education Select Committee who are due to hold a follow-up evidence session about their Careers Guidance inquiry with the SoS for Education in the Autumn. The document is a step by step reiteration of Government policy towards CEIAG scattered with references and links to put forward the message that things are slowly improving as schools grow into the expectations placed upon them but it also contains a few hints of more changes to come. Not least that, from October 2014, the role of the National Careers Service and it’s work with schools will be drastically remodeled.

National careers service

I am posting about this now as today I saw a job advertised that would be tasked with carrying out this new role for the Service. The job description for the role is an insight into not just what responsibilities this role will fill but also hints at how these “Careers Inspiration Managers” (official title or just a company invention?) would jigsaw together across the country working with schools in their areas. There is much that a school Careers Co-ordinator might welcome from the role such as the mentions of increasing the spread of clear Labour Market Intelligence and a clearer, more direct route to local CEIAG events with strong employer inputs. The things that would give me a pause though are the requirements to establish what schools are already doing (which in reality means more paperwork!) and this bullet point:

To work with the Business Development Director to identify new business opportunities for Futures within the Careers Inspiration agenda

which leads me to believe that at least some of the activities offered will come with either a standard monetary charge for schools or a pupil by pupil cost (or perhaps just accompanied by marketing to buy in the firm’s face to face IAG offer). If it is the case that it will be a cost per activity, then many schools will be hesitant about involving themselves with these offers.

There are also many references to working closely with the local Local Enterprise Partnership and, as the service provider, Futures, is based in Nottingham, I assume this refers to D2N2LEP. In my own experience the interaction between LEPs and school careers advisers has been severely lacking so this could be a welcome method for addressing the need to disseminate the local area skills needs and business priorities into schools. There is though, no indication that the Inspiration Managers patch will align with the LEP so, if not, how many Inspiration Managers will be working with each LEP? Will Managers have to work with more than one LEP? How will this all coagulate with the responsibilities Local Authorities still hold? Until the details of the new expectations on the NCS are released in the Autumn, there are still explanations to come on how this new structure will work in practice.

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