Education Committee

More proof that Ofsted is not the white knight for CEIAG provision

One of the repeatedly suggested levers to pull which would improve CEIAG provision in schools is monitoring from Ofsted. Stakeholders, reports and Education Select Committee recommendations have all suggested that a secondary school’s Careers provision should be judged upon by the Inspectorate. This came to pass with the introduction of instruction for Her Majesty’s Inspectors to include comment of the quality of CEIAG provision in the 2013 and 2014 Handbook for Inspectors. This was taken as a positive step in concentrating the minds of school leaders to prioritise their CEIAG provision. Things changed though with the introduction of Ofsted’s short, targeted inspections of schools currently rated GOOD (grade 2) in September 2015.

This changed the way a large number of schools were visited and assessed and is further explained here but essentially it raised fears that, in a short, one day inspection performed by one inspector for a GOOD school that then remained GOOD, CEIAG would not be inspected. The checklist of school duties for a team of four or five inspectors to monitor over a two-day period cannot be the same for one inspector to check in a one day visit. Ofsted’s workflow guidelines for inspecting a GOOD school reflected this with the requirement for a Section 8 inspection to be carried out instead of a full Section 5.

In it’s justification for this change, Ofsted (with some rationale) argued that, in a supposedly self improving school system, an inspectorate should be focusing its resources on where the system needs them most and that would be on schools graded as 3 or 4. This was in line with the previous move to stop inspecting grade 1 schools as a matter of course and only place them under the microscope if substantive concerns were raised. Others would point out that this was an inevitable consequence of an Inspectorate tasked with inspecting growing types of provision and establishments but with a reducing budget.

Earlier this month, Ofsted released both a consultation on how short inspections had worked and the statistics for the numbers of inspections, including short inspections, from September 2016 to March 2017.

Concentrating on secondary schools, a total of 287 short inspections were carried out, of which 201 schools remained GOOD.

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A total of 535 secondary schools were inspected during this period which means that around 37% of secondary school inspections were not even required to pass comment on CEIAG during the academic year.

Ofsted also notes that the number of short inspections that converted to full Section 5 inspections is lower than last year

Twenty nine per cent of short inspections between 1 September 2016 and 31 March 2017 converted to full inspections. In 2015/16, 35% converted.

So, as schools coalesce into the higher grade boundaries but find that OUTSTANDING rating just out of reach, it seems that fewer are undergoing a full Section 5 inspection.

The folks over at Education Data Lab have already done the work in totaling up these numbers to see the complete picture of inspections that have occurred since they were introduced in 2015.

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So, from a total of 530 short inspections of secondary schools, 55% in those 18 months would not have been required to offer a judgement on a school’s CEIAG provision.

The most recent Ofsted Annual Report (2015-1016) shows that more secondary schools than ever are being judged as good or outstanding

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a rise of 12 percentage points since 2011.

Both the rise in non converting short inspections and the exemption of inspection OUTSTANDING schools leading to 10 years between inspections in some cases

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means that

a) it is increasingly less likely that a school’s CEIAG provision will not be monitored during an inspection

b) it is increasingly likely that a judgement on CEIAG provision contained in an Ofsted report is from a school that previously held a grade 3 or 4

and so then

c) the headline trend of rising numbers of GOOD and OUTSTANDING schools offers no evidence to the quality of Careers provision in schools as the Careers provision in these schools will have either i) not have been inspected during the most recent inspection or ii) been inspected quite a number of years ago.

Under the current framework of inspection, Ofsted is no substantive barometer of the quality of Careers provision in schools now and, if the current trends continue, will only be more out of snyc with provision in the future.

 

 

 

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The outcome measures of the CEC

Now two years since it gained a Chief Executive and began to hire its network of staff, the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) released its 2nd Annual Round-up earlier this month. The report updates on the Company’s progress in expanding its networks of employer engagement and building it’s research base.

As with previous communications, the Round-up is a polished document full of the praises and progress the Company has made since it’s inception. I’ve posted previously on the difficulty on pinning the Company down on the exact numbers of Enterprise Advisers they have hired but this document does update an exact number.

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While, on the previous page, the less precise term is used for the number of schools enrolled in the scheme.

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If “more than” 1700 schools are signed up to the scheme does that mean that some schools are waiting for Enterprise Advisers to be matched with?

With the most recent DfE release showing that there are 3401 Secondary Schools and the AoC Key Facts showing 359 Further Education Colleges in England that means around 45% have now been paired with an Enterprise Adviser.

The Round Up continues to outline the progress and plans across four areas:

  1. Building local networks (Enterprise Advisers)
  2. Finding out what works (research)
  3. Backing proven ideas (investment funds)
  4. Providing online CEIAG resources (the Compass rating tool and the forthcoming Enterprise Passport)

Which are all full of detail on the admirable ambitions of the CEC. Much providence is given to the underlying research backing for this type of work provided by the studies from the Education & Employers Taskforce and the Gatsby Standards.

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This reliance on the evidence base is to be welcomed and the Taskforce is clear that quantity of engagements is vital to improved outcomes for young people.

  • Quantity matters: greater volume of school-mediated employer engagement is associated with better economic outcomes, demonstrating relationships between the number of school-mediated teenage engagements with employers recalled by young adults and significantly reduced incidence of being NEET.

What isn’t mentioned in the Round Up though is any judgement on the quality of those interactions which their networks have enabled. The Taskforce is also clear that this is a factor in the value of the outcomes achieved by young people

  • Quality matters: more highly regarded employer engagement is associated with better economic outcomes. Analysis presented here shows a consistent relationship between higher regard for school-mediated provision and adult economic outcomes.  It suggests that the instincts of young adults were right: that the schools had prepared them better than comparator peers. Wage premiums in excess of 20% are found linked to higher volumes of employer engagement activities described, in general terms, as having been helpful.

More provision matters but more provision students remember as being helpful really matters. Which shows that, as any practitioner who has run an event with a before & after student view questionnaire will know, evaluation of provision is a vital step in ongoing quality control. While this is something individual providers and organisations will (should) be doing to monitor their own impacts, it is not mentioned that the CEC is collating or monitoring this feedback.

This lack of information on the quality of provision is a hint at the lack of wider absence from the Round-up of outcomes for students, whether gleaned from qualitative or quantitative data.

In the announcement of its formation, the DfE said that the new Company would fulfill a number of remits including

  • provide feedback to government on how well young people are being prepared for work

This was expanded on by the then Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who at an Education Select Committee appearance on the 9th September 2015, said the Company would be judged by “asking young people at the end of this academic and going forward, where they aware of all the options, when did they receive advice, who came into their school to tell them about all the options” and by asking employers “are young people more work ready, more aware of the options that are out there” and listening to employer feedback. In an answer to Ian Mearns MP, she then said that “more emphasis on destination data, tracking where pupils go” would be a key indicator. When asked if she would return to the Committee with evidence of progress from the CEC Morgan promised to return within the Parliament. Of course since September 2015 a lot of water has passed under the political bridge including Cabinet reshuffles, Brexit and a fluffed General Election. With, at the time of writing, a new Education Select Committee chair and membership waiting to be elected, one of the items in a hugely packed education sphere competing for attention from the Committee should be to ask for this promise to be followed up by Morgan’s successor.

There have also been questions in the House to the DfE Ministerial team about the progress of the CEC in meeting its remit. Firstly on 25th January 2016, Sam Gyimah fielded questions with the claim of “significant progress” as evidenced by the hiring of enterprise advisers, the launch of a fund and the forthcoming (then and still now) enterprise passport. There was also the promise of a Careers Strategy in the (for what it’s worth, ahem, still waiting) Spring to further assist schools in their work with the CEC. Again none of this includes monitoring or evaluating the outcomes of any of this work.

On 7th March 2016, Gyimah again took questions on the CEC and again claimed “excellent progress in opening up schools to the world of work.” As well as taking a swipe at Careers Advice, Gyimah promoted the CEC Mentoring scheme and that “every school will have an “Enterprise Adviser.” The session passed with no information on measuring outcomes for students.

The CEC has also appeared in front of MPs during a session of the Sub-Committee on Education Skills and the Economy on the 26th March 2016. With Sam Gyimah unable to attend because of illness, Claudia Harris (alongside Ofsted and the National Careers Service) took questions from a bunch of fairly unprepared MPs who had not heard of the CEC’s work on cold spots or on Government’s own research on employer engagement. The MP’s mainly focused on the “umbrella” work of the CEC to raise engagement provision in areas where this was not happening, on understanding the structural layout of the CEC and the National Careers Service and testing the potential overlaps between the two. Harris was asked about the quality assessment of the work of Enterprise Advisers and promised that schools and colleges will be surveyed on their views of the work of their Advisers. The most important question on the outcomes for students comes at 16.52 in the link above. Harris says the CEC will be measuring 3 outcomes:

  1. Penetration – the numbers of pupils and schools involved
  2. Satisfaction – asking schools if this provision is helping
  3. Impact – working from a baseline in every school, the CEC will monitor how provision has increased

Then Catherine McKinnell MP asks a vital follow-up question “Is there not a risk that there will be a focus on quantity rather than quality,” to which Harris offers

  1. A literature review conducted by the CEC looking at the effectiveness of mentoring as an employer engagement activity so directing funding what works
  2. A series of “deep dive” focus groups where representatives from the CEC will speak to students on their views of engagement provision they have attended and what help it offered them

The absence of two of the outcomes mentioned by Morgan in her session is noticeable. The omission of feedback from employers and student destination statistics is perhaps wise as these are outcome measures not wholly in the control of the CEC and those with conflicting data points with no clear definition from Government on what would be measured. Would a reduction in the of 16-19 NEETS be a plus mark for the CEC or a rise in employer satisfaction of school leaver skills be evidence of the impact of provision? And from which survey source would this be, those conducted by Government or those conducted by business? Or would the only satisfactory judgement be made by the sort of longitudinal research conducted by the Education & Employers Taskforce? This lack of clarity of definable targets continued in a further Committee session (27th April 2016) with the witnesses Nick Boles MP and Sam Gyimah MP where the conversation on quality monitoring of the CEC is sidetracked onto the Dfe Statutory Guidance.

Having to scour Select Committee archives for definitions of the student focused outcome measures of the CEC is indicative of the lack of clarity from the DfE around this issue. If we take Morgan’s comments (as the initalising Secretary of State) as gospel then achieving the tasks set of assuaging the concerns of business and reshaping destination statstics will be no mean feat for the CEC to achieve. Only today the CBI released it’s 2017 Annual Skills Survey. The results include businesses views on the workplace skills of school leavers

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with much to be improved upon and contained the fact that only 21% of businesses “are currently aware” of the activities of the CEC. The fear must be that this is a taskmaster who will never be satisfied.

The ultimate quality of the enabling and linking work the CEC delivers will be decided by those volunteers, staff and practitioners on the ground organising and running the face to face provision with young people. Through its short operating period so far, the CEC has focused on the growth of its structure and operations as evidence of its progress. Soon this attention should change though onto the impact of provision and student outcomes to evaluate that public investment committed to the Company.

 

The bit the Sub-Committee left out

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 inquiry itself was a follow up to the Education Committee inquiry published back in July (my take on that here) as the Sub-Committee felt that the Government response was lacklustre.

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.

Recommendation 2

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.

Recommendation 10

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.

Recommendation 11

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.

Recommendation 18

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.

 

 

 

Confirmed: No face 2 face requirement in the updated #CEIAG guidance

In the Lords yesterday, Lord Nash confirmed what, I suspect, we all knew already, that there will be no mention of a requirement for face to face independent provision in the forthcoming updated guidance for schools on how they should be fulfilling the Careers Statutory Duty.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/140225-0001.htm#14022551000109

At Column 826.

Baroness Hughes of Stretford (Lab): My Lords, despite the Minister’s claims, Ofsted, the Education Committee, the British Chambers of Commerce and the CBI have criticised the Government’s hands-off approach to careers guidance. The CBI said recently that careers advice is on life support now in many

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schools in England. Does the Minister accept that it was wrong to give schools sole responsibility for careers advice but no money to deliver it? Will the Government now act to eradicate the postcode lottery in careers guidance and insist, as my noble friend said, on independent, face-to-face advice for all young people?

Lord Nash: I know that the noble Baroness and I share aspirations for what we expect for young people, but the answer to her question is a firm no. As noble Lords know, the fact that the country is short of money is not this party’s fault. However, I also think that the assumption that a face-to-face interview with a careers adviser is the gold standard is a very outmoded model. As noble Lords will see when we publish our guidance, I hope shortly, we have a very strong emphasis on employer engagement, which we believe is the secret to good careers advice. I give an example: Westminster Academy, which has built up partnerships with more than 200 employers, has 73% FSM and 75% A* to C, including English and maths. I can think of no better example or argument for employer engagement on the ground, giving pupils a direct line of sight to real-life workplaces rather than just career advisers.

This continues the themes from Micheal Gove’s appearance in front of the Education Select Committee in which he hoped for all of the positive outcomes of the work of Careers Advisers without actually wanting any Careers Advisers.

Whenever the updated guidance appears, it seems it will purely be a road-map explaining how schools and business could connect and collaborate which has already been covered in  a recent IPPR report and will also be the point of a forthcoming Business in the Community document, which I have been fortunate enough to see an early draft of. With all of this guidance available to schools and the clear notification of a judgement on their CEIAG provision in any Ofsted report, the ball will be firmly placed back into school’s court on how they approach this work.