September will see a change for schools and they “appoint” a Careers Leader as mandated by the Careers Strategy and the Guidance documents for Schools and Colleges. What structures or staffing models schools will adopt (or just rename) to meet this will vary widely both because the guidance allows them to
and because the funding squeeze will dictate that they will utilise the staff at their disposal.
For Colleges the guidance is tighter in the recommended structures to follow
The specificity of requiring a Vice Principal or Director to take on the role does make sense in a College context. They are usually larger organisations both in terms of learners requiring provision and members of staff to work with and sites to cover so most providers will employ a team with a Careers/Employability focus line-managed through their Student Services areas. Combined with the more vocational nature of the teaching & qualification offer (teachers will have their own industry expertise to also offer IAG as part of the main qualification) placing the role at a strategic level puts the onus on the institution to achieve the cross College buy-in sought by the CEC to build a joined up Careers programme rather than a standalone service that does not collaborate throughout the teaching areas. At this scale, this isn’t a one person job so the delivery and the leadership have to be split.
The more options available in the School guidance will lead to many non teaching, non Senior Leaders being assigned the “Careers Leader” or a version of option 1 in the image above. If these roles are rebadged Careers Co-ordinator or Careers Adviser position line-managed by a member of Senior Leadership or the Head Teacher then in these cases the Careers Leader is “Leader” in name only. The strategic oversight and direction of the Careers provision at the school will be lead by the member of staff on the Senior Leadership team line managing the practitioner doing the delivery. It is they who will feed into working groups across the school (curriculum, data, behaviour etc) as they will have more areas of responsibility and line-management duties for the delivery staff in those areas.
The guidance document acknowledges the possible downsides from this option
if senior leadership support is not in place, middle Careers Leaders can struggle to drive school-level change and successfully fulfill the coordination tasks which are part of the role.
and offers two case studies, one of which explains the link from the delivery practitioner to Senior Leadership
Cathy is not a trained teacher and whilst not formally designated as a middle leader, is effectively treated as one. For example, her line manager is the deputy head with whom she meets regularly.
and one that doesn’t
Leyla was responsible for all aspects of careers across the school, including contracts with external careers providers. The post was organised as a middle leader position and Leyla combined her role as Careers Leader with responsibilities for the business department and vocational education.
without explaining the conundrum of proposing the Leader as a “Senior” role whilst then offering examples of structures where it isn’t.
Allowing schools to farm off the “Careers Leader” job title onto staff not at a Senior enough level to inject and sustain a culture change throughout the school is not the hoped for consequence of implementing the Career Leaders policy. Before the Careers Strategy and CEC even existed, some schools had already reacted to the loss of Connexions by employing a non teaching member of staff to deliver their Careers provision. The lever the CEC is trying to pull through the establishment of the Careers Leader role and the accompanying guidance is to place CEIAG further up the food chain and closer to the heart of school decision-making and planning.
Careers Leaders are responsible and accountable for the delivery of their school’s programme of career advice and guidance. It is a senior role that requires the person doing it to have a clear overview of the school’s careers provision
This is what schools choosing Option 2 will be attempting to achieve but will certainly have to invest in delivery practitioners for their Careers provision to match their ambition whilst also refraining from allocating the title to a Senior Leader with a multitude of other strands to manage. The possible pitfalls of this Option are under-funding and under-staffing.
Multi-Academy Trusts choosing to implement Option 3 would also have to invest in delivery staff to offer provision across sites but should have their own Careers Team line-management structure.
Schools choosing the Option 1 structure will therefore deviate from Colleges and other schools in that they will be attempting to combine the roles of strategy and delivery into one role (that may or may not have Senior Leader support). Those named Leaders in a combined strategy/delivery role without Senior Leader support will find the job the hardest of all while those in a delivery role reporting to a member of SLT are the Leaders in name only described above. The separation of strategy and delivery roles encourages a team model and so is able to push the responsibility of CEIAG higher up the school staffing structure and so closer to the core strategy decisions.
In a previous post on this subject I’ve agreed with the CDI that the naming of a Careers Leader is not something to become too hung up on as
It matters less whether the tasks are undertaken by one member of staff or several, or whether the post is filled by a member of the teaching or non-teaching staff, and more that all the tasks are clearly assigned and that the personnel allocated the role(s) are enabled and supported to fulfil their responsibilities effectively
which still holds true as ultimately it is the outcomes for students which should determine the success of structures. What I am clearer on now though is that there are potential dangers in using a title that means different things in different providers and for financially hard pressed schools, the lure of changing a job title without reflecting on the purpose or remit of that role.