joseph rowntree foundation

CEIAG in Post 16 providers – a survey

Over the years of writing this blog the annual omnibus survey from the DfE has always offered a useful insight into the reality of the scale of CEIAG provision across the country. Up until now I did not realise that they also undertake a Post 16 version of the survey, the most recent release of which includes plenty of interesting information about the scale and types of provision on offer by providers.

fe omnibus survey

The first point to make about the results is that respondents do appear to come from the wide variety of providers across the FE landscape (Table A1: 421 responses) but overall it’s heartening to see just how widespread the range of CEIAG work is across the Post 16 stage.

fe omnibus survey 1

The rise in employer encounters since 2017 was noted by the CEC looking for signs of impact of their work.

The figures that provide the most surprise to me though come from the split into type of provision by type of institution

fe omnibus survey 2

My assumption would be that FE Colleges would be offering more employer encounters for students than Sixth Forms attached to schools. Employer engagement is a central tenet of the mission of FE providers and the qualifications they offer. In my experience at least, the range and scale of employer engagement is much more frequent and in-depth then what you would expect in a school with a small sixth form but that seems to not to be the case here. The other interesting data point is the scale of difference between the students at different providers participating in University visits but this comes with a word of warning. There is some confusion across the document in the way this question is worded; fig 10.1 phrases it “All students considering university have had at least two visits to universities” while 10.2 uses “University applicants have had at least two visits to universities.” These differences appear subtle but for an FE College who will have a significant proportion of their student population studying qualifications at Level 2 and below, the wording of this question could elicit significantly different results from respondents.

Elsewhere in the survey, it is heartening to see CEIAG provisions taking center stage in respondents thinking when detailing their “activities to encourage students to have high aspirations or to help them achieve their potential.”

fe omnibus survey 3

Careers Teams in Sixth Forms, FE Colleges, UTCs & Studio Schools would be involved in the organisation or delivery of all of those types of provision in some way. Leaving aside the continual misappropriation of disadvantaged young people having “low aspirations,” when research shows that they have high aspirations but lack the tools and social and cultural capital to enact those aspirations (pdf), this data shows Post 16 Careers Leaders how to best frame their offer to explain value to Senior Leaders. The potential areas to offer provision in that would gain benefit can be found in the responses to the next question, “Barriers faced be post-16 institutions in raising aspiration within the student population.”

fe omnibus survey 4

Many of which are structural barriers (e.g. cost of continuing education, socio-economic) but also barriers which Careers Teams can help tackle with clear messaging. For example, with the use of Martin Lewis’ campaign materials to tackle some of the myths around Higher Education tuition fees to assuage student fears over the impact of these costs and offering to play a central role in parental engagement events and activities.

Wide scale tracking of CEIAG provision is valuable to note the impacts that policy or changes in accountability focus can ripple through the system. These annual surveys from the DfE are an important data point to achieve this. Another survey that may interest you or benefit from your involvement is the CEC survey of Careers Leaders in schools which will hopefully report interesting data on the workforce change that the Careers Strategy and DfE Careers Guidance for schools has influenced so get your response sent if this is applicable to you. A similar survey for FE Careers Leaders is planned for later this year.


On white working class students and aspiration

Following last week’s Education Select Committee report into the under achievement of white working class children, Friday’s Telegraph editorial placed the majority of the blame on one factor, a “dearth of ambition.”

Despite the actual report stating:

50. One of the more frequently discussed home factors was the role of aspirations, but
there was disagreement on whether white working class children had low aspirations and
whether this caused or explained low achievement.


the Joseph Rowntree Foundation felt that low aspirations were not a key
cause of lower attainment among white British children from low-income backgrounds,
and suggested that aspirations were actually very high across all social groups.


Professor Stephen Gorard (Professor
of Education and Public Policy, Durham University) described attitudes and aspirations as
“a red herring”

which ties very closely into “Understanding Employer Engagement in Education Ed by Mann, Stanley & Archer, Chapter 7 Local Labour Markets; What effects Do they have on the aspirations of young people?” by Ralf St Clair, Keith Kintrea & Muir Houston.

The conclusion of the chapter states:



The Observer seems to have grasped this and offered a more nuanced conclusion

But one worrying trend raised by several respondents to the inquiry was the impact of parents’ lack of faith in the education system. This is not parents lacking aspiration for their children. This is scepticism that the school system actually offers what their children need. It’s a case of: “The school system hasn’t helped me, why would it help my kids?”

The chapter from St Clair, Kintrea and Houston goes onto say;

Given the importance of families in shaping aspirations – and the lack of knowledge among many families about routes to particular occupations – supporting aspirations also mean working with parents more closely, especially where parents face disadvantages themselves.

From this we might conclude that the first battle to embed the social, cultural and experiential capital needed by lower socio-economic groups to achieve the results and career outcomes for their children they aspire to, will be to persuade parents that they need that capital to begin with.