It’s been days, whole 24 hour periods of time have passed, since a report has been published by some organisation or another on the state of Careers work in English schools. So, this week, the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy decided to break the silence by publishing the first Joint Report of the Business, Innovation and Skills and Education Committees of Session 2016-2017.
This followed the usual Committee procedure of taking written evidence, visiting providers and taking oral evidence from witnesses.
The Sub-Committee report reiterates many of the phrases and conclusions seen before across the multitude of Careers reports in the past few years. Careers provision in schools is “patchy,” drink. Schools with Sixth Forms are “reluctant to provide impartial advice and guidance,” drink. That the marketplace for Careers services to schools and students is “overly complicated,” drink. Like a wedding band Beatles, the report covers all the hits.
One aspect that was noticeable though on my reading, is that the Sub-Committee likes spending schools money.
An effective school careers programme should include a combination of impartial and independent advice and guidance, careers education embedded in the curriculum, and opportunities for students to engage with employers. We consider the Gatsby Foundation’s eight benchmarks a useful statement of the careers provision to which all schools should be aspiring. The Government’s policy objective should be to incentivise all schools to ensure their careers provision is brought up to a good standard and to hold them to account when they fail to do so.
We recommend that the Government, once the new quality brand is in place, amend statutory guidance to require all schools to work towards being accredited under this brand, and only to use careers services from organisations holding it.
We recommend that the Government statutory guidance is amended to require those delivering advice and guidance in schools to hold, at a minimum, a relevant level 6 qualification.
We recommend that the Government work with employers and schools to produce a plan to ensure that all students at Key Stage 4 have the opportunity to take part in meaningful work experience.
Those four recommendations aren’t the only ones that relate directly to schools but those are the ones that come with a £ cost attached. How much? Well, the Gatbsy report which is much quoted my the Sub-Committee has already done the hard yards here and included a cost breakdown for schools wanting to reach it’s benchmarks. For all secondary schools in England this reaches a rough figure of £181m. The costing laid out in the Gatsby report include an annual £15,000 for CPD and £8,000 for organising the health & safety and administration requirements needed for a work experience program, so that covers Recommendations 11 and 18.
What isn’t included in the Gatsby costing though is funding for Quality Awards inspection. Again, I’ve previously calculated that this would be around £5.71m for every school in England to achieve one.
So, from this one report, that’s £186.71m schools are expected to find from their existing budgets with £181m of that to be found every academic year.
School funding is extremely tight with the number of schools running deficits growing. There is plenty else in the Sub-Committee report that I could take issue with (the reliance on an inspectorate who won’t even visit around 20% of schools to inspect CEIAG for example) but it’s the complete lack of consideration of how schools are going to fund the recommendations they put forward that deserves the greatest annoyance.