ceiag policy

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.

Just what is the truth about the scale of school + business interaction?

Education is like all other areas of public policy in that there are always plenty of people offering plenty of solutions. As any practitioner in the field will tell you, many of those suggested solutions can take more inspiration from the ideals of the proposer rather than the actual state of affairs on the ground and, sometimes, even getting a clear enough picture of the state of affairs on the ground can be tricky enough.

With this in mind I thought it would be useful to compare and contrast five (semi) recent surveys and reports that are actually attempting to do just that in regard to the scale and scope of the links currently held between schools and the world of business. This is a hot policy potato with the Government having already prescribed the medicine with early steps of the newly formed £20m Careers Company expected in September.

So, what do we think we know:

1. REPORT: Inspiring Growth: Pearson/CBI Education & Skills Survey 2015

SCALE: “The survey was conducted online in the spring of 2015. Useable responses were received from 310 employers”

HEADLINE STATISTICS: 

The positive balance of firms expecting to need more employees with higher skills stands at +65% in 2015

55% Employers not confident of being able to recruit sufficient high-skilled employees in the future

Around two thirds (66%) of the businesses responding to this survey are involved in apprenticeships

By far the most important factors employers weigh up when recruiting school and college leavers are attitudes (85%) and aptitudes (58%). These rank well ahead of formal qualifications

A majority of businesses remain concerned about the preparation of school leavers in important areas including business and customer awareness (66%), self-management (61%) and foreign language skills (60%)

Across respondents as a whole, three quarters (73%) have at least some links with schools or colleges, with connections most widespread between businesses and secondary schools (55%) and FE colleges (53%)

The biggest obstacles to extending and deepening business involvement are uncertainty over how to make work experience worthwhile (28%), lack of interest among schools or pupils (25%) and problems in fitting involvement with the school timetable (23%)

Among employers with links to schools and colleges, the two most common forms of support are offering work experience placements (74%) and providing careers advice and talks (71%).

The overwhelming majority of employers believe the quality of careers advice for young people is not good enough (by a balance of -70%)

Nearly two thirds of businesses (60%) report that they are willing to play a greater role in supporting careers provision in schools and colleges.

SUMMARY QUOTES: 

Katja Hall – Deputy Director General CBI

“Of course, the long-term solution to the skills challenge lies in education, and some of the reforms in recent years have brought improvements. But we still have a system where too many young people are allowed to fall behind and never catch up. The system must change, with more focus on developing the aptitudes and attributes that set young people up for success in both work and life – which matter much more to employers when recruiting than academic results alone.

More and more businesses are playing their part – engaging with schools, colleges and universities and investing in workforce training – though there is a need for more. But government at all levels also needs to raise its game in helping young people to develop the higher skills and workplace readiness that are increasingly necessary to ensure a prosperous future for them and for the UK as a whole.”

COMMENT:

As you would expect from the CBI, this is a document that places high demands and expectations on the public sector while also showing its members in the private sector in the best possible light. Considering that, in England, around only 8% of employers offer apprenticeships, the fact that 66% of respondents to this survey are “involved” shows how selective the base of employers involved here was. The expectations and demands on the education sector are in many cases clear and sensible but the bemoaning of too many students not achieving C grades or above in either English or Maths shows a clear lack of understanding of how Ofqual’s comparable outcomes system works. The clear messages from the results show employers are frustrated with the overwhelming focus on qualifications to the detriment of soft skills they value even more should be very useful to add more power to the elbow of those pushing for a more rounded approach from school leaders. Also the percentage of respondents who are already involved and wish to increase their involvement in schools is very positive.

2. REPORT: Mapping careers provision in schools & colleges in England DfE July 2015 research report

SCALE: In total, there were 107 responses to the survey, a response rate of 21%. The response came from a range of providers: 34 schools with sixth forms, 34 schools without sixth forms and 39 further education providers.

HEADLINE STATISTICS:

Schools without sixth forms were more likely to offer work experience to Years 10 to 11 (88%) compared to schools with sixth forms (74%) and more colleges provided work experience to Years 12 and 13 (90%) compared to schools with sixth forms (71%)

Lecturer or industry specialist visits were more commonly used for Years 10 to 11 in schools without sixth forms (94%, versus 77% of schools with sixth forms)

The majority (88%) of respondents reported that students received skills development or employability education (e.g. time management, interview preparation) in the form of lessons/class time.

methods for contacting people who work july 2015

In terms of creating formal arrangements with employers for work experience, the response was mixed. Over half of respondents said that their institution did not have these in place (54%), with the remainder (46%) stating that they did have such arrangements with employers.

SUMMARY QUOTES:

Budget limitations were most commonly reported to be a key challenge to providing excellent careers provision that meets the needs of staff, students and parents/carers.

Nearly all institutions helped students to gain contact with employers to learn about careers/jobs. This was through a range of methods, common ones being, external employer speakers, lecturers or industry specialists visiting schools/colleges, workplace visits and work experience. These links were more likely to be offered to older year groups (Year 10 onwards). Some institutions did not use these methods at all, 13% said they did not provide workplace visits and 8% said they did not provide work experience

COMMENTS:

If the findings from the CBI data are potentially skewed by the small number of already invested respondents, then this report is even more in danger of falling into that trap. To be fair, it is something the authors are at pains to point out throughout the document,

As with any self-reported assessment, we should exercise a degree of caution as to whether the respondents would have a particularly positive or representative view of the provision within their school, since careers guidance was a significant part of their job.

Even with these dangers of too positive a response, this did not dissuade the TES in finding a negative slant in their story on it.

With these large caveats there are some positive figures, the survival of KS4 work experience surprised me and the range of employer interaction is great to see, but ultimately I am extremely hesitant about standing firm on any of the results as a stand alone piece of work.

3. REPORT: CDI Survey of Career Education and Guidance in Schools and Links with Employers May 2015

SCALE: From an online survey: “A total of 319 responses were received, which represents 10% of all secondary schools in England. Just under a half (46%) were from academies with a sixth form and a further 10% were from academies without a sixth form; 27% were from local authority maintained schools (16% with a sixth form, 11% without a sixth form); eight percent of the responses were from independent schools. The remaining responses came from special schools (5), sixth form colleges (5), UTCs (3) and a studio school, free schools (2) and a pupil referral unit.”

Although some questions did have a large percentage of non responses.

HEADLINE STATISTICS:

24% of respondents used a member of staff, more often someone who was not a teacher. Five schools responded to say that they did not provide access to impartial career guidance and a further 24% of respondents skipped this question in the survey.

66% of respondents reported that the person providing impartial career guidance held a recognised professional qualification in career guidance, but in only 57% of cases was the qualification at QCF Level 6 or above

17% of all respondents used a local or regional education-business partnership (EBP) to help broker links with employers and 32% used Inspiring the Future or other link organisations.Over 40% of respondents said they organised all the links themselves, and 35% omitted to respond to the question.

In 56% of respondents a member of the senior leadership group had overall responsibility for career education and guidance but in only 35% was there a senior leader with overall responsibility for school-business links.

37% of respondents reported having a link governor for careers and employer links.

SUMMARY QUOTES:

From the press release:

Worryingly, the survey indicates that now career education is no longer compulsory, up to a third of schools have dropped it from the curriculum, and a larger proportion have no career education in the early years of secondary education

Many, but by no means all, schools are making impartial career guidance available to at least those students identified as needing support but in over 40% of the schools that responded to the survey the interviews are not provided by an adviser qualified to Level 6.

Schools are providing a wide range of employer activities but many would welcome more support with identifying relevant contacts and organising activities.

COMMENTS:

Like Report number 2, this includes responses from only the education side of the fence but still strikes a better balance between highlighting some positive work (the range of employer interaction) and voicing concerns about the outcomes that they disapprove of (the falling amount of dedicated careers education time and the number of practitioners not qualified to Level 6 standard). The high percentage of non responses to some questions does cause me to pause though. It is a natural tendency to assume that a lack of a submitted answer means the respondent did not want to include a negative truth but as the aims of the survey are to, “inform the work of the new independent careers and enterprise company recently established by the Department for Education (DfE) as it prepares its initial work plan” getting this right is a must. The Careers Company has the relatively meager budget of £20m to make an impact and allocating its resources should rely on more than assumptions. Again, like Report 2, the results are better placed as part of a wider context.

4. REPORT: Understanding the link between employers and schools and the role of the National Careers Service – BiS December 2014

SCALE: Survey data were collected from 301 employers and from 98 educational establishments (78 schools and 20 colleges). Whilst the sampling was not representative, data provide vivid indications of patterns and trends illustrative of the types of interactions currently existing between schools and employers. Survey data were supplemented by in-depth interviews with career representatives in 12 schools/colleges selected from the survey sample. Additionally, six case studies were undertaken on schools/colleges from the sample of 12 to provide detailed examples of good practice

HEADLINE STATISTICS:

employer engagement bis report Dec 2014

school engagement with employers Dec 2014

SUMMARY QUOTES:

Of all employers surveyed, nearly half had previously been engaged with schools/ colleges. Employers who offered apprenticeship or other types of training to young people were more likely to engage with schools/colleges and there is some evidence that larger companies were more likely to engage with schools/colleges than smaller companies. The most frequently mentioned types of engagement were work experience and/or visits from school or college students. Altruistic reasons were the most important for engaging with schools/colleges, with employers thinking that it was a ‘good thing to do’, and/or that it facilitated local community engagement.

More than half of all engaged employers had undertaken some type of activity in the last half-year. Main reasons for a lack of more regular engagement were threefold: lack of time and resources; unwillingness of schools (unable or not interested); and the age restriction preventing employment of staff under the age of 18 years. Approximately half of all engaged employers indicated that these activities had not had any benefit to their business.

Approximately half of all employers surveyed had never engaged with schools or colleges. Nearly all indicated that they were not interested in linking with schools or colleges in the future, because of lack of time and resources; financial reasons, and/or barriers created by health and safety and insurance regulations. Some stated that they could not see any potential benefit to their businesses of this activity.

COMMENTS:

So we come to the only survey whose methodology tasked it with gaining views from both sides of the conundrum. The mix of survey and interview results allows for both some headline percentages and some longer form answers to emerge across the reports 140 (!) pages. The most striking aspect of the findings is how well they agree with the answers from one side (education) and much they disagree with the results from the other (business). It would seem that asking CEIAG folk in schools gets you a pretty positive picture about the work they do. Who would guess? On the other hand, the large disparity between the amount of employers involved in engagement activities (and those wanting to be involved) in these findings and the CBI results is noticeable. From a similar number of employers, the differences are pretty big; the CBI says 74% offered work experience while here only 32%, the CBI says 71% had performed careers talks while here the figure is a measly 7%.

5. REPORT: UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey 2013: UK Results – January 2014

SCALE: Fieldwork for the core survey was undertaken between March and July 2013, and involved over 91,000 interviews. Fieldwork for the follow-up Investment in Training Survey was undertaken in May to July 2013, and involved more than 13,000 interviews with employers who had taken part in the first survey. An overall response rate of 44 per cent was achieved for the core survey.

HEADLINE STATISTICS/SUMMARY QUOTES:

The main obstacle to (more) young people getting new jobs is competition in the market place. Half of recruiting employers who had not recruited young job applicants had opted instead for older candidates who were better placed; in this instance young people who applied for these jobs may have been suitable, but the recruiters opted for a candidate over the age of 25 to fill the role. Where young applicants were not considered to meet the requirements of the role, the main reasons cited were lack of skills and experience, and sometimes both. Three in five recruiting employers (61 per cent) who had not recruited a young person said they had had no applications from young people.

Most employers find the education leavers they take on to be well or very well prepared for work, although as many as four in ten employers taking on school leavers at 16 from schools in England, Northern Ireland or Wales described the recruits as poorly prepared

Where employers considered young applicants not to meet requirements, the majority (63 per cent) said they lacked the necessary skills and 61 per cent relevant work experience. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) said they lacked both.

COMMENTS: 

This is a huge piece of work and covers a much wider remit than just school/employer interaction which is why the Executive Summary is such a godsend. It is the oldest of the reports as the scale of the survey means it is only carried out every two years and data is currently being collected for the next one.

What it does add to this post though is a scale of respondents not seen in all of the other reports and a divergent view. The much more positive view (still with room for improvements) of the employability skills of young people from employers is at odds with the more downbeat findings of the CBI. The context around these findings and the steps that should be taken to improve the chances of young people finding work were covered brilliantly in this blog at the time. If it’s work experience they lack, offer young people the chance to gain it. As we’ve seen, the CBI says the business community is doing this, the education community and the report from BiS seem less convinced.

OVERALL:

As I hope you’ve seen, finding the balance of truth in all of this is tricky. Out of five reports, only one bridges the divide between employers and schools and spoke to both sides of the fence. Where only one side was consulted, the simplistic take is that the home view is always that most things are rosey and there is plenty of goodwill to find further improvements. Of course it’s not that simple, the CDI report is not afraid to point out where it thinks schools are failing and the CBI report consistently says that businesses should be doing more to work with education. Perhaps though the lesson for policy makers should be that, when making policy decisions in this area in future, they should be more demanding for data work that bridges the divide and takes views from a balance across both sides of the employers/schools fence.

Young people, CEIAG and the 2015 Election

As we continue to steam roll into 2015 I wanted to take a look at how CEIAG might play a part in, what will no doubt be, one of the biggest events of the year; the General Election. #GE2015. Indecision 2015. However it will come to be termed, current polling suggests the 2015 election promises to be a muddle of epic proportions as the first past the post system grinds to a halt of probable coalition in the face of general voter distrust of elected members and entrenched division between areas of the country.

CEIAG as an area of state provision covers multiple policy issues that politicians hope people consider when deciding their vote. Education and employability skills, job availability and opportunities for promotion, the wider economy and social mobility would be all areas of policy advocates would say CEIAG would impact positively. To what extent careers education and guidance is in voter’s minds when they are expressing satisfaction or concern about any of those issues is open to debate (none to minimal, I would guess) but, if I take for granted that I’m preaching to the converted on the importance of CEIAG, I thought it would be interesting to see where it might align with voter’s concerns and how this is influencing politicians.

Of course, the school age client group where most of the recent focus on the lack of careers provision has come are too young to vote. Even with Labour’s promise to lower the voting age to 16, 2015 is a battle that will shape their future but in which they will have no say. Even so, all parties know that Education is an important policy area for parents and so have obfuscated their funding plans for this area behind terms (Tory: “the cash sum that follows your child into the school will not be cut” Labour: “The next Labour government will protect the overall education budget“) that they hope will woo votes but in reality both these Conservative and Labour pledges equate to a cut in funding. When reports are clearly stating that improving CEIAG will need increased funding, this isn’t a good start.

We do know that parents are increasingly keen for their children to stay in education Post 16 (fig 4.4)

parents post 16 intentions

 

so policies that improve the chances of making successful transitions at 16 would be welcomed by those with voting power.

Overall though, it appears that the parents surveyed there do have different priorities to younger generations. The “grey vote” is focussed on

The current NHS crisis appears to be a key concern for older people as 86% said that politicians should be focussing on health and social care. 79% of over-55s highlighted tackling terrorism, compared to 69% who want political leaders to focus on the economy. Concerns surrounding pensions and savings were highlighted by 51% of those surveyed.

It’s very different for younger people

 

The high priority those in the 18-25 age bracket place on issues such as living costs, unemployment, the gap between the rich and poor and tuition fees shows that the transition from education to employment and those tricky first steps into the labour market play heavy on their mind. To those struggling to make headway in a post 2008 jobs market, the media’s political obsessions of the EU and immigration must seem like concerns from a different world.

As this age group are the recent and soon to be leavers from full-time and higher education they should be, in theory, those most able to access a structured CEIAG offer. Support that addresses their concerns, you would imagine, would be welcomed by this cohort.

That does not automatically mean though that politicians will be writing their manifestos with these concerns at the top of their promise list. Young people are notoriously reticent to actually vote compared to older demographics who do so in far greater numbers.

chart

 

It’s estimated that around 3 million youth votes are either undecided or up for grabs this time around and polling from that age group shows a significant shift in the parties they would vote for.

But even if all of these potential younger voters did tick a box in May, as the linked Telegraph article above notes,

According to the ONS, there are 5.9 million people aged between 18 and 24. But there are 11.1 million people aged 65 and over.

Yes, old people are more likely to vote. But there are also lots more of them. And since democracy often comes down to a numbers game, it will take more than increased turnout among the young to end the political dominance of the old. Sorry, kids.

so it might not be enough to force their concerns to suddenly be addressed with any greater urgency.

Which all clearly explains why policies such as triple lock pensions, pensioner bonds and universal pensioner benefits such as the Winter Fuel Allowance are political no go areas when cuts are being discussed by the Conservatives. It’s frankly staggering then that the YouGov/Anchor Trust polling quoted above also shows that only 13% of grey voters think politicians represent their views.

The two parties that the younger demographics are putting their support behind have so far made, what would be called at best, tentative proposals for policies under the CEIAG umbrella. Labour has indicated that it would reintroduce mandatory key stage 4 work experience and Tristram Hunt has included his wish to improve careers advice in speeches. The education policies of the Green Party meanwhile include no mention of careers advice and the transition from education to work is only covered with more general ideals such as the need for clear vocational routes at 14 and their desire for much greater life long learning opportunities.

The incumbent parties meanwhile have their own projects in this policy area. The Conservatives plan to expand the Apprenticeship program but will cut both wider and targeted benefits for 18-21 year olds to fund it. Considering how the numbers of current Apprenticeships have skewed towards older workers, the net £ loss to this age group would probably be larger than the initial reading of the headline suggests. Tories would also point to the new Careers company that will be up and running in spring 2015 as evidence of their plans for CEIAG over the next parliament. For the Lib Dems, the ongoing funding of £2.5 billion for the pupil premium will take centre stage of their offer for education.

With the meat on the bones of the party manifestos still to come, all of this leaves CEIAG in a forlorn place. As a policy area, it offers possible links and solutions to issues that mostly concern voters who don’t vote and, even if they did, it’s likely that any intergenerational battle for political supremacy would be won by the sheer number of older folk. You might conclude then that any interested parties who believed that any substantial investment in CEIAG could be a solution to the issues young people see as facing them, have a huge job of persuasion on their hands: to convince older voters to not just vote on their own concerns.

Updated Sept 2014: School Governors and the CEIAG Statutory Duty

I’ve posted previously about the guidance School Governors received from the DfE on their role in implementing the CEIAG Statutory Duty. With the event of a new term has come updated guidance for Governors and a small but noteworthy change of tone in the CEIAG section.

Last year the relevant section read:

3.2 Careers guidance
Maintained schools must secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance
on the full range of education or training options, including apprenticeships. This
requirement applies to pupils in years 8-13. Funding agreements for academies which
opened from September 2012 onwards generally include an equivalent careers
requirement. We have written to all academies which opened before September 2012 to
encourage them to take on the requirement. The governing body must reassure itself that
the requirement to secure careers guidance from an external source, in the form that best
meets the needs of their pupils, is being met. Schools must have regard to statutory
guiance (sic) underpinning the duty, which makes it clear that links with employers are
particularly important in securing careers provision that inspires young people to consider
a broader range of options.

While this year it reads (P47):

governors ceiag duty

The clear added emphasis is that now Governors should be taking a proactive approach to be involved in the securing of provision for students, not just checking and monitoring that school staff are doing this.

Hat-tip to @CEGNETUK for flagging this up.

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.

Careers work in schools has a literacy blindspot

A recent report from the National Literacy Trust attempted to shine a light into the dark space between statistics that show improving English GCSE grades across the country and yet employers surveys still showing dissatisfaction in the literacy skills of young recruits and applications and, at the heart of the issue, how young people themselves view the relationship between their own Literacy skills and their employability potential.

The report attempts to bridge the rhetoric between what employers actually demand in Literacy skills, which of these skills the recent curriculum equips school leavers with and how current changes to assessment and curriculum could impact this. For me, the report isn’t very strong on identifying the reasons behind the mismatching opinions of young people of whom a large majority realise that “communication skills” will be fundamental to their future potential but then struggle to see how the traditional skills of writing and comprehension are beneficial to this future. It will come as no surprise to any English teacher that the two topics of English study that students claim not to the see the relevance of would be the same ones many students would find the toughest to master, especially as so few of them are unwilling to flex those particular learning muscles outside of school. It seems obvious that young people should be under no doubt, through the lessons they are taught and the interactions with employers they have, that these skills, no matter how hard they seem, are worth the effort.

There is a gaping black hole in provision here which the CEIAG community and organisations seem reluctant to impose on. Far from only signposting courses or enabling career discovery, careers work aimed at this age group should surely empower learners by clearly decoding for them the expectations the gatekeepers of business and the worlds of work they wish to one day explore will have of them. Maybe because these expectations cover so many skills they have historically been so poorly communicated by business leaders that schools themselves are investigating to properly define them but the regular wish for greater literacy standards does cut across the divide as a clear expectation.

Where is the drive and focus from the sector to address this blindspot? At a time when the Minister for Education clearly isn’t convinced (to put it mildly) of the worth of the sector what better time to make ourselves relevant to the national discourse by offering resources that enable students to improve their writing and comprehension through employment and work related activities. Diaries to complete after work experience placements requiring reflection on the skills they gained and displayed, marketing and advertising briefs set by real life companies for real life products, customer brochures for new products, scenarios with contract disputes, even tasks on questionnaire design to show how different language choices can achieve very different results could all be examples of lesson plans offered on a website for teachers to utilise. The skills these lessons could cover are all pertinent to the new English Language GCSE to be taught from September 2015. There are already good free resources to aid spoken word communication skills such as the BT Moving On job interview series of lessons and accompanying videos but, to my knowledge, there does seem to be a dearth of provision for the writing and comprehension topics mentioned above. Of course, if I’m missing some fantastic resources out there please let me know in the comments!

This would require the careers sector to be the fulcrum of collaboration and facilitation with teaching groups, national literacy organisations and business to ensure that the resources were of sufficient quality but what better way to move careers education out of the box of irrelevancy it has been placed into and make inroads into showing just how central to the work of schools it both could be and that business demands it to be.

10 things this Government has done which could improve CEIAG in schools

OOOOooooh, controversial headline but, hey, stick with me and hopefully, you might even agree with a few of the points!

1. Provided a policy focus on continuing Literacy and Maths until 18 

Recently this article

http://careers.theguardian.com/young-people-take-career-decisions-too-early

took a well argued stance that young people were being rushed through an education system that forced them to take decisions that greatly affected future career pathways too early. There’s much in that piece that provoked a nod in agreement from me as I would concur that a large number of young people leave school before finding their magnetic north to help guide their career route (if they ever do). Well, if we agree that a large number of young people are not making subject decisions at 14 and 16 with an identified career area in mind, then surely we should welcome the current Government’s policy focus on some subjects being important enough for all students to continue to study up until 18. While not limiting specialism, keeping a shared focus of literacy (for some) and maths (for all) will surely allow more students to move between career streams at higher ages.

2. Increased specialised routes for those who wish to take them at 14

For those youngsters that have settled on a distinct path early, this Government has increased the range of providers such as University Technical Colleges, Studio Schools and, from September, opened the opportunity for some students to enroll at FE Colleges from 14. The breadth of industries and career areas these pathways will cover is growing and will offer enticing and motivating routes for some students.

3. Given more freedom than ever before to Headteachers

Even with the spurious nonsense over the battle between Academy chain or Local Authority, school leaders at all kinds of schools have never had so much freedom over how they wish to run their institutions and are searching for programs and interventions that work. If we are convinced that good Careers work has positive outcomes with students, we should be at the front of the queue to persuade Senior Leaders to fund these programs in schools

4. Issued a Statutory Duty and follow-up guidance to shape Careers IAG in school

Whether or not you think the Duty is robust or comprehensive enough, it is there for all schools to follow and, combined with the sensible suggestions and examples of good practice in the subsequent Guidance, no school Leader should be under any confusion about what a good careers program looks like.

5. Cultivated a culture of “choice” & “competition” between schools

The implication of this worldview on the wider education of children tempts fierce debate but, purely in the context of CEIAG, it provides an opportunity. A more market based system requires schools to pay much more attention to marketing and reputation management. The positive outcomes and stories achieved by a good careers program offer much scope for Heads to take advantage of to get these messages across. Look how many of our students made successful transitions into Apprenticeships! Look at our students on this wonderful Oxbridge taster day! Look at our students in this engineering workshop run by a local company! You get the picture but this could be another persuasive weapon for establishing good career learning activities in school.

6. Published Destination Measures as part of the Performance table website

It has never been easier for all stakeholders to see if a school is enabling its leavers to make suitable, sustained transitions into future pathways. Schools with good career programs should be highlighting this data at every opportunity.

7. Enabled Ofsted to include a school’s CEIAG provision in their inspections

It would be fair to say that neither Dfe or Bis has had any influence over this decision by the regulator of schools but it’s happened under their watch so they get credit.

8. Enabled Ofqual to crack down on the practice of early and multiple entry in exams

http://news.tes.co.uk/news_blog/b/weblog/archive/2013/08/09/ofqual-to-get-tough-on-early-and-multiple-gcse-entries.aspx

Again, the Dfe has had no influence whatsoever over this decision. Despite it being the publicly expressed opinion of Gove numerous times. Nope, nope, nope. None. But for Careers workers in schools this will have two benefits. Firstly, more students will not just be satisfied to ‘bank’ a C as soon as they achieve it in the Core subjects in which this practice flourished but will continue to hope and work towards higher grades, thus improving the variety of pathways open to them for further study. Secondly, combined with the move to more terminal exams at the end of Year 11, the timetable will be freed up through Years 9 & 10 for (carefully planned of course) targeted careers work. The sudden boom in recent years of controlled assessment and the continual build up to end of module exams and resists has severely constricted the timetable to squeeze in career activities.

9. Set up a National Careers Service

Which does offer some services to young people.

10. Worked with the policy Advisory Group ‘The National Careers Council’

Which continues to advise The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and included much about school based careers work in its first report an Aspiration Nation

https://www.gov.uk/government/policy-advisory-groups/the-national-careers-council

Disclaimer time – I don’t necessarily believe that all of these interventions will be as successful or work out as the current administration intends and there are many, many more decisions they could have taken that, in my eyes, would have improved standards. But I did want to point out that much has happened to shape CEIAG work in schools and it is not always a case of light and dark, purely positive and purely negative with policy decisions. There is room for shade and, with hard work and inspiration from all involved in school CEIAG, there is potential to achieve positive outcomes for students within the framework that is now established.