apprenticeship

Your Baker Clause school CEIAG policy guide

Exams are looming and the summer break is peaking over the horizon so nobody working in schools needs anything extra to do but I’m going to make a suggestion of something that CEIAG leads should consider getting sorted if not before the end of term, then very quickly in the new academic year. That job is writing, consulting with Senior Leadership on and then publishing on the school website the school policy on other educational and vocational providers speaking and presenting to your cohort of students.

The Technical and Further Education Bill received Royal Assent and became law on 27th April 2017. The core purposes of the Bill are to lay out the regulation and authority of the new Institute for Apprenticeships and create a new insolvency process for Further Education Colleges that navigate themselves into tricky financial waters. It is though one of the Amendments to the Bill, requested by Lord Baker (joint founder of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust which facilitates the opening of new UTCs) that requires attention from CEIAG practitioners in schools.

(CEIAG colleagues in FE Colleges will be more concerned by another Amendment which now requires that Ofsted specifically comment on Careers guidance when publishing their reports on FE providers. I don’t know why this required statute and could not be achieved through Ofsted’s own guidance to inspectors similar the requirement to comment on Careers provision in secondary schools).

Away from the main Bill the Baker Clause can be seen here at paragraph 2. It requires that schools

  1. must ensure that there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access registered pupils during the relevant phase (ages 13-18) of their education for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships
  2. must prepare a policy statement setting out the circumstances in which education and training providers will be given access to registered pupils for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships
  3. must ensure the policy statement includes procedural requirements in relation to requests for access, grounds for granting and refusing requests for access and details of premises or facilities provided to those granted access
  4. must revise the policy “from time to time”
  5. must publish the policy statement

And it this job that needs completing as soon as possible.

All good CEIAG schemes in schools will include plenty of input from vocational and apprenticeship providers and, ever since starting this blog, I have been wary of the Vocational training sectors rote complaint that “students don’t know we exist” as an over simplification of the complicated reasons young people follow routes with clearer directions of travel and fail to secure apprenticeships, despite registering and applying for them in huge numbers (compared to vacancies), yet a cliché is a cliche for a reason. Everyone working in Careers in schools has heard eyebrow raising tales of Sixth Form managers escorting FE College visitors out of the school reception, prospectuses going missing, Apprenticeship providers being put in a classroom to talk to only a “select” group of students and so on. As Lord Baker himself has noted, the introduction of providers such as UTC’s who admit students at 14 into a system unused to this competition for funded students complicated local issues so providing a clearer set of guidelines while still allowing local flexibility would seem a solution looking from the top down. The downside is that it can result in unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.

Tackling the issue from the ground up, practitioners and colleagues will already know that solving these issues best comes through the relationships built from local collaboration and transparency, strong local progression networks and the buy in to a shared vision for positive student outcomes in a regional area.

Where this isn’t the case though, some Vocational and Apprenticeship providers (and Vocational professional bodies will be doing their utmost to inform their members) will be approaching schools in the new academic year expecting a policy document to be in place. Yet any school leaders will also be wary that these requests come at unsuitable times for learning or assessment preparation, they might clash with a multitude of other events such as school photos, leavers assemblies, trips, other booked visitors and so on. This provision needs to part of a planned scheme of CEIAG work for year groups and cohorts so having a clear policy published early will help deal with multiples of requests and also deal with any members of school staff still sticking to outdated ways of working when responding to other local providers who enrol at 14 or 16.

Whether as a separate document or part of your main CEIAG policy I would suggest something along these lines:

As part of X school’s commitment to informing our pupils of the full range of learning and training routes on offer to them, X school is happy to consider requests from training providers, Vocational education and apprenticeship providers to speak to students and will also approach these partners ourselves when planning organising key Careers events throughout the school year.

In the first instance, providers wishing to speak with students should consult our calendar of Careers events published on the school website as we would welcome their input at our main Careers events throughout the school year:

Key Stage 3 Futures drop down day – Autumn term

Key Stage 3 Options Evening – March

Key Stage 4 Careers Fair – October

Life Beyond the Sixth Form – May

These events provide ample opportunities to speak to students and parents both individually and in groups to offer information on vocational, technical and apprenticeship routes. These are usually held in the school hall and timings, facilities and parking and registration details are emailed to exhibitors in good time before the event. Enquires about these events can made to school X’s CEIAG lead at the email address below.

We also have a number of whole year group assembly slots which offer providers a short opportunity to quickly spread the word about their offer. These are 20 minutes slots to a whole year group of around 200 students in our main assembly hall which has a whiteboard projector and speakers for sound. These are usually on offer through the early part of the Autumn and Spring terms as, at other times, our halls are used for exams and so assemblies do not take place. If you are a provider and would like to enquire on the availability of assembly slots please email our CEIAG lead on the details below to request a CEIAG visitor booking form and complete the assembly request section.

If a provider is unable to attend these events or feels that their presentation needs require different circumstances or that they are hosting an event they wish to promote, in the first instance they should contact CEIAG lead at X school ????? via email ?????@xschool.co.uk and complete a CEIAG visitor booking form.

The CEIAG visitor booking form asks for the role of the training, vocational or apprenticeship provider you represent, the aim of the presentation, if the request is for an assembly slot, the number of students the presentation or session is designed for, the length of the talk or presentation, the target year group for the session or presentation, what display or other facilities the session would require, how many provider staff (and names of staff) that will be visiting and what support from school staff you would require on the day. If the email is notification of an event at an off site venue, please include timings of the day, a list of other invited schools and providers, any accessible funding streams for transport costs and a visit risk assessment of the venue.

All requests should be emailed at least 6 weeks (a school half term) in advance an expected date for the planned session. All requests will be given due consideration be X school’s CEIAG lead and Senior Leadership link and requests will be refused if:

  • they impinge on students preparation for public or internal exams
  • they clash with other school events such as visits, other speakers, well-being days, school photographs, sports days, public or internal exams, parents communication events etc
  • the school is unable to provide staff to support the presentation or talk due to previous commitments
  • rooming for the talk or event is unable to be found due to timetabling clashes

Responses to requests will come from the school CEIAG lead. For requests that are approved, School X will provide clear instructions before the event on visitor parking, visitor registration, a contact member of staff and their contact details, the teaching room or school hall to be used at the session and the presentation facilities this space offers.

As part of School X’s wider CEIAG policy, the range of Careers provision for students is reported every academic year to the school governing body and Headteacher.

If you have questions regarding this or School X’s wider CEIAG policy document please do not hesitate to contact our CEIAG lead at ?????@xschool.co.uk

That may seem an overly officious document which would probably elicit a weary sigh from a colleague at a vocational provider wishing to visit schools but that includes all of the information the new Clause requires from schools. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, comments and suggestions in the comments below.

For both schools and Vocational training providers, navigating these policies may provide clarity on how to gain access to each school in their area but it may also be a spur to improve on the local relationships and networks mentioned above that are he real solution to this issue.

An example of misguided CEIAG blaming

As someone who likes keeping up to date with CEIAG policy changes and events, I read a lot of articles both in the mainstream and specialist media who give CEIAG a right good thwacking.

If it’s a think piece on the latest terrible social mobility stats, make sure to include a bash of CEIAG in schools.

300 words on the lack of esteem parents hold for vocational courses, make sure to include a swing at school CEIAG.

Are you a business owner baffled by the low number of young people starting apprenticeships, then Careers advice in schools is surely your issue.

Most of these type of articles will include a reference to the (now four years old) Ofsted report “Going in the right direction” on the standards of careers guidance provision in secondary schools to show the research has been done but not many will point to more recent Ofsted publications that say things are improving.

And, the bit that stings, is they usually have a point. An overblown point that fails to acknowledge other deficiencies in the system such as low apprenticeship pay, the poor reputation of vocational qualifications and the fact that demand for apprenticeships vastly outstrips supply but still a point.

This open goal for journalists and freelancers looking to add a few more shares and likes from the education community ready to reconfirm their suspicions that CEIAG is naff can sometimes be missed though.

A recent(ish) article in the Guardian spoiled what was a well researched round-up of the current CEIAG landscape by over reaching on it’s causality to what inspired the article in the first place.

Young people need to be better equipped for the world of work. This is something that schools and government agree on, but there have been frequent criticisms of the careers information they provide.

Last week a report for the Social Mobility Commission found that children from poorer backgrounds face a “class earnings penalty” when they enter the workplace. And a recent Ofsted report found that of 40 schools, just four were providing adequate careers advice to their students.

Which, on the face of it, seems like a fair connection to make, that is, until you read that section of the actual report.

social mobility report3

So let’s be clear on what those findings mean. An employee, despite having the same levels of education and experience doing the same job as a colleague earns over £2000 less a year because they come from a working class background.

The researchers found this pay difference is more pronounced social mobility report4

when they looked at difference aspects of the class divide but the fact that it remains when all of the factors are controlled for is remarkable.

The report goes on to speculate on some of the possible reasons for this finding on the “supply side”

As previous work suggests, the mobile may specialise in less lucrative areas (Cook, Faulconbridge, and Muzio 2012; Ashley 2015), may be more reluctant to ask for pay raises, have less access to networks facilitating work opportunities (Macmillan, Tyler, and Vignoles 2015), or in some cases even exclude themselves from seeking promotion because of anxieties about “fitting in” (Friedman 2015).

and the “demand side”

they are either consciously or unconsciously given fewer rewards in the workplace than those from more advantaged backgrounds. This may manifest as outright discrimination or snobbery (Friedman et al 2016), or it may have to do with more subtle processes of favouritism or ‘culturalmatching’, whereby elite employers misrecognise social and cultural traits rooted in middle class backgrounds as signals of merit and talent (Rivera, 2015; Ashley, 2015).

Which is where the link to CEIAG in schools falls down. While the supply side characteristics are qualities that (to different extents) public sector intervention in the form of CEIAG can contest the demand side factors are beyond our sphere. And it’s those practices which, only through fundamental changes of attitude and practice in the workplace, will progress be made on discrimination against employees from working class backgrounds.

 

 

 

16/17 KS4 leavers and apprenticeship schemes

Now that we are a way into the 2016/2017 academic calendar it is a good time to look at a huge test for how the worlds of education and business interact over the coming months.

This academic years Key Stage 4 leavers will be the first to receive their GCSE grades in English Language, English Literature and Maths in the new grading system of 9 – 1. How this compares to the historic A-G grading system is show below

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As the description says, this means that 16/17 leavers will receive a mixture of 9-1 and A-G grades from their GCSE qualifications. Students may also be taking Btec L2s (which report as Distinction, Merit, Pass) and other qualifications such as the much maligned ECDL so will also have different grading schemes in their set of results.

So, a student opening their results envelop in August 2017 might see something like this (from this Ofqual PP):

ofqual1

This will continue for 17/18 leavers as more GCSEs such as Art, the Sciences, Drama & Geography are accredited in the new manner and then into 18/19 as subjects such as Sociology, D&T & Engineering join them.

The wider impact of these changes throughout the systems of education and employment dependent on understanding the context of those grade indicators could be messy. Getting the message through about the changes to students and their parents is a challenge in itself and one which Ofqual has been keen to gain help from schools but the bigger challenge remains of explaining this to employers. Hints at the scale of the communication challenge can be found in the employer response to the forthcoming apprenticeship levy

If a new funding system that will directly impact a company’s bottom line and their immediate training pipeline is struggling to gain widespread understanding then a seemingly (to those outside education) superficial change to GCSE grading is a difficult concept to gain traction. As anybody working in careers in schools will attest, many speakers from employers still come into school and wish the students good luck in their “O Levels.”

This lack of understanding has immediate impacts. Over the past few and forthcoming weeks many of the school leaver and apprenticeship schemes from larger employers will begin to be advertised for September 2017 starts.

The Airbus Group Engineering Apprenticeships, the Glaxo SmithKline Engineering Apprenticehips and the Manufacturing Apprenticeship at Selex Leonardo are all open for applications at the time of writing (November 2017). All three schemes are for September or Summer 2017 starts, all three are open to applicants who will be leaving Key Stage 4 in summer 2017 and all 3 ask for A-C GCSE requirements.

quals1

Not a mention of 9-1 grades. Yet many of the opportunities at larger employer require applicants to apply via the employers own website where, on the GSK site, the 9-1 scale is mentioned:

quals2

These are just a few examples of the many schemes that will be opened to 16/17 leavers over the next few months. It may add complexity but HR managers need to be including the new grading system in their job descriptions and adverts to smooth applications from younger students. Otherwise mixed messages and the inflexibility of drop down menus on online applications holds potential to discourage and confuse 16/17 leavers and parents from engaging with apprenticeship routes.

In recent years, business organisations have successfully positioned business as a sphere that is keen to engage with education, dissatisfied with the current skills on offer from young workers and with the ability to rapidly react to change. Publications such as the annual CBI Education & Skills survey place the emphasis on what business requires from education. Well, over this application season building up to the summer results, education needs a rapid and clear response from business.

 

 

Apprenticeships & KS4 &KS5 students from ethnic minority backgrounds

Released this week was a slew of data on the destinations of 2015 Key Stage 4 & 5 leavers that provides nerds like me hours of interesting noodling about in excel. There’s plenty to get through, not only focusing on the number of students taking up each type of route but also on the characteristics of those students.

This post looks at the trend from the data (now going back to 2010, although breakdowns that include ethnicity only start in 2012) in the percentages of  KS4 & 5 leavers of different ethnicities going into apprenticeships. The charts below detail both the percentage of all leavers in that year accessing apprenticeships and the percentage of students from each named ethnic background accessing apprenticeships.

ks4-apprenticeship-destinations

ks5-apprenticeship-destinations

The first thing to notice is that these percentages are comparatively small compared to other routes. The 6% of KS4 students starting apprenticeships is well below the 38% starting an FE College and another 38% starting a school Sixth-Form. That 6% equates to approximately 34,000 young people while the 7% of KS5 leavers equates to approximately 25,400 students from this age group.

For all the talk from policy makers as apprenticeships solving youth employment concerns, it is largely the growth of 25+ apprenticeship starts that has allowed the previous Government’s target of 2 million to be reached. The starts of those under 19 are inching up, as evidenced by the slow growth in the Total bars in the chart above and this chart

apprenticeships-blog-post-1

from The House of Commons Library.

and this year 130,000 under 19s commenced an apprenticeship. This is more than double the (approx) 50,400 combine leavers above which shows that many young people are accessing apprenticeships after the first two terms (the definition used by the destination statistics) after leaving their KS4 & KS5 providers.

What seems to be happening though is that the apprenticeship route is failing to find much growth with students from ethnic minority backgrounds straight out of school and college. While their White peers are eking up the percentage of students from that background pursuing this route, the percentage of black or Asian students is either stalled or lagging behind.

This is not to say that the numbers of students from these backgrounds taking apprenticeships has not increased, it has

apprenticeships-blog-post-2

but that, as a percentage of the total number of students from each of those backgrounds leaving KS4 & KS5, their progression is being outpaced by their White counterparts.

The reasons for this are going to be numerous and complex for different groups.

In Luton we have a diverse student cohort drawn from the local community and this wider trend in apprenticeship progression is reflected in the 2015 destination figures of the town. Of the four schools with highest percentage of students whose first language is not English (from Icknield High School at 64.9% to Denbigh High at 94.6%), only one reaches a 4% progression rate to apprenticeships while the figures of two of the others are so small they are suppressed to protect confidentiality. There is an attainment factor in play here, all four of those schools are in the top six in the town for academic progress. 86% of Denbigh’s leavers progressed to the local Sixth-Form college. The reasons for this huge majority are not only that these students (and their families) see this route as desirable but that the grades they have achieved make that route available. We also know that, comparably, white working class students (particularly boys) underachieve in their academic progress and so, find academic routes Post 16 harder to access. Does this mean that this ethnic group has fewer routes to pursue, so a greater percentage opt for apprenticeships?

Is the fact that the majority of apprenticeships on offer are at qualifications levels perceived to be accessible to (slightly) lower academic achievers but not offering challenge or progression to higher academic achievers a dissuading factor?

apprenticeships-blog-post-3

Another favourite tactic from policy makers when discussing destinations is to revert to the safe waters of “a lack of aspiration” for low progression figures but I’ve blogged in the past about this is a sound bite hiding a more nuanced situation. Could it be that students from White backgrounds actually have greater social capital around apprenticeships and are more able to access the networks of support to gain a foothold into this route?

Whatever the reasons, it seems that schools and colleges are not currently impacting on the trend for students from Asian and Black backgrounds to access apprenticeships despite a current, diverse advertising campaign. The numbers of young people of all backgrounds accessing apprenticeships needs to increase but the messages are so far struggling to reach all of the students in our schools.

MP’s ask for student views on Apprenticeships; get some help, the odd crazy but mostly tumbleweed

(all post counts etc correct at the time of writing)

As part of their inquiry into Apprenticeships for 16-19 year olds the Education Select Committee have, to be fair to them, tried to be proactive and reach out beyond the usual suspects to gain views from both actual apprentices and their peers in this age group by hosting a number of threads on studentroom.co.uk

They’ve posted 4 threads:

1) Where you told about about Apprenticeships as part of your careers guidance?

Which has 9 actual replies including the helpful from recent school leavers who all reinforce the line that Apprenticeships were offered as an option for students with expected lower grades and the not so helpful (“I was shipped off to fight in **** holes across the world. So, no.” – ok chief, thanks for that).

2) Who should provide information about Apprenticeships?

Which has a small number of contributions from 4 posters who all suggest that there should be a central online portal for young people to access apprenticeship vacancies. The marketing team at NAS, to the back of the class with you immediately.

3) What did you get out of your Apprenticeship?

Currently overflowing with the grand total of 3 responses, all of which has positive feedback from posters regarding their Apprenticeship experience but perhaps the lack of response to this question might reinforce what the Committee already knows. There just aren’t that many young people completing Apprenticeships.

4) Why do an Apprenticeship? What puts people off?

Compared to the others this thread is Times Square on New Years Eve. Over 3 pages of comments ranging from the thoughtful (“A degree is for life, not just for one business”), to the very well informed to positive views from employers but throughout a common complaint about the perception of the low level of pay recurs, perhaps summed up best by this comment:

They are seen as being low paid, because nobody realises/cares about the qualifications. More needs to be done to highlight the issue. Going to uni gets paid nothing (well, you get a loan to pay back, and sometimes grants) but most people don’t say they’d be better off working in Tesco than getting a degree.

But I think this is part of a wider problem, in that unless you have parents to support you an apprenticeship is not an option. You’re generally not eligible for a student bank account with overdraft, and can’t live in student accommodation. Some apprenticeships will provide accommodation, but probably most don’t. So for people from low-income families it’s unrealistic – their family can’t support them whilst they earn £2 an hour.

I hope that what little response they’ve had through this route doesn’t put the Committee off in future trying to access young people’s views using non traditional routes like this and the small nuggets of insight they have received are useful in guiding their recommendations.

2 million Apprenticeship starts

There was lots of news and buzz this morning as BiS announced that the 2 millionth apprenticeship had started since the last general election.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has revealed that 16-year-old Paige McConville became the 2 millionth apprentice when she started an advanced apprenticeship at high-tech engineering firm FMB Oxford in August.

Many congratulations should go to Paige for securing what, I would assume, would be a very sought after position.

It would be fair to say though that, as a young, female apprentice in a STEM industry attempting to redress a gender imbalance, she does make the lives of the press release team at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills extremely, shall we say, easy.

It’s worth pointing out that, in 13/14, Under 19 Advanced Level Apprenticeship starts were 34,800 out of a total of Under 19 starts of 117,800.

apprenticeship startsWhich makes Paige as an Under 19 start one of the (just over) 27% of total starts and, as an Under 19 Advanced Level starter, one of (just over) 8% of total starts. Kick back BiS PR team, your work here is done.