Launched in September 2018 with 20 Hubs across the country (plus the orginal North East pilot area), the Careers & Enterprise Company is now expanding this policy with another 20 Hubs. When launched, I was positive about the structure of support they would be able to offer local areas and could see the rationale behind expanding the North East pilot but was concerned that the funding model those schools and colleges enjoyed was not also being replicated. The initial wave of hubs covers locales across the country:
- Black County – 36 schools and colleges
- Buck Careers Hub – 21
- Cornwall – 40
- Cumbria – 40
- Greater Manchester – number of schools & colleges involved not clear
- Heart of the south west – 40
- Humber – 26
- Lancashire – number not clear
- Leeds City Region – 35
- Leicester – 20
- Liverpool City Region – 34
- New Anglia – 32
- North East – 40 (plus 10 colleges?)
- Solent – 32
- South East – ?
- Stoke – 20
- Swindon – 40
- Tees Valley – 35
- West of England – 25
- Worcestershire – 40
- York – 35
The CEC says the total number of schools and colleges involved is 710.
As we reach the end of the first academic year of their existence, the CEC claims that schools and Colleges in those Hubs are progressing faster towards meeting the Gatsby benchmarks than schools and colleges not located in Hubs and large proportions of them are already meeting a number of the Benchmarks.
Which shows rapid improvement in the percentage of Hub schools & Colleges reporting that they are fully meeting Gatbsy benchmarks. Within those figures though a truly eye opening amount of work must be happening.
Let’s take one benchmark in particular – Benchmark 8, Personal Guidance. The claim from the CEC is that 61% of Hub schools and colleges are reporting that they are fully meeting this Benchmark.
The School Guidance for this Benchmark is clear that to achieve it, every pupil should have a guidance interview with a Careers Adviser by the age of 16 and, if the school has a sixth Form, another if required by the age of 18.
While in the Sixth Forms & Colleges Guidance the wording is slightly different to take into account that students can complete Entry, Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 study programmes at different ages up to 19 so the age of the student isn’t the limiting factor, just as long as the IAG interview occurs during the learners study programme.
But the aim remains the same; every young person gets a 1:1 Careers meeting with a qualified professional.
Across the 710 schools and colleges in the Hubs it’s hard to find published the exact numbers of schools and the exact number of dedicated Post 16 providers (I’ve included the total number of providers for each Hub above where I could find it) but whatever those figures are, the CEC is now claiming that 61% of Hub providers are fully meeting Benchmark 8. This is extraordinary in itself but what I find even more remarkable is that 56% of those providers were reporting that they were already fully compliant with Benchmark 8 back in July 2018 before the Hub started. That is a very high level of provision in terms of pupil numbers.
Dfe data is that, on average, there are 948 pupils in a secondary school.
Across the 20 Hubs lets say, conservatively, 700 schools of the 710 participants are secondary schools that gives a total school pupil population of 663,600.
That leaves around 10 Sixth Forms or Colleges (in reality, it’s likely that these Post 16 providers take up a greater number) and these providers can vary tremendously in size. For example, Sunderland College has around 4,800 full time learners while Sixth Form Colleges have, on average 1,823 and School Sixth Forms even smaller at 202 students on average.
Sunderland College were part of the North East pilot Hub so I’ll include their learners but be conservative on the other participants and say the rest are smaller Sixth Form Colleges. That would result in a total of 21,207 Post 16 learners included in the Benchmark 8 figures in the pilot.
So the total number of students covered by the Hubs = 684,807 pupils (although this is likely to be larger)
If 61% of providers are now reporting fully meeting Benchmark 8 then that’s approx 423,832 young people in those 20 areas that have had a Careers interview. In July 2018, before the Hub started, 389,092 (56%) of young people were having a Careers interview. This is a huge amount of Careers and guidance provision occurring in those localities.
There should be huge lessons for those practitioners in the rest of the country to learn from these figures.
- What was the practice and structure already in place that allowed those 56% of those providers to already meet everyone of their students for a Careers interview? Considering that Hub areas were chosen specifically in response to the CEC’s own cold spots research which was meant to indicate a dearth of Careers provision,
There should be learning opportunities here for the CEC as well as their Personal Guidance fund is another pot of money looking to support innovative practice in this area of CEIAG. Their publication in the “What works series: Personal Guidance” shows though that there are not many short cuts to providing provision in this area and how time and cost intensive Personal Guidance is by it’s very nature.
In a 948 roll secondary school, a Year 11 cohort would equal around 190 pupils. Seeing 5 of those pupils a day for a Careers interview would take nearly 38 days or over 7.5 weeks so this is a significant staffing allocation and that is just one year group. As a practitioner in an FE College with around 3000 full time students attending, I am another Careers Leader looking for ways to offer a guidance service that meets all of the quality points above but is also flexible enough to maximize capacity.
Hopefully the CEC is learning from those providers in the Hub areas how, despite rating lowly on the Cold Spot metrics, over half of them were able to previously achieve Benchmark 8.
2. How does that level of provision compare to providers outside of Hub areas?
Other sources offer insights but not directly comparable data. The most recent DfE omnibus survey (surveying pupils in Year 8 to 11) reports 47% of (under 16) pupils say the experienced a face to face guidance session
while the 2019 Youth Employment Survey (3008 young people aged 14-24) reports that 67% of young people had an interview with a Careers Advisor.
The most recent CEC State of the Nation report shows that 48% of all schools and colleges completing Compass reported that they were fully meeting Benchmark 8 in their first submission but this figure has risen to 55.4% on second rating.
So the Hub areas were already starting from a higher base than the rest of the country before the Hubs had even started.
3. Is this stable and should a new Benchmark 8 rating be submitted by the provider every year?
As Deirdre Hughes asks here for Benchmarks 5 & 6 but her question is equally applicable to Benchmark 8
Each academic year will bring new students for a school or college to work with and many things (loss of staff, internal restructures, expanding school roll) could result in a provider not maintaining their 100% compliance with Benchmark 8. Could the percentage of providers meeting Benchmark 8 in a Hub area fall as well as rise?
4. What changes have lead to the increase in capacity to be able to offer more or attain more take up of Careers interviews since the Hubs started?
Is it more schools and colleges dedicating more staffing towards this provision or something else?
It will be interesting to see how the new Hubs add to the lessons the CEC is learning over the next academic year and whether the rate of progress against Benchmarks continues particularly in areas which require high resource allocation.