level 6

Using images & visual starters in Career Guidance

With a h/t to @CareersResearch I found these examples from Katherine Jennick about her practice using visual starters and images in her 1:1 IAG work with her cohort of Key Stage 3 & 4 clients very interesting.

The discussion with Liane Hambly (from around 17 minutes in the video below) is an excellent CPD resource and, I would imagine, a very useful resource for any leaders of the Level 6 Career Guidance and Development Diploma. Give it a watch.



More Careers inquiry fandango

Recent weeks have seen not one but two sessions on CEIAG held by the joint Education & Business sub-committee. In fact, due to Ministerial illness, a third is soon to come. What a time to be alive.

The first session, with witnesses from the CDI, Careers England, AELP and the West Midlands LEP, was not broadcast as it was held away from the Westminster estate so only a written record has been published while the second session, with witnesses from the Careers Enterprise Company, the National Careers Service and Ofsted, is online for your viewing pleasure.

Across these two sessions there’s a couple of things which peaked my interest.

  1. The CDI are treading very carefully around the funding issue

Suggesting that HE Widening Participation funds be funneled off to help fund careers support might be an idea with merit and fit as a solution to the dropout data but asking funding to be directed from another strand of the social mobility levers isn’t without downsides. Careers work with young people is something that a Government should see as a stand alone good and fund as such. In the current climate, asking Government for cash is a sure fire way to be swiftly shown the meeting room exit door which makes persuasion harder but it shouldn’t be dodged because of this.

The confusion over strategic funding ideals and what this funding gets spent on (see point 5) is also exacerbated by the strong call from all witnesses for Careers Quality Marks to be an integral part of any recommendations put forward by the Committee. This would come with a significant cost for schools currently under huge financial pressure (plus the forthcoming evidence toolkit will surely weaken the argument for quality awards even further, but that’s another blog). The issue of funding needs a joined up message from the CDI and not left to other unions.

2. The National Careers Service offer for young people isn’t being held to account 

Around the 16.30pm mark Joe Billington, the Director of the National Careers Service, is asked how many young people have used the phone service but the conversation is diverted and the answer never comes. The most recent data shows that just 4% of the 25,000 telephone users of the service were 19 or under (page 19). That isn’t enough.

3. Generally, the MPs didn’t seem very well briefed

Around the 16.38pm mark, a number of the MP’s seem shocked to learn that a wealth of data on skills mismatches and employer views on the employability of young people was already readily available even before the Careers Enterprise Company used it to form their “cold spots” map. Both the UKCES Employer Perspectives survey and the annual Employer Skills survey have this information in droves. That these MPs, on this specific sub-committee, looking at this specific issue, were not aware of this is baffling. Amanda Milling MP then goes onto ask about the interaction between business and schools, it’s true that a lot has been published on this subject but, at the very least, could she not be aware of the work from the department she is meant to be scrutinising?

4. Relying on Ofsted to be the all knowing overseer of careers work in schools is a busted flush

They don’t have the time, the capacity nor the inspection framework to do it. It isn’t happening on the scale it needs to now and, with the ongoing move to a school lead system and a new Chief Inspector to be appointed, won’t in the future.

5. This is a lot of strategic stuff without asking, “Day to day, who’s talking to young people?”

For all of this talk about “umbrella” organisations, Quality Marks and websites not a lot of time or attention seems to be focused on who is actually going to enabling this provision for and with young people. To their credit, the CDI are clear in their expectation of suitable CPD and qualification status for professionals and the work of the Careers Enterprise company will help provision levels. Helping schools focus on, fund and find time for careers work to happen seems to be the roll your sleeves up work though nobody wants to roll their sleeves up for.

Side note – If I was a tinfoil hat wearing type I would also note that, last year, the revamped careers duty for schools was released on the 25th March and the Guidance the year before that on April 14. Postponing the Ministerial witness session to beyond those dates this year could allow them to appear in front of the Committee with a new document to offer.


It took a while but we got there in the end

It’s been a journey with a few stops and starts along the way but we got there. If you’re in the midst of tackling your own CEIAG qualification, keep going and, unit by unit, assignment by assignment, you’ll drag the finish line closer to you.

Thanks to the guys at White Rose Training for their organisation and guidance on the journey.

Level 6 Career Guidance Diploma – Not drowning but waving…

I’m currently completing the Level 6 OCR Careers Guidance Diploma. Like all NVQ’s, it’s a competency based qualification based on a folder of evidence you produce and collect through your working practices to fulfill both compulsory and chosen units.

Some of it so far has been very interesting, other bits have been quite testing (Unit 3 – I’m looking at you) and I can very much see the benefit of it, especially working in a school environment with young people. For those of us who work in secondary schools, there is a conflict to manage between the client centered approach of IAG and the need to encourage young people who are on the path to becoming independent but aren’t there yet.

So I thought I’d post some hints and tips for those either doing the Level 6 or thinking of embarking on it. But, these hints come with small print.

I’ve heard of other groups completing the course in 3 months. I’ve been doing it for about 12 months and I reckon I’m about halfway through. It’s taking me a loooooong time.

Bearing that in mind:

1. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security with the time needed to dedicate to the course. Competency based qualifications can sometimes be sold as, essentially, photocopying the odd bit of your regular daily paperwork and sticking it in a folder. Hey presto! Qualification!

Nope. Not like that. There’s plenty of original work that needs to be produced or harassed out of busy line managers. Make sure you’ve got the time.

(And, I know, here I am writing a blog and moaning about not having enough time. King of procrastination)

2. Prepare your key colleagues and line mangers – you will be calling on them to write witness testimony for you. Let them know requests are coming and be clear about what you want from them for each piece.

3. Unit 3 is the one with the essays. It’s a slog but one which I found more intriguing the more I read and, in the end, really had to reel myself in from writing too much and sticking pigheadedly to the style of essay writing that got me through University. On one point I had to reverse, stop what I was doing and start again because it wasn’t what our course tutor had requested and it wasn’t fulfilling the unit criteria.

4. Before you start, think through your regular month by month work activities and plan which of those will produce observation or evidence opportunities for certain modules. My academic year runs a pattern, September to December is Year 11s and college/Sixth Form/apprenticeship applications, January to March is Year 9 option choices and March through to the summer is Year 10 work experience. Think through which activities you will be running at these points and what evidence that might produce. For example, I run University awareness raising group works and trips for Year 9 in January so that would be a great observation example for Unit 12 “Assist clients to apply for learning, training and work” while Unit 7 “Work with other agencies for the benefit of the client and the organisation” would be better covered with observations of the planning meetings of our Year 11 careers fair in October.

5. Stationary is fun! Invest in a proper folder with colour coded inserts and those clear, plastic pockets – not only will it help your tutor navigate your folder to see any “stories” you want to tell but it will also help you find documents when you need to.

6. Stories – certain Units really work best by using your evidence to tell a story. I’m doing a case study for Unit 5 “Explore and agree the career guidance and development needs of clients so documents such as meeting records and emails relating to the client are very useful to lead the assessor through the procedure you followed. Using lots of different documents to tell a story can be useful for lots of different Units though, if, for example, you wrote a guidance booklet for students or a particular group of clients if would be fantastic to have emails of feedback on the booklet or evaluation sheets from clients suggesting alterations which you then acted on and the updated drafts of the booklet.

7. Don’t be scared of professional discussions. They’re a time effective way of getting across your knowledge, experience and working practices relating to the Unit so, if your course leader offers, jump at the chance and book them in early. My course tutor suggested a recorded discussion as a suitable method for evidencing Unit 1 “Preparing to work in the career information, advice and guidance sector” and it was very useful for setting out how my role fits within the wider school community. Careers workers in schools taking this qualification are each going to have slightly different duties and it’s just as valuable that the course leader has your particular situation set up to mould your folder around what you do.

As ever, if you’re taking the Level 6 qualification or thinking about it then get it touch to share your own tips!