further education colleges

How Ofsted will inspect CEIAG in Further Education from September 2019 – updated May 2019

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This morning saw the release of the consultation for the new Ofsted inspection framework. The consultation runs until the 5th April so changes may be made but here is what Ofsted are proposing when inspecting CEIAG in Further Education settings from September 2019.

The Education Inspection Framework sets out that the 4 categories of judgement (Grade 1 – Outstanding, Grade 2 – Good, Grade 3 – Requires Improvement and Grade 4 – Inedequate) remain. For Further Education settings the 7 sub-sections of each inspection (quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, education programmes for young people, adult learning programmes, apprenticeships) will also receive a 1-4 grading.

In Further Education the Personal Development section will have the most relevance to CEIAG as within those the Inspectorate will be looking at

  • how the curriculum extends beyond the academic, technical or vocational and providers for learners’ broader development, enabling them to develop and discover their interests and talents
  • at each stage of education, how the provider prepares learners for future success in their next steps

The real detail though of what Inspectors will be looking for when they walk through the doors of a College can found in the Further Education and Skills Inspection Handbook. This sets out the type and frequency of inspection that a provider should expect dependent on their current grade. If the provider is expecting a Short Inspection (usually those with a current grade 2) then they should still expect their CEIAG provision to be inspected (para 128 and para 136) with the technical note explaining

Section 41 of the Technical and Further Education Act 2017 requires that Ofsted ‘comment[s]’ on careers guidance provided to students in further education colleges, sixth-form colleges and designated institutions. The Act defines students for this purpose as those aged 16 to 18 and those up to the age of 25 who have an education, health and care (EHC) plan. While the statutory duty applies only to the inspection of the above institutions, inspectors will inspect and comment in similar fashion on careers advice on short and full inspections of all further education and skills providers as appropriate. If there are no 16- to 19-year olds or those with EHC plans, the inspection may not cover careers guidance.

If a regular inspection occurs then the focus on CEIAG comes when inspectors consider the quality of the education programmes for young people (para 172) and the Personal Development of learners (para 216). Surprisingly, CEIAG is not mentioned in the “Outstanding” grade descriptor for Personal Development but is in the “Good” descriptor

The provider prepares learners for future success in education, employment or training by providing: unbiased information to all about potential next steps; high-quality, up-to-date and locally relevant careers guidance, and opportunities for encounters with the world of work

Progression and collaboration with partners to ensure learners move onto positive, suitable and sustained destinations also forms a part of the evaluation for Adult Learning Programmes and Apprenticeships sections.

It is disappointing to see that no research evidence on the value of CEIAG is included in the accompanying research overview document that sets out the evidence rationale for the new Inspection framework. Even just a link to or small mention of work already carried out by the CEC in this area would have been very welcome.

The media coverage of the new Framework has focussed on the increased time that Inspectors will spend in schools for “short” inspections and limited notice time schools and colleges will get before the Inspector arrives. I welcome the extended time for spent on short inspections as, practically, it means that Inspectors are much more likely to look at CEIAG provision but this is Ofsted preforming a balancing act with it’s decresing funding. It is good to see that CEIAG should still be included as part of short Further Education inspections and reported on as well as full but the real proof will be in the awareness and knowledge of HMI in the DfE Careers Guidance for FE and the Gatsby Benchmarks. Those Inspectors fully versed in these landscape moulding frameworks will be the most successful in appreciating and interrogating the evidence base they find themselves through learner and parental feedback and the evidence base offered to them by College Careers Leaders.

MAY 2019 UPDATE –

The link to the final published Further Education and Inspection skills handbook is here accompanied by a summary of the changes between consultation and publication from FE Week. Much remains the same between the consultation and final publication and from previous years and this means CEIAG retains a central place in monitoring visits of any nature. Paragraphs 123 and 128 retain the commitment to evaluate

whether careers education and guidance are of a good quality

Through the rest of the handbook CEIAG is a pivotal aspect of provision Ofsted will assess either through the quality of the offer of education the College is providing to young people or when considering the impact of that work

 All learning builds towards an end point. Learners are being prepared for
their next stage of education, training or employment at each stage of
their learning. Inspectors will consider whether learners are ready for their
next steps.
 Inspectors will also consider whether learners are ready for the next stage
and are going to appropriate, high-quality destinations.

Destinations data as a source of evidence is mentioned throughout, either provided to the Inspectors before or during the inspection or, interestingly

 telephone conversations or other similar discussions with a selection of
learners about their destinations

So have some alumni contacts handy.

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February 2018 Careers Guidance for FE & Sixth Form Colleges

The final chapter in a slew of recently published careers guidance documents and reports is a pair of publications focusing on CEIAG provision in FE & Sixth Form Colleges in England.

Coming after the Careers Strategy, the Gatsby benchmarks for schools, the Statutory schools Guidance and it’s sister document Good Career Guidance Benchmarks for Young People in Colleges, Careers Guidance: Guidance for further education colleges and sixth form colleges, it’s important to note, is not a Statutory document for the Further Education Sector. The exempt charitable status of many of the providers in the sector does not allow for such diktats. Where the leverage comes from for the compliance with the standards and expectations set out in the document are the clear warnings that failure to adhere could result in the withdrawal of ESFA grant funding (which would be a major decision to take).

Following from their work on school CEIAG standards which was well received by both practitioners and policy markers, Gatsby again supply the backbone of the standards document. In this instance though a critical piece of work is missing which then damages confidence in all that follows. The original Gatsby report used a number of sources to build their recommended standards. As well as looking at provision in other countries, reviewing research and interviewing stakeholders, the Foundation also commissioned PWC to figure how much this would cost an average school. For the College document, conversations with Colleges seem to have happened but no specific costing documents have been published. This missing building block means that the recommended standards of provision that follow ring a little hollow, especially in the sector of education that has a building consensus of agreement in its underfunding.

The guidance in the document itself falls into three categories:

  1. Provision that makes perfect sense
  2. Provision that makes perfect sense but is going to need a lot more resource
  3. The Brexit Unicorn is riding into town before this happens

Provision that makes perfect sense

Much does. Asking every College to have a “Careers Leader” to mirror the forthcoming role in schools means that each Post 16 provider can still tailor their student service offer but ensures that a named individual is responsible. An embedded programme of CEIAG that is reviewed regularly, that keeps learner records of interactions and challenges stereotypical thinking would please all practitioners. It’s good to see destinations data achieve clear priority and the requirement for employer interactions is only sensible considering the relevant research and the entire remit of most Further Education provision. Asking for clear links between Careers Leaders and SEN provision at previous stages of the learners journey is welcome. Building the work of the CEC into Post 16 Careers work, after the work of the Local Area Reviews, continues the link to local labour market demand. Finally, the clear recommendation for guidance interviews to be conducted by Level 6 and above qualified advisers is a clear signpost for dedicated student support teams in Post 16 provision rather than “one stop shop” offers.

Provision that makes perfect sense by is going to need a lot more resource

As the forthcoming T Levels will also demand, ensuring that work experience is a standard component of a study programme is a desirable outcome but one which will require a lot more opportunities for work experience placements.

Expanding the remit of the CEC to enable Colleges and schools to meet all of the Benchmarks across both Guidance documents is sensible but, I’m sure Enterprise Co-ordaintors would agree, they would need more support than just new provision mapping tools to achieve this. A release of a College specific Compass tool in September 2018 is welcome but will not be near enough.

The Brexit Unicorn rides into town

Benchmark 8 is the steepest mountain to climb. It requires that every 16-18 learner has at least one guidance interview before the end of the course. This would be a huge demand on staffing levels across many Colleges. I think that, comparably my own College is well staffed. We have 4 Advisers (including myself) and part-time resource support working across 3 larger sites and another 4 satellite sites. Approximately 4000 Post 16 learners study across the full spectrum of post 16 provision. We strive to make our service as accessible as possible but it would be true that if all of these learners were to take up a full guidance interview then our work with Adult learners, part-time learners and the community will be impacted. Achieving this benchmark would require a fundamental expansion of our staffing levels and, I suspect, the vast majority of Post 16 provision would have to invest from a lower base .

Another requirement that, I think, is pie in the sky is the Benchmark 3 guidance that

records of advice given should be integrated with those given at the previous stage of the learner’s education (including their secondary school) where these are made available

I just can’t foresee standard practice across the country of Careers Leaders in secondary schools getting permission from pupils and then sharing guidance records of all students to all of their destinations. It might happen in pockets across MATs or school to adjoined or local Sixth Form transitions but not to Further Education Colleges.

Post 16 careers provision is a different, more varied beast than provision in secondary schools. The landscape of curriculum, qualification and delivery are all more diverse meaning that the journey and destinations are also wider. This means challenges for any standardization guidance but one that would really want to make a change would be a project that took upon itself the, admittedly considerable, work of finding out how much this would all cost separate from the previous school costings.

Revised Careers Guidance for FE and 6th Form Colleges

In the interests of completeness, here is the revised Guidance document “Careers guidance and inspiration – Guidance for general further education colleges and sixth form colleges” that was released yesterday.

For those familiar with the corresponding schools careers guidance the document is much of a muchness with the requirements of the duty for independent guidance on all routes to be provided for students in a number of suitable methods. Case studies highlight different ways of achieving this (including utilising organisations such as Career Academies) and Destination Measures are held up as the  method of accountability. The document then runs through a number of online resources that can help achieve Sixth Forms and Colleges achieve these aims.