IAG

In 2018/2019, UCAS will charging schools & colleges for a poorer service

One of the regular annual financial outgoings from a school or College’s CEIAG budget are the various fees to access the different services and registrations for the UCAS advisers website. For education institutions there is no choice but UCAS to administer their learner’s Higher Education applications and this is reflected in the zero charge to become a registered UCAS centre. Where the charges from UCAS do start to rack up though is the extra services on offer to track the progress of offers, replies and acceptances your learners make. These are useful tools for tracking the destinations of learners, the offers they received and how your institution compares to competitors but they come with an individual or packaged price tag.

ucas adviser track fees

Paying for a service is that helps write destination reports and offer a better service to learners is perfectly reasonable. What will cause consternation to those paying for those services from the 2019 application cycle will be the fact that the data they rely upon may be incomplete.

Advisers signing into the 2019 portal will be greeted with this:

ucas 2019 sign in

Which, as I asked UCAS,

means that, from now on, any reports offered by UCAS may be based on incomplete data as learners may not have opted in to share their post application progress with their centre.

Of course GDPR is an important piece of legislation that has fundamentally reframed the way that individuals regard the use of their data both on and off the internet and UCAS Corporate cannot ignore it. What is seems they are willing to ignore though is that they will be charging educational institutions a fee for what will be, in effect, a poorer service and product. They are also oblivious to the potential knock on customer service effect this will have on learners as many will be approaching the source of IAG in their school or College post application only for the Adviser to have no method of checking their application unless the applicant signs in to UCAS Apply/Track themselves. I can see this significantly increasing the number of calls to UCAS support lines as school based IAG advisers find themselves unable to offer much post application IAG as they will not be able to see the learner’s application.

Schools & Colleges should be aware of this change and will have to do their best to encourage their learners to opt in to sharing their post application progress but this will only go so far. Many learners complete their form in their own time, away from school or College, so will go through the terms & conditions section without an Adviser present.

For Careers Leaders in Colleges, writing their Higher Education destinations reports next summer will be much more of a headache than previous years.

 

Some quick thoughts on the new #GCSE reform and post 16 progression

The latest in a tumult of change sweeping through all stages of England’s education system was announced this morning with the Ofqual consultation on which grades in the new GCSEs (1-9, with 9 being the best) will be equal to what grades under the old GCSEs (with the all important for the student C gateway).

A few possible implications regarding how these changes will affect the progression of young people onto the next stages of their learning and how CEIAG staff will have to adapt spring to mind.

So, bearing in mind that these will first be awarded to students in the summer of 2017 in English, English Literature and Maths GCSE only and that the content of the curriculum studied by these students for the 2 year course will have been more challenging than the predecessor and it will have been assessed purely on terminal exams rather than incorporating speaking and listening elements…

1. The proposal that a grade 4 will be equivalent to a grade C from the legacy qualification and a grade 7 will be equivalent to an A – will mean very different things depending on which side of the ‘C’ boundary a child falls. The increased number of grades (6 rather than 4) above the boundary will spread students achieving a “pass” out across these grades and give Sixth Forms and HE more scope to distinguish between higher achieving candidates for both A Level and Russell Group type degrees and between A Level courses even at the same institution, you may see a greater variance in entry requirements (History A Level courses asking for a “7 or above in GCSE History” for example rather a standard 5 or 6 across the other subjects).

For those below the  boundary it will be a different story. More children, to begin with, will be clumped across fewer grades below this raised standard and will therefore have the choice of Post 16 routes restricted. The Dfe believe that improving standards and changes to Key Stage 2 curriculum and tests will raise standards of attainment in the longer term but most people’s first conclusion will be that will see a larger proportion of students each year not have the choice of the full range of pathways open to them. The 4 A Level and higher vocational qualification route will not be possible for as many students as it is now and, because of the rules for English & Maths retakes, more students will see the options that are open to them become more prescribed. I fear there are implications for student motivation here in Key Stage 4 which CEIAG professionals will be at the forefront of addressing.

2. 2017 and 2016 is going to be a dogs dinner for CEIAG workers in Secondary schools – As it will only be new GCSEs in English Language, English Literature and Maths awarded this year, students will open their envelopes on results day to find a grade 1-9 in these qualifications but still be awarded A-G in any other GCSEs they will have taken such as History, Drama, Music etc. Many students will have also studied a L2 BTEC course so receive a Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail in those subjects.

This will have repercussions as those students go on through the education system and their working lives but also in the long tail of guidance and build up to transition that pre-empt those results. How will Sixth Forms, FE Colleges and Apprenticeships Employers adjust their requirements to reflect this mix of new and old? Will they be able to communicate their requirements to feeder schools early enough so proper IAG can take place? How will these changes interact and impact with the changes to the A Level curriculum and the removal of the AS mid-point? Will Apprenticeship employers react in time to adjust their online application sites or be fully aware of the equivalent grades?

Of course this is still at the consultation stage and the Ofqual documents states that, ultimately, the decision on where the grading falls will be based on the feedback from employers and FE and HE. Meanwhile, for the students and those trying to advise them, there are lots of answers still to come.

CEIAG in Labour’s Skills Taskforce Policy Review

Released today was a document that sets the recommendations for 14-19 education that the Labour shadow cabinet will consider when writing their 2015 election manifesto. It has a substantial section dedicated to CEIAG for this age group at point 4.2

There are 3 final recommendations:

6) A responsibility on schools to track the destinations of all students, and an element

funding conditional on passing learners onto the next stage of their education or
training post-16
(7) LEPS to broker high quality and independent Information Advice and Guidance (IAG)
locally, working with schools and employers, supported by funding withheld from
schools who fail to secure a next step in education or training for their pupils
(8) A new statutory responsibility for schools and colleges to collaborate with one
another to share resources, build opportunities for young people and deliver a
comprehensive upper secondary framework, including a Tech Bacc for vocational
learners

Initial Thoughts

The Careers community that has been so aghast with the Coalition’s policy in this area that removes Careers guidance professionals from the equation and relies solely on the input from Business will find much heart from the paragraphs that maintain the importance of independent IAG input. The reliance on NEET outcomes to maintain funding does cause me a pause as individual school NEET statistics are volatile (percentages can be based on very small numbers of individuals by school). A check on the attendance of ex students on 1st November could gain very different results from exactly the same check carried out two weeks later. The NEET population isn’t a stagnant blob of youngsters, learners are constantly moving off and into training, learning or employment outcomes so it would need to be measured in a considered way not for it to be open to manipulation. The LEPs idea will please the Association of Colleges as it closely resembles their “careers hub” proposal.