National Careers Council

An Autumn Statement dollar, dollar bill y’all

Today was a good news day in CEIAG world. At the Autumn Statement to the House of Commons, George Osborne pulled a Careers rabbit out of the hat and promised a £20 million cash injection into Careers advice for young people.

added to the recent contract changes to the National Careers Service and the funding equivalence involved (5% of about £109.5m)

it is great to see this vital work with young people getting cash backing. It was certainly welcomed by the National Careers Council

NCC chairwoman Deirdre Hughes said: “It is great to see the government recognising that more needs to be done to support young people with career decisions.

“This is an important step in the right direction. The key will be how the funds will be used to have the greatest impact and I will be very interested to see how the plans unfold.

“It would always be good to have more money. One of our three options we gave to government to improve services was costed at £17.5 million, so £20 million is a good step.”

So does that mean that George was all








and we’re all going to be








Well no, not quite. Cast your mind back to the Gatsby Foundation report which asked Price Waterhouse Coopers to cost a comprehensive and quality school Careers program. Their conclusion was, “that the total cost of achieving all the benchmarks in a typical school will be £53,637 in the first year and £44,676 per annum thereafter.” Their costing for all secondary schools in England to achieve the benchmarks would then be, “£172 million per year from the second year onwards.”

Of course asking for around another £150m when you’ve just been given £20m seems churlish and unhelpful but, we should remember that this funding promise is just a start and that £20m will have to be spent extremely prudently for discernible impacts to be felt.

The National Careers Service has launched a resources pack for schools

As part of, what looks like from the outside, a refitting and refocusing of the National Careers Service towards supporting school CEIAG work an “E-Pack” of resources for teachers to use with students has been launched.

Link here:

The pack consists of a number of worksheets and power points that mainly advertise the National Careers Service to young people. This follows on the recent National Careers Council report which highlighted that the number of contacts the Service has with young people has fallen year on year:

The lesson plans, like the Barclays Lifeskills ones, are very general but might spark some ideas from you to fit into your own careers lessons or tutor plans.

There is also the usual collection of posters and leaflets also found on the National Apprenticeship Service site that no school would actually ever print off as the printing costs would be astronomical.

The final document, and perhaps the one I’m more likely to use first, is a “Support Requirements Form” that allows schools to book the Service to attend and run events.

10 things this Government has done which could improve CEIAG in schools

OOOOooooh, controversial headline but, hey, stick with me and hopefully, you might even agree with a few of the points!

1. Provided a policy focus on continuing Literacy and Maths until 18 

Recently this article

took a well argued stance that young people were being rushed through an education system that forced them to take decisions that greatly affected future career pathways too early. There’s much in that piece that provoked a nod in agreement from me as I would concur that a large number of young people leave school before finding their magnetic north to help guide their career route (if they ever do). Well, if we agree that a large number of young people are not making subject decisions at 14 and 16 with an identified career area in mind, then surely we should welcome the current Government’s policy focus on some subjects being important enough for all students to continue to study up until 18. While not limiting specialism, keeping a shared focus of literacy (for some) and maths (for all) will surely allow more students to move between career streams at higher ages.

2. Increased specialised routes for those who wish to take them at 14

For those youngsters that have settled on a distinct path early, this Government has increased the range of providers such as University Technical Colleges, Studio Schools and, from September, opened the opportunity for some students to enroll at FE Colleges from 14. The breadth of industries and career areas these pathways will cover is growing and will offer enticing and motivating routes for some students.

3. Given more freedom than ever before to Headteachers

Even with the spurious nonsense over the battle between Academy chain or Local Authority, school leaders at all kinds of schools have never had so much freedom over how they wish to run their institutions and are searching for programs and interventions that work. If we are convinced that good Careers work has positive outcomes with students, we should be at the front of the queue to persuade Senior Leaders to fund these programs in schools

4. Issued a Statutory Duty and follow-up guidance to shape Careers IAG in school

Whether or not you think the Duty is robust or comprehensive enough, it is there for all schools to follow and, combined with the sensible suggestions and examples of good practice in the subsequent Guidance, no school Leader should be under any confusion about what a good careers program looks like.

5. Cultivated a culture of “choice” & “competition” between schools

The implication of this worldview on the wider education of children tempts fierce debate but, purely in the context of CEIAG, it provides an opportunity. A more market based system requires schools to pay much more attention to marketing and reputation management. The positive outcomes and stories achieved by a good careers program offer much scope for Heads to take advantage of to get these messages across. Look how many of our students made successful transitions into Apprenticeships! Look at our students on this wonderful Oxbridge taster day! Look at our students in this engineering workshop run by a local company! You get the picture but this could be another persuasive weapon for establishing good career learning activities in school.

6. Published Destination Measures as part of the Performance table website

It has never been easier for all stakeholders to see if a school is enabling its leavers to make suitable, sustained transitions into future pathways. Schools with good career programs should be highlighting this data at every opportunity.

7. Enabled Ofsted to include a school’s CEIAG provision in their inspections

It would be fair to say that neither Dfe or Bis has had any influence over this decision by the regulator of schools but it’s happened under their watch so they get credit.

8. Enabled Ofqual to crack down on the practice of early and multiple entry in exams

Again, the Dfe has had no influence whatsoever over this decision. Despite it being the publicly expressed opinion of Gove numerous times. Nope, nope, nope. None. But for Careers workers in schools this will have two benefits. Firstly, more students will not just be satisfied to ‘bank’ a C as soon as they achieve it in the Core subjects in which this practice flourished but will continue to hope and work towards higher grades, thus improving the variety of pathways open to them for further study. Secondly, combined with the move to more terminal exams at the end of Year 11, the timetable will be freed up through Years 9 & 10 for (carefully planned of course) targeted careers work. The sudden boom in recent years of controlled assessment and the continual build up to end of module exams and resists has severely constricted the timetable to squeeze in career activities.

9. Set up a National Careers Service

Which does offer some services to young people.

10. Worked with the policy Advisory Group ‘The National Careers Council’

Which continues to advise The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and included much about school based careers work in its first report an Aspiration Nation

Disclaimer time – I don’t necessarily believe that all of these interventions will be as successful or work out as the current administration intends and there are many, many more decisions they could have taken that, in my eyes, would have improved standards. But I did want to point out that much has happened to shape CEIAG work in schools and it is not always a case of light and dark, purely positive and purely negative with policy decisions. There is room for shade and, with hard work and inspiration from all involved in school CEIAG, there is potential to achieve positive outcomes for students within the framework that is now established.

An Aspiration Nation – report by the National Careers Council

An Aspiration Nation > Creating a culture change in careers provision is the first offspring to pop forth from the new(ish) body, the National Careers Council.

It’s delivery comes with a bit of rumpus to help publicise it as two of the founding members of the Council resigned in pre-emptive unrest at what it was to include. But I’m not going to dwell on that as there’s already a never-ending LinkedIn thread you can find which discusses it all in great detail.

The report does though talk a lot about schools as it demands a “culture change” in careers provision on offer for young people and has a few suggestions for how the both Schools should tackle this and how the National Careers Service could spread it’s remit to provide an umbrella of structure to, what we’re constantly told has become, the very fractured and sporadic work of careers in schools across the country.

It asks the NCS to:

build capacity in schools, to ensure the effective and efficient dissemination of national

and local LMI, and to promote the wide adoption of quality standards.


provide more schools and colleges with professional development support, offer advice on lesson plans linked to the curriculum, and share exemplars of good practice, information for apprenticeships, traineeships, further education and higher education routes

In fact, that sounds a bit familiar, maybe someone else also suggested something along those lines….

*waits for applause*

Meanwhile us schools should:

Ensure that all students understand the range of career routes open to them and how to access information necessary to underpin informed choices

Make available face-to-face guidance to all pupils from Year 8 onwards

Have strong links with employers who are able to contribute to pupils’ education by raising their awareness and giving insights about the range of careers open to them

Have access to high-quality and up-to-date labour market intelligence
(LMI) and information about all education and vocational education
training routes pre- and post-16

Help young people develop competences to be able to transfer their
knowledge and skills, be resilient and adaptable within changing
sectors and economies

Work with parents to raise awareness about career routes and to
challenge stereotypes

Have access to quality-assured careers providers and professionally
qualified career development professionals to provide face-to-face

Ensure that all leavers have a planned progression route
Integrate career management skills into a broad and balanced

Which is extremely sensible and similar to the Guidance document the Dfe put out with the new duty.

It’s good stuff, couldn’t argue with any of it. No one in their right mind would.

But that’s also kind of a problem. The report reads as if it knows it’s stuck between a rock and a hard place and seems to offer all of its clearly diplomatic recommendations with a weary shrug that make it sound like a Goldilocks recipe for porridge. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. And don’t ever, ever ask where the money’s coming from to pay for it.

The Government has already responded to the Select Committee report on Careers with a stonewall rejection of the some of the best ideas like the requirement of schools to publish an annual plan of Careers provision. We also know that the Ofsted review will publish soon and will probably contain the sort of case studies of brilliant work included in Annex 2 of today’s report. Ofsted has already said it will inspect Careers in schools from September so the forthcoming report seems to me a good opportunity for them to disseminate best practice.

There are big ideas in the report, large scale ambitions for collaborative working across business and all stages of education, and the pleas for the NCS to get involved in the UKCES LMI For All Project and involve themselves in the large Careers based events such as National Careers Week make eminent sense.

Overall though, the section of the report dealing with schools reads like the authors knew that the Dfe well of patience had run dry and that, to best nurture the hope of getting things done, the colouring had to stay between the lines.