Lord Baker

Your Baker Clause school CEIAG policy guide

Exams are looming and the summer break is peaking over the horizon so nobody working in schools needs anything extra to do but I’m going to make a suggestion of something that CEIAG leads should consider getting sorted if not before the end of term, then very quickly in the new academic year. That job is writing, consulting with Senior Leadership on and then publishing on the school website the school policy on other educational and vocational providers speaking and presenting to your cohort of students.

The Technical and Further Education Bill received Royal Assent and became law on 27th April 2017. The core purposes of the Bill are to lay out the regulation and authority of the new Institute for Apprenticeships and create a new insolvency process for Further Education Colleges that navigate themselves into tricky financial waters. It is though one of the Amendments to the Bill, requested by Lord Baker (joint founder of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust which facilitates the opening of new UTCs) that requires attention from CEIAG practitioners in schools.

(CEIAG colleagues in FE Colleges will be more concerned by another Amendment which now requires that Ofsted specifically comment on Careers guidance when publishing their reports on FE providers. I don’t know why this required statute and could not be achieved through Ofsted’s own guidance to inspectors similar the requirement to comment on Careers provision in secondary schools).

Away from the main Bill the Baker Clause can be seen here at paragraph 2. It requires that schools

  1. must ensure that there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access registered pupils during the relevant phase (ages 13-18) of their education for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships
  2. must prepare a policy statement setting out the circumstances in which education and training providers will be given access to registered pupils for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships
  3. must ensure the policy statement includes procedural requirements in relation to requests for access, grounds for granting and refusing requests for access and details of premises or facilities provided to those granted access
  4. must revise the policy “from time to time”
  5. must publish the policy statement

And it this job that needs completing as soon as possible.

All good CEIAG schemes in schools will include plenty of input from vocational and apprenticeship providers and, ever since starting this blog, I have been wary of the Vocational training sectors rote complaint that “students don’t know we exist” as an over simplification of the complicated reasons young people follow routes with clearer directions of travel and fail to secure apprenticeships, despite registering and applying for them in huge numbers (compared to vacancies), yet a cliché is a cliche for a reason. Everyone working in Careers in schools has heard eyebrow raising tales of Sixth Form managers escorting FE College visitors out of the school reception, prospectuses going missing, Apprenticeship providers being put in a classroom to talk to only a “select” group of students and so on. As Lord Baker himself has noted, the introduction of providers such as UTC’s who admit students at 14 into a system unused to this competition for funded students complicated local issues so providing a clearer set of guidelines while still allowing local flexibility would seem a solution looking from the top down. The downside is that it can result in unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.

Tackling the issue from the ground up, practitioners and colleagues will already know that solving these issues best comes through the relationships built from local collaboration and transparency, strong local progression networks and the buy in to a shared vision for positive student outcomes in a regional area.

Where this isn’t the case though, some Vocational and Apprenticeship providers (and Vocational professional bodies will be doing their utmost to inform their members) will be approaching schools in the new academic year expecting a policy document to be in place. Yet any school leaders will also be wary that these requests come at unsuitable times for learning or assessment preparation, they might clash with a multitude of other events such as school photos, leavers assemblies, trips, other booked visitors and so on. This provision needs to part of a planned scheme of CEIAG work for year groups and cohorts so having a clear policy published early will help deal with multiples of requests and also deal with any members of school staff still sticking to outdated ways of working when responding to other local providers who enrol at 14 or 16.

Whether as a separate document or part of your main CEIAG policy I would suggest something along these lines:

As part of X school’s commitment to informing our pupils of the full range of learning and training routes on offer to them, X school is happy to consider requests from training providers, Vocational education and apprenticeship providers to speak to students and will also approach these partners ourselves when planning organising key Careers events throughout the school year.

In the first instance, providers wishing to speak with students should consult our calendar of Careers events published on the school website as we would welcome their input at our main Careers events throughout the school year:

Key Stage 3 Futures drop down day – Autumn term

Key Stage 3 Options Evening – March

Key Stage 4 Careers Fair – October

Life Beyond the Sixth Form – May

These events provide ample opportunities to speak to students and parents both individually and in groups to offer information on vocational, technical and apprenticeship routes. These are usually held in the school hall and timings, facilities and parking and registration details are emailed to exhibitors in good time before the event. Enquires about these events can made to school X’s CEIAG lead at the email address below.

We also have a number of whole year group assembly slots which offer providers a short opportunity to quickly spread the word about their offer. These are 20 minutes slots to a whole year group of around 200 students in our main assembly hall which has a whiteboard projector and speakers for sound. These are usually on offer through the early part of the Autumn and Spring terms as, at other times, our halls are used for exams and so assemblies do not take place. If you are a provider and would like to enquire on the availability of assembly slots please email our CEIAG lead on the details below to request a CEIAG visitor booking form and complete the assembly request section.

If a provider is unable to attend these events or feels that their presentation needs require different circumstances or that they are hosting an event they wish to promote, in the first instance they should contact CEIAG lead at X school ????? via email ?????@xschool.co.uk and complete a CEIAG visitor booking form.

The CEIAG visitor booking form asks for the role of the training, vocational or apprenticeship provider you represent, the aim of the presentation, if the request is for an assembly slot, the number of students the presentation or session is designed for, the length of the talk or presentation, the target year group for the session or presentation, what display or other facilities the session would require, how many provider staff (and names of staff) that will be visiting and what support from school staff you would require on the day. If the email is notification of an event at an off site venue, please include timings of the day, a list of other invited schools and providers, any accessible funding streams for transport costs and a visit risk assessment of the venue.

All requests should be emailed at least 6 weeks (a school half term) in advance an expected date for the planned session. All requests will be given due consideration be X school’s CEIAG lead and Senior Leadership link and requests will be refused if:

  • they impinge on students preparation for public or internal exams
  • they clash with other school events such as visits, other speakers, well-being days, school photographs, sports days, public or internal exams, parents communication events etc
  • the school is unable to provide staff to support the presentation or talk due to previous commitments
  • rooming for the talk or event is unable to be found due to timetabling clashes

Responses to requests will come from the school CEIAG lead. For requests that are approved, School X will provide clear instructions before the event on visitor parking, visitor registration, a contact member of staff and their contact details, the teaching room or school hall to be used at the session and the presentation facilities this space offers.

As part of School X’s wider CEIAG policy, the range of Careers provision for students is reported every academic year to the school governing body and Headteacher.

If you have questions regarding this or School X’s wider CEIAG policy document please do not hesitate to contact our CEIAG lead at ?????@xschool.co.uk

That may seem an overly officious document which would probably elicit a weary sigh from a colleague at a vocational provider wishing to visit schools but that includes all of the information the new Clause requires from schools. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, comments and suggestions in the comments below.

For both schools and Vocational training providers, navigating these policies may provide clarity on how to gain access to each school in their area but it may also be a spur to improve on the local relationships and networks mentioned above that are he real solution to this issue.

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Laws upon laws, duties upon duties…

As, I would imagine, most readers of this blog would be aware, Secondary schools in England have a current statutory duty to provide CEIAG on all routes to their pupils. Despite this, Vocational and apprenticeship providers and policy lobbyists are making loud noises about the need for further legislation in this area.

It was around this time last year that a Careers law was first mooted that would ensure that Vocational and Apprenticeship providers would have access to schools to provide guidance to pupils. At the time I blogged to point out that, if schools, Ofsted and the DfE were all performing the roles the Duty placed on them, then no further legislation was necessary and that any further law was an indication of failure of the system of statutory tools to lever change in a fragmented school system. This law founded with the failure of the Government’s wider “Education for all” Bill which hit the rocks of the Brexit vote, a reshuffle and opposition to forced academy status.

The past weeks have seen essentially competing proposed new legislation come into Parliament to cover CEIAG provision in schools. First up, was the “Baker clause” which is named after Lord Baker, who has used his position in the House of Lords to insert a clause into the Government’s technical and further education bill that would ensure that:

The proprietor of a school in England must ensure that there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access registered pupils during the relevant phase of their education

The actual wording of the Bill (page 2, section 2) seems comprehensive. It places a requirement on schools to write and update and publicly available policy statement that sets out the circumstances under which vocational providers will be given access to students and for what reasons such requests could be refused. I would assume, that the writing of this statement and subsequent responding to requests would then be an administrative task for the school careers leader and line manager to manage. The bill is currently passing through the House of Lords before passing back to the Houses of Parliament for any amendments to be confirmed before Royal Assent. Lord Baker has more than a passing interest in this area as the leading proponent of the UTC school model which has experienced huge difficulties in recruitment of students at both 14 and 16 and been branded as failing by Micheal Gove. That brought a forthright response from Baker but he is clear about the need to ensure recruitment (and so subsequent per pupil funding) is much easier for his Headteachers. Baker foresees his clause forcing schools to hold career events (read: fairs) to allow Vocational providers to speak to students at key recruitment times throughout the academic year.

Just a few days later, this was followed by a ten minute rule Bill from the Labour MP Nic Dakin also legislating for access to secondary school pupils from Vocational providers. Dakin said that his Bill would go further than Baker’s as:

My Bill will ensure that school pupils have access to information from the providers of post-16 pathways locally direct to them. It will require schools in England to provide access to their premises and pupils for post-16 education establishments and other providers.

The wording of the actual Bill isn’t clear on how this would be different and, at the time of writing, it has far further to travel through the legislation process until it becomes part of the Education Act 1997 and so law. This Bill does have more support from the wider FE sector than Baker’s clause and is not tainted by association of the accusation of only trying to save the struggling UTC brand so, perhaps, will gain wider support.

To further complicate matters, these competing acts of legislation coming on top of an already existing statutory duty will soon be joined by a new, overarching, Careers Strategy sometime in 2017.

As well as the complications arising from overlaying legislation, many Careers practitioners in schools will be raising their eyebrows at the problems this doesn’t solve. It doesn’t solve the funding issues, it doesn’t solve the capacity issues and, furthermore, the rhetoric around these Bills aligns access to vocational talks as the white knight, riding in to save school CEIAG provision.

 

 

 

The hidden pill for schools to swallow in the CEIAG guidance

The updated Careers Guidance has been out for a few weeks now which is long enough for it to be read, digested and (in some cases) spat back out by those with an interest in these things. The initial media coverage concentrated on the clear desire in the document(s) for schools to be much more proactive in their approaches and collaborations with the business community to provide the much vaunted and discussed “inspiration” that will illuminate the clear routes ahead of young people on their paths to success. Or something.

What gained less attention was the inclusion of instructions for schools which, arguably, could require a greater amount of change from them.

The original guidance, published in March 2013, contained the Duty including the highlighted sentence below:

while the expanded and updated Guidance in 2014 contains this whole, much more detailed, section:

The difference between the two excerpts could not be clearer in the detail covered or the expectation placed on schools. Or to be more precise, the expectation placed on Careers leads in schools. We now can’t hide away from the fact that we are the forefront of the growth of the marketplace for students at 14 and our requirements to spread IAG may cause disquiet and unease among colleagues and ripples through our local educational landscape. I would imagine, in most schools,  it’s something that needs airing with all of our Senior Leadership teams explicitly and soon.

The issues Studio schools and UTCs have previously encountered with enrolling students have already been noticed by both the national press and the Ministerial team writing the checks so in response, some of these individual schools have been pushing their marketing boat out with focused, local campaigns whilst being supported by a national presence with substantial PR nous and which herald the positive employability skills gained by their alumni. In some areas, this marketing push hasn’t gone smoothly and, I must admit, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more coverage of localised political shenanigans resulting from these transitions (if I’ve missed any, please let me know in the comments). If I was the Head of a newly or soon to be opened Studio School or UTC I would be sending that second image above to the Heads of all my local secondary schools with an offer to come in and run an assembly. Of course, not all of those offers would result in collaborative work but schools who refuse or ignore those requests are on much more shaky ground should Ofsted arrive and ask the questions they should be asking.

There will be Careers Leads in schools who may be reading this and feel content in the knowledge that a UTC or Studio School is not due to open near their patch. They would be wallowing in the relief that I feel when speaking to Colleagues who work in schools with Sixth Form provisions about the long running and well-known battles had about introducing other routes to students at the 16 transition point. Well, I’d hesitate to feel totally at ease yet because, included in that second image, is the line “opportunities for 14-year-old enrollment at local Colleges” and with the funding squeeze being felt by Post 16 providers it’s not difficult to imagine many more of them looking into establishing provision at 14 to both shore up funding and subsequent enrolment at Level 3. This is an issue coming all our ways.