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Taken before the Education Committee
on Wednesday 31 October 2012
Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)
Mr David Ward
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: David Pollard, Chair, Education, Skills and Business Support Policy Group, Federation of Small Businesses, David Walrond, Principal, Truro and Penwith College, Paul Jackson, Chief Executive, Engineering UK, and Peter Searle, CEO of Adecco Group UK & Ireland, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: Good morning, gentlemen. Thank you very much for coming to this session of the Education Committee this morning, at which we are inquiring into careers guidance for young people. Can I start off by asking you whether career guidance actually matters? Peter, you made eye contact.
Peter Searle: Do you want us to introduce ourselves first?
Chair: No, I would like to go straight into questions. If I wanted you to introduce yourself, I would have asked you to do so.
Mr Ward: We do have biographical details.
Peter Searle: Okay, so you know our backgrounds and qualifications.
It does matter a lot. Obviously, my company, Adecco, is in the recruitment industry. We spend all day, every day, employing people. We deal with customers every day, so we deal with UK plc every single day. We have 34,000 people working in the UK, and 500,000 people working worldwide. For us it is very important that the people who go into a workplace have the right qualifications, are of the right quality and have the right attitude. Right now it would look as if that would not necessarily be the case as people come out of our schools and universities. It is very important for us that we look at the reasons for that, what we can do about that, and how we as an organisation that sits between employers and those people going into jobs can help that and make that happen, and make those people more employable than they are today.
Q2 Chair: You seemed to do primarily an introduction to yourself anyway, Peter, without answering my question as to whether careers guidance helps in regard to the points you just made.
Peter Searle: Yes, it does, Graham.
Q3 Chair: How and why?
Peter Searle: Careers guidance makes a massive difference to candidates, for us in our case, and people coming out of university and school. If they are not given the right guidance in the first place, they are not given the opportunity to look at the right qualifications or the right way they can educate themselves so that when they leave school they are in the right place to get jobs with employers.
So what are employers looking for? We recently ran a survey, and 36% of employers said they thought that people joining the workplace were not prepared for the workplace they were going into. Somewhere in the region of 91% said that soft skills were most important, but 41% said that the people going into employment with them did not have the soft skills required.
Q4 Chair: I am trying to work out how careers guidance would have changed that. If you are saying the school curriculum, the focus of schools and what they value does not produce those qualities or give those skills to young people, that would be one thing. That would not necessarily be solved by pouring billions into careers guidance; it would not necessarily change the outcomes. I am trying to get to that, but I will move to Paul.
Paul Jackson: Can I give a different perspective on this? We support a couple of thousand schools. I am from the engineering sector and it is about 25% of the economy. We are short of people in the engineering sector. Why are we short of people? It is because subject choices that are made in school that lead on to the opportunity to get involved in the sector are made without full information.
It is clear that young people have to be able to make those choices for themselves, but let us give them the information so it is a properly informed choice. At the moment, it is not. We ask young people about their knowledge of our sector. Last year about 11% had a decent knowledge. This year it has gone up to 19%. That is progress, but actually that means 81% have not got a clue and do not see it as a possibility. Engineering jobs are pretty well paid, so from a social mobility point of view we are blocking out a large number of the population, and it is a fundamental building block for growth in the economy.
Q5 Neil Carmichael: That is a really interesting point you have raised. I am very keen to promote engineering. One of the things I worry about is the lack of understanding in the education sector of the needs of the business community, especially the engineering and manufacturing parts of it. There seems to be a complete disconnect between what is churned out of the education system and what is taken up by the business world. Do you think we can improve that by getting a better grip on the data that businesses must have for their own long-term labour market plans, and how do we manage to get that interface between schools, colleges and the business world?
Paul Jackson: That is absolutely fundamental. We have been working in the Midlands with the help of a consultancy group, looking at the way businesses work with schools. We found it was quite piecemeal. They went almost randomly to different age groups rather than having a plan for which ones they were trying to go to. The types of activity they used-awareness raising activity, curriculum related or direct careers activity-was pretty random as well. With that assistance, in the Midlands we now have several companies working together to do a programme of careers outreach into schools. They are already reaching out into 100 schools in the area.
I met with Birmingham City Council last night and they are really enthusiastic about this. They see it as being fundamental to skills in their area and future prosperity. Engaging with business as part of careers information advice and guidance is fundamental, but it will not happen if it is left to a random process. This is where the intervention is needed to create a framework for business to get involved effectively. If you are a manufacturer, it is not your core business to visit schools; it is to make whatever the product is and to meet your customers. But there is wonderful enthusiasm, a willingness to get involved, and there is resource there.
Q6 Chair: David Pollard, from a college perspective, does careers guidance matter to allow people to get on the right paths to enter employment?
David Pollard: I am from the FSB, not a college.
Chair: Oh, sorry, that is David Walrond.
David Walrond: In answer to your question, yes, impartial careers and progression guidance is crucial. Just as in teaching and learning, this Government is trying to make sure that social and hard capital alone does not count. In parallel, careers advice is important so that where people get what work they do and how they progress is not dependent on the social or hard capital of families. That is why it is crucial. There is a parallel as to what needs to happen in careers advice and guidance to teaching and learning. The social mobility agenda in terms of education should extend into careers advice as well.
Q7 Chair: Do you find it hard to communicate to children in schools the benefits of what colleges offer because of the behaviour of schools and the vested interest that schools have?
David Walrond: There are two answers to that. Cornwall has 30 schools, half with sixth forms and half without. Our relationship with 11-to-16 schools works really well. We have taster days, arranged visits to us and arranged visits from us to them. In terms of the quality of the students that we interview, we have a good evidence base because we interview every student for 30 minutes, and have over 2,500 such interviews a year. 11-to-16 schools generally in Cornwall are doing a very good job, whereas 11-to-18 schools generally are not. We are effectively in competition with them and find it very difficult to gain access to them.
Recently I corresponded with John Hayes in his previous role, and he was explaining that this was a post-16 market. I said it needs a regulator and quality of information, if you like, and it needs good access for all providers in that market. We do not have any pull without entering the schools. I did write to them all, at his suggestion, asking if it would be possible to come and visit, because he thought I was being needlessly gloomy about their willingness to respond on this. One said possibly, one is still thinking about it, and all the others either said no or did not deign to reply.
Q8 Chair: Do you know if the Association of Colleges or anyone else has data on it? If we are to prompt change, then, as you say, the current situation is wondering whether you are exaggerating. But I know in my area a third of schools are banning the FE College from coming in to open days, and it is that bad because of their institutional interest in protecting their sixth form.
David Walrond: Formal data is fairly compelling, but I think there are other ways of looking at the data. The AoC data on how aware people are in Year 9 and 10 about the options beyond A Level, for example, is fairly compelling. For example, we as a college are half A Level and half vocational. We find that the awareness of A Level is reasonable even in 11-18 schools, although the full range of A Levels is not understood. Awareness of the IB, for example, which is much prized and sought after, is very limited. We are the only state education provider in Cornwall that does the IB.
The awareness of Level 3 vocational education and the ability of some students to actually name it, understand it and know what the entry requirements are and where it could lead is very limited. That is demoralising, because when you interview students the 11-to-16 schools are very well prepared, but with the 11-to-18 schools you are very often starting with a blank sheet. The interview is then not focused on narrowing down within the engineering sector or whatever but explaining to them what is out there. That is wrong; that should and could have been done before.
Q9 Mr Ward: As well as Paul, I think you also have an engineering background, David. Is that true?
David Pollard: Yes.
Mr Ward: We have a cohort of young people now whose parents’ parents did not do manufacturing and engineering. How much of that is an issue? The first career guidance we get really is from our parents, and this has been systemic in labour market changes. How much of that is an issue that we need to deal with?
Paul Jackson: From the annual survey we do of public attitudes, it is a massive issue. If we want to expand the number of people who come in to science and engineering, then we cannot have it based on face-to-face advice from their parents because it is a limited number of people that will give them that advice. Certainly, engineering is also male dominated, so very few young women are coming into the profession. Again, there is very much a social mobility issue there. Around a third of parents feel they are able to give advice on this sort of subject area, from our surveys, and clearly that is blocking out two-thirds of young people as a result.
What we have seen with initiatives such as our Big Bang Fairs, which 50,000 to 60,000 people come along to, is that parents are really hungry for the information. They warm to careers in manufacturing, science and engineering. They would like to be able to support their kids, but they do not have the information. We literally have them queuing around the block to come and find information to be able to pass that on, and it is something we would like to do much more of.
Q10 Ian Mearns: Obviously you are representing four quite different sectors. When we ask a question of employers, we quite often get different answers. From your perspective as organisations that receive young people as trainees and employees from school, what would you say the purpose of careers guidance should be?
David Pollard: If you take careers guidance in its widest context, what it has got to do is educate young people so they know how the labour market works and they understand the routes they have into employment. Within the FSB our members have had the same experiences as Truro and Penwith College, in a sense, that vocational qualifications and working in small businesses and so on are not mentioned. It is, "Do your A Levels, go to university," and that is the only route. Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications do not get mentioned. That is the first requirement.
The second one is to give them realistic expectations about careers and entry-level jobs so that we can get away from the X Factor effect, whereby people think that they can suddenly go into a job and get a fantastic salary, and they recognise that working in a small business is a valid career opportunity, as is starting and building their own business. The most important thing is really to inspire them so that they realise just how many careers and what options there are out there, and they really decide to work and follow their dream. If we can start it early enough when they are at school, they will realise that if they want to go into engineering they have to buckle down and do some maths and science alongside some other subjects in their GCSEs.
Q11 Chair: How would you inspire entrepreneurs? What needs to change to do a better job of promoting self-employment as a possible future for people?
David Pollard: One of the ways to inspire entrepreneurs is Young Enterprise, where they set up and run their own business in school. The FSB are very keen supporters of that. I am a business adviser with schools in Hampshire doing that sort of thing. It is amazing how well and how quickly those young people take to it. Certainly when I was at the national finals in London this year, some of the companies there had got products that they were planning to take to market in a professional and continuing fashion after the end of their Young Enterprise year.
Q12 Ian Mearns: You mentioned starting young in terms of careers advice and guidance. An awful lot of advice and guidance that is available currently quite often comes too late for youngsters who have already done their options at the end of Key Stage 3 to go into Key Stage 4. Do you think younger than that would be important?
David Pollard: Yes, you have to start the process ideally when they are leaving primary school and going on to secondary school. At an apprenticeship meeting I heard someone reporting that all the big engineering companies send their apprentices out to secondary schools to promote apprenticeships. I then heard that Bentley Motors were actually sending them into primary schools, because if they talked to the children, and started to motivate and inspire them at primary school so that when they started secondary school they were thinking about maybe an apprenticeship with Bentley, they would have a focus and drive to work at their maths, science and other GSCE subjects so that they would be able to get on to the programme.
Q13 Ian Mearns: To what extent has effective careers advice and guidance been delivered in the past? Do you think this is likely to change or improve under the new arrangements, where there is supposed to be a universal offer, albeit offered more remotely?
Paul Jackson: Could I come in on that? It has not worked in the past. It is not that we are looking back on a golden era where it has been perfect. The fact that we found that only 11% of young people knew anything about engineering and could see that as a career option tells you that something was not working. Why is that? It was not starting early enough. Year 7 is the latest point to start, and the current proposals are to start probably from Year 8. That is too late. You are already in what is known as the Year 8 dip, where there is the lack of motivation, and having arrived at secondary school, maths and science look very difficult. We need to be bridging that Year 8 dip starting at least in Year 7 with good guidance. That is incredibly important.
The other thing about the new proposals is they are largely web based and not very face to face. We found that face to face is absolutely essential. Young people will get faceto-face guidance from someone who does not know what they are talking about who they happen to come across, or they will get well informed guidance that will be useful. With our initiatives, we go out to around 2,000 schools. There are around 100 schools that come to us and ask for information without us going out and finding them. There is a 20:1 ratio, so a passive service is not going to be effective.
Q14 Ian Mearns: Does everybody agree with that?
Peter Searle: Yes, I would like to echo what David and Paul have said. When I was at school the people who inspired me were my teachers. It is very interesting that many of our teachers today don’t actually have any experience of industry themselves. They do not know what happens in a company or anything about the structure and the jobs that are available. They are therefore not personally able to inspire students themselves. When we talk about collaboration and what we will do and what difference we can make, we need to say that employers need to link up not just with pupils and graduates but with the teachers themselves. The teachers have to be inspired in order to inspire the pupils that they are going to teach going through. Also they have to understand what a company consists of.
When you talk about engineering, if you say to an average student, "Go into engineering," they say, "Well, that’s really boring. Why do I want to be an engineer? It’s all blokes, it’s dirty and greasy, and I’m going to go nowhere." Actually engineering is a amazingly interesting. It is high tech, extremely challenging, it takes you round the world and is a phenomenal career, but how many pupils would ever know that was what engineering was about? That is what we really want to do. When we say we want to give people options, it is not about giving them options to do biology or history or economics. It is about options to do something that will enable them to achieve the career they want to go into.
You can only do that if people know what actually happens in a company. Therefore, companies working much more closely with not just the pupils in schools but also with the teachers themselves, who I believe ought to also do placements, would be one way of making people aware of the opportunities that exist in industry today. I think we have missed that completely. Also, they need to know how we expect people to act every day at work, because they go in and they do not even know how to socialise or discuss or have conversations with their peers.
As one of my fellow witnesses said, they expect everything to be given to them, the X Factor case, as opposed to starting at the beginning and working their way up. What is missing is an awareness of what the real world is actually about and what is exciting about it.
David Walrond: Can I just add to the social capital and social mobility answer I gave earlier? What careers guidance has always been is a balance between what an individual wants to do, and, at the other end of that spectrum, what UK plc needs, for want of a better term. I know the panel’s education and training includes philosophy, classics and politics.
Q15 Chair: When you say panel, do you mean the Select Committee members?
David Walrond: Yes. When you were doing that, I don’t think-I cannot attribute motives to you-that uppermost in your mind was contributing to a multiple and flexible multiskilled workforce. There is always a reason why people want to do things for themselves. We have to try to temper that with something that is not X Factor-type wish fulfilment, and say, "Yes, it is important to do something that you love and enjoy, otherwise life gets a bit tedious, but do something that is going to earn you a living and will be useful, and you will find there is a career pathway." Colleges do have commercial and industrial experience. Schools may not; I cannot speak for them.
In terms of our sector involvement, we are involved across most subject sector skill areas. If you are teaching something like the National Diploma in Engineering, you have got to have recent commercial and industrial experience in that, and you have to upgrade it, whether that is health and social care or media production or whatever it is. We are inspected on that, and it is part of the way in which we are judged.
Q16 Chair: Talking about getting pupils experienced and also about teachers having greater understanding, do you have teachers come into your college? Whenever I go to secondary schools, I have a game. I ask the teachers I meet whether they have ever set foot in their local further education college. I enjoy playing the game because the answer is invariably no-they have never set foot in it. If you want teachers to be more open to what you have got, what are you doing to ensure teachers are invited on to do something that they find fun, stimulating and do not say no to, and therefore have some concept of where you are, what you are and what you offer?
David Walrond: As per my earlier answer, we write to schools and invite them to us and ourselves to them. We get a dusty answer on that. With 11-to-16 schools we have reciprocal governance arranged, and it works really well. Most of my senior team are on the governing bodies of 11-to-16 schools, and we have two or three 11-16 heads on our governing body, so the exchange there is really good.
Q17 Chair: So what percentage do you think of local secondary teachers have ever set foot in your college?
David Walrond: Most of them will because we are central. It is Truro, it is Cornwall, and we serve as a meeting point for them. Some of them step in there with mixed feelings, especially if they are 11-to-18 schools, but they do come to us.
Can I just say one more thing? There is a caricature sometimes about people getting to the end of their education, turning round and saying, "Goodness me, I was doing textiles, film, music and dance, and I didn’t realise I needed biology or chemistry to be a doctor." That is a silly caricature, but beneath that there are levels of information and misinformation that are really very crucial. I think the extremes are wrong, but in between there is underinformation and misinformation. You were asking for robust evidence; it is the survey on information, advice and guidance for careers and colleges, in March 2012. Our experience is typical. I think Cornwall is quite an extreme case, and that is why it is quite good to illustrate.
Q18 Craig Whittaker: I just wanted to tease out a little bit, Peter, your comments on teachers. Do you think it should be compulsory for teachers to go and do work experience?
Peter Searle: I do. I think it is essential. Regardless of David’s comments, I believe that most teachers don’t actually understand industry. They might understand secondary education and going into it, but the reality is to inspire people you have to understand what actually happens in a company. Many of our teachers now go straight from university themselves, go back and become teachers and have no experience of it. I would hope that their passion was that they would want to inspire their pupils.
Q19 Craig Whittaker: Does anyone have a different view to that?
Paul Jackson: I have the same view, but some stats as well. Nine out of 10 teachers want to give careers information, advice and guidance. Eight out of 10 tell us in our annual survey that they will base it on their own experience. So if that experience is school, university, back to school, they will not have that element. We need to help by filling that in.
David Pollard: Back in the 1980s when I ran an engineering company we used to get teachers coming in at Easter for a week of work experience. We had deputy heads and classroom teachers coming in, so at that particular point they were doing it. Even though it is good to get teachers into business, to see something and to learn about business, because they have gone quite often from university straight into teaching, that is not enough. If you are going to get young people and inspire them so that they can come up with the desire to follow a career that is completely different to the one that their local family circle and so on would suggest to them, they have got to be exposed to an awful lot of people in different careers. The only way you can do that is to start getting events where people go into school and talk about things.
The first event that I ever did as a business ambassador was in Southampton. I went into the school and I was given a young lad as my host to make sure I got to the right rooms at the right time and I got my coffee when it was due. We got into conversation just before the start of the event, and as a result of that he learned that I was an aeronautical engineer, and I learned that he was keen on maths and what have you, and engineering. When he came back at the mid-morning break to take me off so I could get my coffee and biscuits, he turned up with three friends, and they wanted to sit with me and talk about engineering and aircraft, and what they would need to do at school if they wanted to go into that sort of career, and what sort of work they would do. We spent 20 minutes or so just doing that, because they did not have it; it was something they could not get from family.
Q20 Ian Mearns: You may find it encouraging that even MPs are actually doing work experience, working with the Industry and Parliament Trust. You may find that a little bit encouraging. In addition to careers guidance, though, talking about the other end of the telescope rather than just teachers getting out into industry, how can industry better facilitate a broad work experience programme for young people so that young people can experience for themselves what is going on out there? Many employers do engage in this process, but many do not. It is the many that do not that we need to encourage to get into that so that young people have a better understanding of what awaits them when they leave the sanctuary of the education field.
David Walrond: Can I just answer on that? To link into Craig’s question, I don’t think the aim of Government policy is to turn teachers into careers advisers. They are not careers advisers; they are teachers. It is to get them to refer to impartial, not just independent, advice and guidance. That is the common point for where industry, employers and business can link to the impartial National Careers Service, and teachers can refer to it with confidence as well. That is the problem. An employer can go to an individual college, even a college with 5,000 16 to 19-year-olds-it would be a good gig actually, and it would be worth going-but they would much rather not have to have individual relationships with lots of schools and colleges.
Neither the teachers nor the employers, in a sense, have the burden of the responsibility. For impartial and independent careers advice, the burden of responsibility needs to go to a service. Matrix accreditation, which about 78% of colleges have, is probably the nearest it gets to genuinely impartial careers advice and guidance. If you have whole college Matrix accreditation, and Truro and Penwith College does, that is a strong, reliable hallmark that what is being given there is not just their opinion.
Chair: Thank you, David. We have got quite a bit more to cover and limited time. So we move to David, from the small business perspective.
Q21 Ian Mearns: Work experience.
David Pollard: One of the big problems with work experience for small businesses is it always comes at the same time. It is two weeks at a particular time, and all the schools in the area are sending out all their classes at the same time. It is a big problem for a small business to cope with. Some sort of approach where different schools did it at different times during the term, or different classes in the same school did it at different times, would ease the problem.
Q22 Ian Mearns: So you are looking at schools to be imaginative as to how they get their young people out there into work experience?
David Pollard: Yes, and I would also even question whether it has to be two weeks. It could be a series of one- or two-day events where they go and work-shadow someone. The benefit of doing it that way is that the two weeks could then be spent in different types of companies to give them a spectrum of opportunity.
Peter Searle: One of the issues we identified, when we did the study and spoke to employers, was that the placements they got were unstructured. Most of them came through people’s parents who had said, "Can you look after them in your HR department for two weeks, please, and do something with them?" and they sat there filing.
If we really want to make work placements effective, we have to have them structured so that they are expected to sit in the accounts, legal and HR departments and come back with a full appreciation of what a company actually does. We are all a little bit more mature than most of our children, and of course we take for granted that we know what a company does. But most children have no idea at all of what jobs exist in that company and what they mean. If we really want that work placement to be effective, it needs to be far more closely monitored, far more structured, and it needs to even be part of the curriculum, because I think we should have employability skills classes.
Q23 Pat Glass: The duty to provide impartial advice from schools has only come into place this academic year. I was interested in what Paul said about looking back to a golden age with connections. Given that, do you think this will make the situation of getting the right children with the rights skills and experience into the right jobs better or worse?
Paul Jackson: In the short term it is likely to make it worse, because it is more focused on subject choices than career choices. One would hope these would be linked, so young people would be fully informed and choosing subjects that suit them but also create opportunities for them in the future. If they are merely based on the popularity of a subject or the subject teacher, then we are building up problems for ourselves in the future. In the science and engineering world, they will all be doing forensic science, and there are not many jobs in it.
They will not be looking at the wider opportunities that might actually deliver what they are looking for: a forensic approach to things that they could do in the engineering world rather than following forensic science. There might be something that is really well suited to them, but they do not do the right subjects and pursue the right area. So short term I think there is a real problem, and we do need to be really quite proactive about supporting the teaching force and supporting schools to provide that broader advice so it does not fall back to a website plus subject advice.
Q24 Pat Glass: You said something about children needing to get this careers advice in Year 7, possibly Year 6, because they are not making the right choices in GCSEs to lead them on to the careers that they need to do. David, is that what you are experiencing in college? Are children coming in having taken the wrong subjects for the A Levels or BTECs that they subsequently want to do?
David Walrond: There is an element of that, but I think at age 16 you can still put that right. There are various things; you can have another go at college, and it ranges from maths and English GCSEs to saying there are pathways now, as long as we can get the information out there. For example, we had 308 applications from schools after GCSE results day, and that should not happen. That was the first point of contact we had; they had not applied before.
In your earlier question you asked whether the new arrangements are going to make things better or worse. I would say that the new arrangements are going to give an added premium to social capital and to hard capital, and people who do not have that, or are not rich in either, will suffer. One of the mantras that was put out at the time was that we were going to leave careers guidance to schools to commission, because they know what is best for their students.
The particular dismay with which we heard that phrase was intense because that has been the very formula put forward by them, and all we want is 15 minutes during the five years, 11 to 16, not marketing but information. If it is premised on knowing what is best for their learners, you keep that in the hands of schools, which, understandably, have got a vested interest in trying to keep learners with them because funding and everything else is dependent on that.
David Pollard: It is very difficult for me from the FSB perspective to add anything to the discussion because we are not great experts in the whole education system.
Q25 Pat Glass: Thank you. We have heard suggestions of careers guidance at Years 6 and 7 to impact on this. Are there any other things you can think of that would improve this? We are hearing, for instance, that 74% of colleges are saying that they cannot even get their prospectus delivered in schools. What is it that we need to do to improve this impartiality issue?
David Walrond: In the draft statutory guidance there was an obligation on schools to just invite us in, and 15 minutes would be fine. In my more frustrated moments I have even said to local heads, "Look, I will mime to a recording if you want, so that you can actually know in advance what I am going to say. I will be chaperoned on the stage." When the final draft of that statutory guidance came out, that obligation on schools to just invite colleges in had disappeared, and I think that was a retrograde step.
It is very early days yet, but our experience is of less-informed students coming through already rather than more-informed students, and that schools are struggling sometimes to commission independent, never mind impartial, advice and guidance. Of course, if they are the commissioning agent, then it begs the question of if they are paying the piper, I suppose.
Q26 Pat Glass: Is this particularly an issue with 11-to-18 schools?
David Walrond: Oh, yes.
Pat Glass: You said earlier that there is not such a problem with the 11-to-16 schools.
David Walrond: The problem is much more intense in 11-to-18 schools, because, in fairness to them, they have got a vested interest in trying to keep learners post 16. It is not a question of not trusting them, but in all sorts of other areas the Government is saying, "Yes, we trust the professionals, but in terms of assessment, curriculum content and assessment policy, we are going to monitor and intervene." So careers guidance is an area where we could intervene.
Q27 Pat Glass: We are about providing recommendations, so what would you recommend we do to improve that situation?
David Walrond: Ask all schools to get Matrix accreditation. I would say there is an obligation where there is a significant post16 college provider locally to just give them the chance to come in and present the full range of options, both of the curriculum in terms of engineering but also in terms of IB, extended national diplomas and the qualifications out there other than A Levels.
Q28 Chair: Short of a duty being imposed on schools to allow you in for so many minutes or whatever, would it be helpful if Ofsted, when they looked into this, always asked that question?
David Walrond: Ofsted should inspect and grade careers advice and guidance in schools.
Q29 Chair: David, you are quite clear: it is just a mistake to give the duty for impartial, independent advice to schools, because they are incapable of fulfilling it because of their own institutional interest. Is that your view, Paul?
Paul Jackson: I take a slightly softer view. The duty being with schools is okay if the support is there and if the mechanism to monitor it is there. But if it does not start early enough-and for me that is Year 7-and if it does not include face to face, business and post16 providers, then it is not right, and Ofsted should mark that down.
Q30 Chair: Peter, do you have a view on that?
Peter Searle: I concur that employers should be far more involved in those processes and conversations.
Q31 Chair: What about where this duty rests? I always find it odd when you talk about education. People involved in business suddenly get all soft around accountability and incentives, whereas in their own world they are crystal clear about the need for alignment between incentives for the people and for the organisation. Yet when it comes to education, they assume everyone is just going to do the right thing. I put it to you that there is not the slightest chance of schools doing the right thing. Their institutional interest tends to do the opposite, and yet you come here from business and say, "Oh, well probably with a little bit of support they will." Why will they do what is not in their interest just because it is in the interest of kids?
Paul Jackson: I take a pretty kind view of teachers in the sense we all know lots of them, and they go into the teaching profession because they want to do the best for the kids.
Q32 Chair: People go into sales for the best reasons in the world, but if you incentivise them to do the wrong thing for your company, they will do the wrong thing for your company. It is not because they are bad people; it is because you have the wrong set of incentives for them.
Paul Jackson: That is why we need outcomes. The outcomes are incredibly important.
Q33 Ian Mearns: Do you remember what the late Malcolm Wicks said when he was a shadow minister? He regarded what was being done in some institutions as being akin to pensions mis-selling because of the bums on seats funding regimes that these institutions survive by.
Paul Jackson: Absolutely, so we need to look at the outcomes, in terms of the career destinations, college courses and so on.
Peter Searle: Isn’t there a major issue that, because they are all graded by it, schools are driven to get qualifications as being the top measure? It is not about which A Levels you do; it is how many A**** A Levels your pupils achieve in order to attract new pupils to your school. If you don’t do it, you get put down.
Q34 Chair: Do you want them to be given the role of independent, impartial provision of careers advice?
Peter Searle: We do; they are the only influencers because they are the ones who are on site, but they are being influenced to do the wrong behaviour. You want them to influence to do the right behaviour: to teach people soft skills, employable skills and things that are useful to industry. So you need industry to sit down with schools and say, "This is what we need," and then the schools to be incentivised to achieve those goals. At the moment Government and everybody is driving them in a completely wrong direction because they can only get pupils if they are top of the list.
Q35 Neil Carmichael: We are getting into a really important area here. Of course the motivation of schools and colleges is the bums on seats, the leagues tables and so forth. What kind of framework do you think would work where we were talking about the pupil or the student’s destination in terms of the measurement of success in a school and, I was going to ask David Walrond, for colleges?
David Walrond: FE Choices does look at progression data and what counts as good progression beyond simply a league table of Alevel performance scores. The key thing is there is a diversification of gender out there in education at the moment. My understanding is there will be a market with more providers post 14, UTCs, free schools coming in and more providers post 16. The key thing is if these providers don’t get to present their offers post 14 and post 16, that diversification agenda is going to flounder; it won’t happen. So even if there is not a moral argument, and I think there is, for empowering young people, there is a strong political one.
I am sorry to sound harsher than business, and it is not often said of me, but the other point is you can intervene in what is taught-and this Government is-how it is assessed, and how it is rated in league tables. So surely you can take a slightly firmer line on careers advice and guidance.
Q36 Chair: Could we return to Paul? Paul was nodding there. I am trying to tease you out into a stronger position. I would add studio schools to your list. There is a market post 14, and yet the guardianship of the information as to how you make those choices is resting with institutions that have an interest other than full provision of all the possible options open to kids. How can that be okay with sufficient support?
Paul Jackson: The change is at 14; that is another reason why you have to start at least in Year 7 so that it is not advice one week and then making the choice the following week. Our experience of working with FE has been quite interesting. Our Big Bang Fairs are delivered in some cases by FE colleges. So Westminster, Kingsway and London delivered one for the London region. They had 2,000 kids come along and visit it, and a lot of teachers with them, and they had schools that had never crossed the threshold of the FE college before come along because there was a science and engineering fair going on there, rather than it being an FE open day, but they did triple the number of physics applicants the following year for their A Level courses.
There are ways of systematically assisting and making a difference to the young people so that they end up making the right choice for them. We did post-event surveys with visitors to our national fair, and we found that around 50% of teachers take the material from the fair where they meet with businesses, and they get curriculum support as well, and they use it in the classroom afterwards. It is these kinds of stats that make me optimistic that you can end up with a different result, and they will not only think about whether they have got a bum on the seat in the sixth form. Clearly we need to get away from that, and we do need to look at the outcomes that are right for the young people.
Q37 Neil Carmichael: I actually ran a festival of manufacturing engineering in my constituency for a week to promote schools and colleges in terms of their interests in engineering and manufacturing. I got 300 people in some connection with business during that week, and I thought that was quite successful. What I noticed, though, was the mediumsized and bigger firms were more able to accommodate children, pupils and students. I also noticed the school timetable was something of a mystery to businesses, and it was quite clunky in the way it could respond to opportunities. That said, it does seem to me that we need to open up a dialogue, so I have got two questions.
Paul, if you think about the number of institutions and so forth in the world of engineering, and I think it notches up to about 200, how do you actually get the message across about what engineering really is? Too many people still seem to think it is the person who opens the bonnet and checks your battery rather than designing, innovating and all the rest of it. There is that kind of marketing issue; it still needs to be refined, so I would like to know if you have got any thoughts on that. Then I was going to talk about the role of school leadership.
Chair: You can ask about, not talk about, Neil.
Neil Carmichael: Yes, I will talk about it, and then ask the question. It is about the role of school leadership in being much more aggressive in finding the opportunities in the business world. I am just wondering how we might encourage school leaders to do that. I am encroaching on an area that I have persuaded this Committee to look into, which is the role of governance and governors. I am wondering if we can strengthen business input in that way. So Paul, can you talk about engineering, and David and David, the issue about this interface between schools and business?
Paul Jackson: If I answer the question on engineering first, I don’t think we were very good at it in the past. Yes, we have got 36 engineering institutions; there are 300 websites promoting STEM careers. We used to try to tell young people what they must become rather than showing them the breadth of what they could become. That has changed, and the Big Bang Fair is something that we organise, but there are 180 organisations that deliver through that and present that much broader face. We have now got the engineering institutions-in fact they are meeting just up the road at the moment-working together on careers information pre-16, so that, rather than telling them they must become a mechanical engineer or some other variety, we present that broader face.
We have had to get much better at it, and some of the comments I have made are based on the bitter experience we have had and the mistakes we have made in the past. I think we are getting much better now at showing the broader opportunity, and what needs to happen in schools to allow that to be the case. That involves taking physics and maths at school and so on, which of course many young women are blocked out from post 16. The IOP’s study showed that, in half of state co-ed schools, no girls go on to take A Level physics. There are some very real issues that we are trying to address early, but there are some key decision points where much more work is needed.
David Walrond: It is a formula, but parity of esteem is important. I still think there is a bias sometimes towards arts and humanities, even things like the EBacc and the facilitating subjects, if you look at them. What is in the curriculum is really important. It is not just maths. It is further maths, physics, computing, engineering, design and technology in resistant materials, and design and technology in product design. These are really important, so it is not just the knowledge of what is out there. It is genuinely according them esteem, which we have not been very good at. Some of the more traditional educational arguments are pushing us down a path towards an idea of what is right and good to study, which is not necessarily going to support engineering, but then it is having the range of curriculum choices that will really facilitate progression into engineering thereafter.
David Pollard: Going to your point about getting businesses involved with schools and schools involved with businesses, particularly with small businesses, it is very difficult to know where to go, how to start and how to approach a school and say, "I would like to do something to help. What can I do and how does it fit in?" It is also difficult looking at it from the schools’ side to say, "Which companies can I go to and can I find?"
One model that I have seen work very well in South Hampshire is the Education Business Partnership. The Solent EBP is very effective. It runs a major careers fair every year and it gets lots of companies there. It brings all the schoolchildren in so that they can see it. They have topped that off with a jobs fair afterwards in the evening for people who are looking for jobs in those companies. They run things like STEM events, where they bring companies in science, technology and engineering together with students interested in those sorts of areas from a whole group of schools, who come round and see the different sorts of opportunities and things being done in STEM organisations. They run a whole series of programmes taking people into schools to do different things. I am doing one in June for them, which is a business master class. It is all about setting up, starting and running a business. There are a whole host of similar things that can be done. They act as the broker. They build the network with the business people and the schools, and then they bring things together. That works well.
Q38 Neil Carmichael: Peter, your business background includes Delphi, a firm that is represented in my constituency, making injectors for diesel engines. They do have an outstandingly good apprenticeship scheme and go on to train people extraordinarily well. There is a question I really want to ask you, because I think it is relevant one. If you go to Germany you see much more synergy between the educational situation and business. It is absolutely there; it stares you in the face. If you talked to the equivalent of our CBI in Germany, or indeed the employees’ representations, you get that sense and it hits you like a wall in comparison with what happens here. You all nodded when I said Germany, because you have clearly got that sense too.
Chair: The question is?
Neil Carmichael: What is it that we can really take from the German experience and apply to our own? We do need to get this one right.
Chair: On careers guidance: very narrow, very quickly.
Peter Searle: Very quickly: apprenticeships in their case, integration of businesses into schools and incentives by Government to take on people at an early stage and be involved from the age of 16 straight through and take them into their businesses. Stimulation from the teachers there is completely different. Their motivations are completely different. They are not around qualifications but around genuine qualifications for the job they are going to go into, so businesses get involved early in picking people. You stay at school, get trained in schools, and then go out into the workplace. It is as simple as that. It is a much greater integration between them.
Neil Carmichael: That is excellent, thank you.
Chair: Great answer-it had both quality and succinctness.
Q39 Mr Ward: Are there enough hours in a school day for all this? You mentioned, I think, a teacher visiting a firm during the Easter break. Someone mentioned that.
David Pollard: That was me.
Q40 Mr Ward: There was also the issue raised in passing of the mysteries of the school timetable to businesses; I think Neil referred to that. If schools have a responsibility for this, can it be done within the school working week and term timetable?
Paul Jackson: There are enough hours in the week, but if it is not a priority, and if Ofsted are not overseeing it and grading it, or if it is not appearing in a league table, then it will not get those hours. It does not mean extending the working week in schools, but it does mean making it a priority so the time is made available for it.
Q41 Mr Ward: I think we have already covered the issue of the age at which careers guidance should be offered. I think Paul mentioned Bentley in primary schools, and the 2,000-odd schools that are involved at very young ages. Is there anything new to add to that? This may be an opportunity for you to give some examples of work with schools, and particularly younger pupils in schools.
Chair: With guidance starting as late as it does, perhaps you could say where each of you think it should begin to see whether there is any common ground.
David Pollard: I think it should begin at the end of primary school. I saw business and the world of work brought into that when I was involved a couple of years back. It was an induction day in the secondary school for the children coming up from the feeder primary school. They were there for a day in mixed groups from the different schools, and they were given a business caseload to do. They had to go away and come up with an idea for a new ice cream: what it was going to look like, how they were going to package it and sell it; why people would buy it; and what would be the interesting thing that they did. It was amazing what those youngsters came up with. They had some very creative ideas and creative names.
Q42 Chair: That is Year 6, the last year of primary school, is it?
David Pollard: It would have been the last three or four weeks of primary school.
Paul Jackson: The reason I suggest Year 7 is that, if you look at the enjoyment of maths and science in primary school, boys and girls are pretty much equal in their enjoyment. They see it as being valuable; they enjoy the practical work. Within 12 months of getting to secondary school, we appear to have beaten them into submission so that they are no longer enjoying it. Girls particularly have a lower view of science that continues through their academic career in terms of their enjoyment of the subject. It is that Year 8 drop that we need to be dealing with, and providing the support in Year 7.
Do we need to give detailed guidance as early as primary school? Of course not, but it is always useful if that horizon of where the subjects could lead to is always there-the career horizon is visible. As we get further through secondary school, it needs to be much more detailed advice about how to reach their goals.
Q43 Chair: We have had a Year 6 bid and a Year 7 bid. David?
David Walrond: I think Year 7 is fine, but more important than that is the quality of teaching, in dealing with the idea the disjuncture between what happens at the end of primary and going into secondary. Also, the principle, whether it is Year 6, 7 or 8, is to give the learner a clear line of sight to the options, and not get in the way. I know freedom and autonomy for schools is an important part of policy at the moment, but I would just add to that. Coming back to the German model, it is freedom and autonomy for young people as they make these crucial choices. It is not the institution; it is the individual, and I think the focus remorselessly was on the institution. It should be on the young person. Without sounding pious about it, that is the most important thing.
The same principle should apply to what people want for their own kids. What we hate in any profession is where something is done unto the kids of accountants, estate agents or anything else that would not really be good enough for their own.
Peter Searle: Just one last point: it is ridiculous to expect children to decide their entire careers from the age of 11, 12 or 13, or any particular age at an early stage. Career guidance is something that should be built into the curriculum so that all the way through their careers up to the age of 16 or 18 they are given the opportunity to see as wide a spread of business opportunities as possible. People can change their minds at any stage. The basic education system should set them up for both social skills and qualifications, but it should also enable them to see what they are best at as people, and what they should want the rest of their life to be. It is an ongoing process.
Q44 Chair: You don’t work in the world of education, but what would that recommendation look like from us to Government, and how could it be adopted? We might all wish for that general understanding to inform all choices all the way through, but how do you move from where we are now to creating different triggers that make it more likely to be delivered on the ground to a decent quality?
Paul Jackson: I think the links to business are incredibly important, because seeing the career on the horizon is more likely if the links from the school to business are there. I disagree with Peter a little bit in that, in the area of science, technology, engineering and maths, if you have not carried on studying science and maths, you are going to be blocked out as a young person and find it very difficult to move back into it. You can take a science or engineering degree and become a lawyer. You cannot take a law degree and become an engineer or a research scientist. Some of these streets are one-way, and we need to make sure that young people are taking the choices with the full information in front of them.
Chair: Thank you. Craig?
Craig Whittaker: I think all my questions have been answered, Chair.
Chair: Excellent. Thank you all very much indeed for giving evidence to us today. If you have any further thoughts, particularly regarding the business end of what we do, which is making recommendations to Government, please write to us in addition to any submissions you have already made. Thank you very much indeed.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Judith Denyer, Operations Director, Prospects, Mary Vine-Morris, Director of Young People’s Education and Skills, London Councils, Fiona Hilton, 14-19 Officer IAG/NEET/Transition Connexions/School Improvement, Trafford Council, and David Simmonds, Deputy Leader of Hillingdon Council and Chair, Children and Young People Board, LGA, gave evidence.
Q45 Chair: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for coming in for the second session today. I will start off as I did with the last panel, if I may, and not go through introductions and just move straight to questions. I will start off with the Connexions service. Does its demise really matter? I don’t think I have found anyone who felt that it fulfilled all the hopes that people had for it. Should we mourn its demise?
David Simmonds: Good morning, Mr Chairman. There is a mixed picture on Connexions. Nobody could claim that careers advice in the UK has a truly glorious history, and certainly the research we have done through the Local Government Association with young people has produced a variety of feedback. Some said Connexions was absolutely brilliant: it put them back on the right track, gave them a chance of a job and training that they needed. Others said it was a complete waste of time and they think getting rid of it was the best decision ever made.
It is fair to say, in terms of moving from where we are into the future, there are some lessons to be learned. One of the biggest challenges for councils was that funding for the Connexions service was cut in-year , and therefore in effect retrospective. That created a lot of turmoil in the transition of responsibility from the local authority to school level. I suspect a lot of the issues that have come up about the way careers advice is provided at the moment relate to the way that transition has taken place.
Mary Vine-Morris: We do quite a lot of work with young people through Learner Voice London, and one of the things they said to us is they recognised Connexions as a brand. Connexions was something that they knew and recognised, and they knew where to go if they wanted to get advice and guidance. It came up time and time again when you talked to them about where they would go to seek advice. They said, "Connexions." Many of them do not realise Connexions has gone, and that was very significant in our thinking.
Q46 Chair: Is anyone continuing with it? We visited Bradford last week or the week before, and the schools have got the council to help commission a continuing service to fulfil this, and they decided to continue with the brand because it does have a positive ring, it was felt, in Bradford.
Mary Vine-Morris: It does also mean that the National Careers Service is at something of a disadvantage in terms of its profile with young people. Young people are not naturally thinking to go there at the moment for advice and guidance, and certainly for us the big issue is that the National Careers Service does not provide any opportunity for young people to get any face-to-face guidance.
Judith Denyer: I am very much involved in the delivery of what was the Connexions service. I completely agree that it was always patchy, and it did depend very much on the quality of the local delivery. If you look at what we are left with now it has gone, and it is early days depending on where the services have been delivered in the past, it is very much luck of the draw. A young person would get a good service moving forward post Connexions if they are fortunate enough to go to a school that has commissioned impartial IAG from a Matrix-accredited provider.
I think they get a good service if they happen to live in a local authority area that has resourced its targeted support sufficiently. Also, picking up the point that was made, it works perhaps on the Bradford model, where the local authority and the schools have realised that they have got a joint responsibility around the statutory responsibilities and have said, "Let us work together to make this work for young people." If a young person lives in an area with those three key factors, they are not going to miss Connexions. If they don’t, they are going to miss Connexions, because there are massive gaps.
Fiona Hilton: We have retained the Connexions brand in my local authority of Trafford because we asked the youngsters; the youngsters recognised it, because of exactly what you were saying. I think that there is a risk of losing what Connexions was set up to do. Connexions was originally set up so that young people did not drop between agencies. Again, in my local authority we do have a service on the universal side which we deliver in all but two schools and we deliver targeted in all of our schools. If you have not got that, you risk those youngsters having exactly the same issues as we had in the past. A youngster can have everything and all their plans in place one day, and the next day there is an issue with that youngster and all those plans go out of the window. Where you have got a co-ordinated service, you have the flexibility for that young person to move back into the targeted and then move forward on as they need to. Coherence between universal services and targeted services is an area that certainly needs to be looked at as the plans are going forward. If the schools have bought back in sufficient amount, if you have got a good, targeted provision, you will not miss Connexions. If all of those things are not in place, you will do.
Q47 Alex Cunningham: Fiona and Judith have started to answer my first question before I have asked it, which is very helpful. How are schools coping with their new responsibilities for careers guidance? How much freedom do they have, and how is the role fitting with local authorities that are attempting to maintain that universal service, particularly when they no longer have that responsibility? Are they working together or is it patchy? We have got great examples in Bradford and Trafford. I know in my area the Connexions brand is still quite big as well. Is it patchy? Are the schools able to deliver? What is happening?
Judith Denyer: I would say it is patchy. I cover about six areas of London, and even across those areas it is patchy. Even in a single borough of London it is patchy.
Q48 Chair: Could you tell us what the weak bits look like? What is the worst provision that you have seen? You don’t need to name the school. If you want to, we are happy to hear it.
Judith Denyer: No, I won’t.
Chair: Tell us, what is the worst picture you are seeing at the moment?
Judith Denyer: There are schools that have commissioned nothing and have made no arrangements for themselves. They are hoping that they will just get by. We have head teachers saying, "We will be fine. We will just get by." There are some schools that think, "What was happening before was working for our students, so we are going to purchase a commissioned service and we are going to make sure that we get the price right, and you have got to be really good because we are going to be buying this off you. You need to be very good." There are other schools that have probably got a bit of a mixandmatch approach: possibly they are employing their own adviser. Sometimes they are saying, "I have got somebody on the school staff who is going to do this, so we are going to be fine." I have examples of schools that come back in April and say, "Oh God, all our Year 11 students are leaving and they have had no advice and guidance. Can you come in and do a big collapsed timetable day?" Yes, we can, but as a single oneoff event that is not suddenly going to transform a young person’s choices and make effective transition. That event should have been happening in Year 8, Year 9, not at the end of Key Stage 4.
It does really vary, and it does depend, as always, on the senior leaders in an institution, and also on their budget. Some of them did not budget and plan. Some schools definitely wanted to purchase the service because the neighbouring school was. They did not want to be different.
Q49 Chair: How much are we talking about?
Judith Denyer: In terms of price? I would say, on average, most schools are buying back a day a week. Some schools are buying two or three days a week back, but on average it is a day a week.
Q50 Chair: How much does that cost?
Judith Denyer: It would depend on who they were buying off, but I would say probably on average about £200, £220 a day of adviser time.
Q51 Chair: What would the annual budget be for a secondary school?
Judith Denyer: We would have schools buying anything from £7,500 worth of advice and guidance, right up £22,000 worth of advice and guidance.
Chair: That is the kind of field.
Fiona Hilton: It is an interesting point about the funding. Judith said about schools not budgeting for it. The responsibility went across to the schools, but the funding did not go across to them and they clearly then had this hole and had to decide what they were going to do.
Q52 Alex Cunningham: Where has the money gone, Fiona? Was it just a cut?
Fiona Hilton: Yes. The schools now need to find it out of their own school budgets, and that goes back to the issue around leadership and management and the priority that schools put on this area of work. We have had a very good buyback in my local authority area, but some of it has been influenced by what budgets the schools have got. We have got examples of schools buying back more than we thought they would, because they value it and see it as central to the progression and the destinations of their youngsters.
Q53 Chair: Can you explain to us again what you are talking about in days and money?
Fiona Hilton: Our largest school is probably buying back two days a week from us. We charge £198-so £200 is about the mark, I think. For a school you are talking about £25,000, for something they had for free last year.
Q54 Alex Cunningham: So the amount of advice and guidance available to young people today, across the entire piece, is considerably less than it was two years ago?
Judith Denyer: Yes.
Fiona Hilton: Yes.
Q55 Chair: Are you a yes to that? Just for the record, David nodded and said yes, as did Judith and Fiona. Mary?
Mary Vine-Morris: The picture we looked at in London suggested, as Judith said earlier on, that it is very different in different schools. We are seeing a really different picture. One of the reasons that we were aware of that is some work we were doing last year trying to support schools in getting ready for the transition. The number of schools that were not aware of it was amazing. We pitched our work at heads particularly, but also at governors, many of whom were not aware of the new responsibilities. We had a transition framework-a guide- that went out into schools but it still needs people to be willing and interested in looking at it, obviously.
Q56 Alex Cunningham: It sounds absolutely chaotic.
Mary Vine-Morris: It is very different. It is early days. Your point earlier on was that the duty only started in September, but really you needed to be getting ready in the early part of last year, and those schools that embraced that change did. They got very energetic about it. We know of schools who have absolutely gone out there and come up with some really interesting ways of engaging.
Q57 Alex Cunningham: Can I ask about the quality then? Clearly, it is different across the country. Has there been a significant drop in the number of people working as careers advisers, the professional people, relative to two or three years ago?
Judith Denyer: I suppose I am in a good position to answer that one.
Alex Cunningham: I think I know the answer. I want you to tell me it.
Judith Denyer: Yes. It would be difficult for me to state it. David mentioned first of all about inyear cuts, which had an immediate effect 18 months/two years ago, and there have been successive cuts. I would say I probably would have lost between a third and twothirds of my complement of staff.
Q58 Alex Cunningham: That is professional staff who have left the job? Or are those people being picked up by other people who are then selling into schools?
Judith Denyer: Yes.
Q59 Alex Cunningham: How many fewer professionals are there in the system proportionally than two or three years ago? You said a third?
Fiona Hilton: I don’t know if we could answer that one. One of the issues around the quality of the advisers is that schools really should be checking when they are buying back from whoever that the professionals they are employing are Level 6 qualified and from a Matrixaccredited organisation. From a local authority’s point of view, quality is one of the things we are concerned about: who is regulating to make sure that those young people are getting quality advice from properly qualified professionals. If you are an adviser who may have left an organisation last year, are you keeping up to date with your CPD and changes in the labour market? That is quite a tough task to do. It is really important that schools do buy back from qualified and professional organisations.
David Simmonds: The picture rings absolutely true. It is fair to say that it is early days, and it is very hard to track what the impact of this has been, both in workforce terms and for the young people themselves. Certainly, from my own experience, my authority had contract with CfBT, one of the large providers in this respect. Quite a number of the staff remained with the council to provide a core offer. A number then decided to take up employment directly with schools, and a number of those schools, as has been referred to, are beginning to wake up to what this means for them and are thinking, "Gosh, maybe we should have bought back that person we didn’t." I would say if you want to know what the picture looks like nationally, you probably need to ask that question in six to nine months’ time.
Q60 Alex Cunningham: Is there sufficient oversight of local authorities by the Government to ensure that careers guidance is being carried out? How do they know whether a school is delivering on this and carrying out their responsibilities? Are there safeguards to ensure the Government can find out what is happening?
David Simmonds: That is a question that exists on a couple of levels. At local authority level, the requirement to provide the core offer is part of what the local authority is inspected against. At school level the expectation is that there will be a securing of independent and impartial advice and guidance. Again, it is early days for this, but one of the concerns is the variety between schools. I will give you an example. There has been some fantastic work in Doncaster, where they have got the local Jobcentre to come into a primary school and provide information on the vacancies available. From the age of four or five, as they go through that door every day, those children are seeing what job opportunities are available around them in that local area and are meeting with an adult who can explain what those different things mean.
Other schools have said, "This is great. We want to keep all the kids in the sixth form, so we will make sure the careers adviser tells them that is what they should do." That picture is one that schools need to be held to account for; it is not one that local authorities can manage or control.
Q61 Alex Cunningham: Are there systems in place for that to happen?
Fiona Hilton: Linked into that quality, schools should have a requirement to make sure their careers education, information, advice and guidance programmes are quality checked. There is not a place for that at the moment. I will do my advert for our Inspiring IAG quality award, which looks at the whole process: careers education, when it starts, what the senior leadership’s role is, how partners and parents are involved, the outcomes for young people. The guidance for schools does not say they should have that sort of quality award, and we would be very keen to make sure that all schools are required to have that. Then there would be that process of quality assurance of what is being delivered in schools.
Q62 Alex Cunningham: How do we ensure under the new system that careers guidance is offered to those who need it most?
Fiona Hilton: From a local authority point of view, clearly we see delivering targeted support to youngsters as our responsibility. We all do that in a slightly different way. We have multiagency teams, and that is part of the way we deliver our support to youngsters, but we also work with youngsters in schools who are statemented youngsters, the lookedafter children and the other young people who are at risk of dropping out of learning early. We have an allocation of free days to go into schools so that they can get that support from the local authority.
David Simmonds: In regulatory terms, the simplest way would be to say that the standard that applies to local authority provision should be the standard that applies to schools as well. At the moment that is not the case.
Q63 Alex Cunningham: The Work Foundation has argued that there is an ambiguity in the wording of the Education Act that could allow schools to simply refer students seeking careers advice to the new National Careers Service. Of course, that is only available online or on the telephone. Are we seeing any signs of that across the country? Are we seeing a drop in facetoface guidance as a result of it?
Judith Denyer: I do not think young people see the National Careers Service as a service for them. They can get information and advice through very local sources. They can speak to teachers, their parents and their friends. There are prospectuses, etc. I know they can use the telephone helpline, but they just do not see that as something for them. They still want somebody they can talk to, somebody who can help them to process their thinking, think about themselves, where they want to head, etc. There is a danger that they are not getting access to a qualified guidance professional to help them with those conversations.
Q64 Alex Cunningham: That sounds a bit anecdotal. How do you know this?
Judith Denyer: I have not had one request from a young person asking how to get on to the National Careers Service. I don’t have any of our managers saying, "We have got young people coming in our centres banging the door down saying they need to get on to the National Careers Service helpline." It is just not on people’s radar. It is deemed as a service for adults and not for young people.
Mary Vine-Morris: I think we have a very particular problem, which I can exemplify in London, and I am sure it is the same elsewhere. Even if we were to say that the young people who are in school do get the opportunity for that guidance-let’s say that it does work, which we might hope that it would-and we think that young people who are in college or other learning institutions can get access to some support there, we have said that there are some particular young people who have got very little access to support. Yes, local authorities are doing some very targeted work. I think Fiona identified that, and that is across the board. Nevertheless, with the decline in resources, local authorities’ targeted work is becoming very targeted. It is targeted at those most vulnerable; for example lookedafter children and teenage parents, and there is a group of young people who have made the wrong career option, who have gone back to school or gone to college and two months later think, "That is wrong for me." They have got absolutely no entitlement to facetoface guidance. They cannot go to see anybody. They can pick up the phone, and they can go online. Surely, it should be a basic principle that any young person should be entitled to facetoface guidance. It does not sound that hard. They need to be able to make realistic decisions about their futures.
Q65 Chair: Who should provide it? If you are having a National Careers Service, notwithstanding its lack of traction with young people now, is the logic not to have a truly independent, professionalised, career-developed National Careers Service, for all ages, with facetoface provision-not just for people 19plus but also people under 19? We would then have one brand, one continuity, so that if someone drops out and has a problem at 17 or 22, they know where to go, what to do, what it is like and who to speak to.
Mary Vine-Morris: That would certainly be our recommendation. The National Careers Service at the moment provides that facetoface entitlement if you are 18plus and you are on Jobseeker’s Allowance. It would not be that hard to extend it to younger people. Three quarters of the NEET cohort are in the 1718 age group. They tend not to be 16yearolds. Rather than wait for them to become 18 and jobseekers, let’s get in there first. In London, one in four young people in that 18to24 group are unemployed. We cannot afford to wait that long. Exactly as you said, bring forward that NCS entitlement to facetoface careers guidance. You have already got NCS in Jobcentres but also in lots of community venues, so extend it. The one thing I would say you need to recognise, though, is that working with young people is a bit different from working with grown-ups, and you do need to have guidance workers who have experience and are capable of doing that work with young people.
David Simmonds: A brief point, but a helpful recommendation the Committee might wish to explore is to clarify the point that a simple referral to the National Careers Service is not enough to satisfy the duty that is placed on schools. Most schools want to act responsibly in fulfilling this, but, for whatever reason, there are some that may think that is easier, particularly with more difficult youngsters. Something should come out and be absolutely explicit that simply saying, "Go and ask them for advice," is not sufficient to justify that you are securing impartial advice.
Q66 Chair: Could I just pin everyone down on this issue of the NCS, because there are different models? You could just ensure there was more funding and resource and give a statutory duty to the local authorities, again, to provide better careers advice for young people, or you could extend the National Careers Service. Mary, you sounded strongly in favour of the NCS.
Mary Vine-Morris: Yes.
Q67 Chair: David, what is the LGA view on this?
David Simmonds: We are of the view that, because this has been devolved to schools, it is very much something that is bound up in that school autonomy debate. When we look at local authority areas, around one-third have decommissioned Connexions lock, stock and barrel. The remaining two-thirds have everything from fully recommissioning the service using their own resources to some sort of buyback arrangement with their local schools. That reflects the fact that local authorities, in partnership with their local schools, are in a much better position to design a service than the nationally driven one, which it is fair to say has produced very patchy results in the past.
Judith Denyer: Definitely the National Careers Service needs to be more accessible to those young people in the NEET group.
Q68 Chair: What about giving it? If you gave it, you would have to change the statutory settlement and you would have a pretty revolutionary change. It would disrupt all the services that you guys are commissioning and working on and all the rest of it, but as a vision to get the NCS to do all ages, is that the right approach or would that be a mistake?
Judith Denyer: It has some merit, yes.
Fiona Hilton: There is an issue about knowing your neighbourhood. That is where the local authority provision can be seen as very helpful, because we know all of our providers, our labour market, our schools-it is that continuity. If the National Careers Service is able to know that in that detail, then that is fine, but there is that issue about knowing your area.
Mary Vine-Morris: Sorry, but it does not necessarily follow that you would have to remove the duty from schools. The schools can retain their duty. There has been a lot said this morning about the benefits of young people having careers education during their life in school, but young people should also be able to access facetoface guidance if they want to, and NCS are in a good position to do that because the infrastructure is already on the ground.
Q69 Alex Cunningham: The Chair talked about throwing resources at the Careers Service for guidance. There have been considerable cuts. Are there sufficient resources in the system now or what needs to happen in relation to that?
Judith Denyer: There are young people who are particularly vulnerable, even those who are NEET, who are not getting the level of service that they would have had. They used to have advisers to talk to and who would contact them, and a building to go to for support and services. There are areas, particularly in London, where those services have gone. There are no buildings and there are no people in them to support them. Some local authorities’ interpretation of their statutory duties is basically, "I am just going to do something with LDD young people," and even other vulnerable groups are not getting the level of access they would have had before.
Q70 Chair: For anyone watching or listening to this, what is LDD?
Judith Denyer: Learning difficulty and/or disability young people. Certainly, there are some areas of the country where that is the targeted support.
Q71 Alex Cunningham: Clearly we need a lot more monitoring of what is happening across the piece. The Pearson Think Tank and the International Centre for Guidance Studies recommend the Government should, in the light of the policy, be carefully monitoring changing practices and ensuring that schools are providing appropriate career support for young people. That extends to the local authority and the responsibilities they have. How can that happen in the future? What would you recommend we say to Government about how we make sure that this careers service and guidance service is to the standard it should be?
David Simmonds: The key thing is to break down some of the barriers between education and work. When we look at the UK, youth unemployment is high but not amongst the highest in the European Union. Around 60% of the UK workforce is in small to mediumsized enterprises, and any National Careers Service is going to struggle to make a really good link between Bloggs’s Builders and the one vacancy that they have every 25 years, the local school and the young person who might be on target for that.
We also need to reflect on the nature of work in the UK. There is greater demand for more highly educated, highly skilled, highly trained people, and we have extensive employment protection, which-whatever the debates about it-makes it harder to enter the workforce at an earlier age. That is a bigger challenge for young people than it might have been in the past. The key answer to that is to reflect upon the local circumstances and have a careers service that reflects the availability of local job opportunities. It is nonsense that Essex County Council have been running a scheme, centrally driven by Government, to train young people to be hairdressers and beauticians, when local businesses in offshore energy and wind farms are recruiting young people from Poland because that is the only way they can access people with skills in engineering and technical jobs. If we had a greater link between that local or regional setup-and reference is made in the Heseltine Report about the way forward on that-and local careers advice, then I think we could begin to unlock some of that.
Q72 Alex Cunningham: It is important to get that on the record, but I am interested in how Government makes sure we are delivering a quality service.
David Simmonds: Colleagues who are closer to the front line will probably have a view on the monitoring question, but from the local authority perspective, we have always looked at destinations, in the way that universities do: what does a young person do if they received advice from Connexions? Do they go on to a course? Does that course then lead on to employment, and is that employment then stable?
Q73 Alex Cunningham: How does Government make sure we have a quality universal service?
Judith Denyer: I think Ofsted are going to have survey reports rather than going in and doing something specific, so it will be interesting to see their report on their survey of those 50 schools or whatever.
Q74 Alex Cunningham: Is that good enough?
Judith Denyer: I don’t think it is good enough, no.
Q75 Alex Cunningham: What should we do?
Judith Denyer: It should be a more substantial part of any Ofsted report.
Mary Vine-Morris: As the policy that we are living with at the moment means that there is a dispersed service, you will not have overall monitoring. It is going to be made up of lots of parts. Ofsted will have a role. The destination measures are critical. If you look at institutions, and schools specifically, and say, "Are they providing the right advice and guidance?" at the moment the destination measures only include education outcomes. One of the reasons we have worked hard with the Department for education is to get those destination measures right. If they include employment outcomes as well, then you have got a real measure of whether schools are dealing with young people’s progression as well as their achievement. That is a big part of the current setup.
Q76 Chair: We have heard-and not for the first time-fairly firm evidence this morning that 11to18 schools that wish to maintain their sixth forms are not terribly co-operative with providing a full range of information to their young people. That begs the question as to whether schools fundamentally are the right place to put a duty to provide impartial independent advice, when their institutional interest may conflict with that. Do you have any views as to whether that is the right place to have such a duty, when so clearly there can be a divergence between the needs of the school and the needs of the individual child?
David Simmonds: I would simply say that on a national level it is the outcomes that will tell us the answer to that. That is not a quick, "Sort this out next week," answer, but the effectiveness of a course, whether in a college, school, or wherever it may be, is what it does for that young person in giving them a good start in life. When we look at where they are when they are 23 and 25, we can then tell if there is an issue. Part of the question then is, "How do we go on to spot when things are going wrong earlier on?" That is where the duty to secure that impartial advice needs to be beefed up.
Q77 Chair: If this destinations measure with employment information came through as we would all like it to and became part of the accountability mechanism, there would be an alignment between the interests of schools and the interests of young people. While hoping for that, based on the first cut this year, it is not particularly useful. I would commend the Government for seeking to develop it, but it does not seem particularly useful right now, least of all to hold schools to account for advice and guidance that they provide. I should ask a question, not give an opinion. I tell everyone else off for that.
Mary Vine-Morris: You are right. This year’s destination measures are probably not the most useful, but it is the beginning of something that is absolutely critical. We are comfortable with measuring progression if we are looking at something like HE. We have to be doing exactly the same with schools and colleges.
Q78 Chair: If we can get a metric that works.
Mary Vine-Morris: We have to get it right. Why can’t we? We should be able to do that. We are a clever people.
Q79 Chair: We don’t have a database state and there is nervousness about collecting information. Would it put a duty on individuals to notify the state as to where they are at any given time? You do get into that whole world. It may not be easy in a free society to ensure that you have the information to allow you to hold the school to account for what happens. That is one of the problems.
Judith Denyer: Destinations are a useful measure, but there has to be first and subsequent destinations, because otherwise you are masking levels of dropout. You are not really looking at whether the guidance they had made any impact at all on their choice if you are then not measuring how many are dropping out in January or at the end of the first year of a twoyear course because the sixth form would not take them back because they did not hit their grades. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that is not necessarily picked up through very simplistic data.
Going back to the other question, of whether the statutory duty should stay with the school, I have also got schools that are looking to purchase services because they see that adviser as somebody who can actually help to boost their sixth-form numbers. So there is a slight strangeness sometimes in terms of their rationale behind wanting to purchase a service. I don’t think it sits very easily with a school.
Q80 Chair: I asked a head about what would happen if some adviser he commissioned turned out to be an absolute evangelist for vocational education-really believed in it offering a future to so many children. The reply was, "Well, if we got a rogue adviser like that, we would get rid of them." Those are the people who hold all the commissioning power in this market. Can it be possible that they can provide independent and impartial advice? I suppose my question suggests my answer to that question, but I wonder what yours is.
Fiona Hilton: The schools can have that responsibility, as long as the guidance to the schools is far more robust. The earlier panel talked about the fact that they cannot get into schools or colleges if they are employers or apprenticeship providers. If the schools are going to hold that responsibility, they have to make sure all of the youngsters are aware of all the options. They can do that through a wide variety of measures, but it is really important that every young person knows about all the routes and not just the first steps. I totally agree with you.
Q81 Chair: You are happy with sufficient guidance.
Fiona Hilton: As long as it is very robust.
Q82 Mr Ward: The destination: is there a danger that this is just another stick to beat schools serving deprived communities, which are likely to have higher unemployment and weaker labour markets?
Chair: I am going to crudely cut you off. That is a fascinating question, but probably not directly relevant to careers advice.
Neil Carmichael: It was a good point, actually.
Chair: It was a very good point, but none the less, Neil, I will chair the meeting, you ask the questions.
Q83 Neil Carmichael: David was making some really good points earlier, oddly enough in connection with today’s Heseltine report about the potential role of local authorities in further enhancing economic growth. That, of course, includes Local Enterprise Partnerships, which clearly have a role. My first question here is really about the labour market, which David was talking about. How much understanding do local authorities really have about their labour market? David’s point about the disappearance of people into hairdressing salons in Essex, when they should perhaps be thinking about wind turbines-John Hayes notwithstanding-is a really relevant point. Are local authorities saluting Eric Pickles’ request that they start thinking about economic development and also co-operate together on economic development? That is a critical aspect of this: do they have the capacity to really get down to the data, understand it and act accordingly?
Chair: As relates to careers advice and guidance.
Neil Carmichael: That is implicit in the question.
Chair: Quite right.
David Simmonds: It would be dishonest to say, "Oh yes, of course. We are standing, ready to do this immediately." It is very clear that centrally driven Government programmes have not been a great success and local authorities are, whilst not perfect, significantly better at doing this on a local level. The arrangements referred to in the Heseltine report are not the first ideas along this particular line with regard to micro employers. The barber I go to, who has been in business for 35 years, says to me, "I am getting these young people who come from the college. They are qualified to train other people to be barbers, but they do not meet the minimum standard that I would regard as acceptable for employment." That tells me that perhaps there is something we need to look at here at a local level. Harnessing that sort of information from a local community of small businesses is much more effectively done at localauthority level than any national survey of employers.
The second thing is that there are some very well established relationships, some of which have been built up through the work done on raising the participation age and some of which has been built up through Local Enterprise Partnerships. Those provide really good intelligence about what is going on in the local economy in those areas. Some of those areas are quite small; some of those are city regions and some of those are really quite widespread. Essex is a partner with various other organisations. There you have got some really good indicators about what the big growth in employment is going to be in those local areas. Essex will tell you it is ports, logistics and renewable energy. If you go to the City of London, it is probably more about technology than anything else. If you go up to the Midlands, you will probably find engineering is a huge area of growth and British engineers actually beginning to export. That is not something the great ship of state is very good at taking account of, and that is where there is a compelling argument that through local and regional arrangements you can drive that work far more effectively.
Q84 Neil Carmichael: Yes, I think that is exactly right. Certainly, something that I have been worrying about for a long time is that there does not seem to be a proper understanding of the kind of labour market we have got, both in terms of supply from schools and colleges and demand from businesses and other professions. We need to start matching that up. That is something that would inform careers advisers more easily. Would you agree with that, Mary?
Mary Vine-Morris: Yes, we work with our LEP, the London Enterprise Panel, who run the London Skills and Employment Observatory, and it is building on what David said about having a strong local picture. If you are looking at the employment market in London, you look at the whole of London. You do not need to do that 32 times, plus the City: you can do it once. You need to look at both current and future labour market needs. Where things are changing is that previously the skills observatory could produce nice, shiny, data reports, which officers and local authorities and people like that would look at. Now, increasingly, the target audience will be young people, their parents, and the professionals who need to keep up their CPD because they are working in schools and are suddenly required to provide guidance services, as well as your colleges and your schools who need to think about what curriculum they should be offering. It is a different target audience. So it is currently being reviewed, with a view to changing the client group completely.
Q85 Chair: How adequate is it, because 30 years ago there was a lot more effort and focus, nationally and locally, on labour market information than there is today. Is that true, or am I failing to understand how much work goes on now?
Mary Vine-Morris: I am not going to comment, because I was not working 30 years ago. You would not believe me.
Q86 Neil Carmichael: I quite believe that, Mary. Graham is on to something, but of course 30 years ago you had larger businesses and sectoral activities, which did have a huge demand for labour and skills but it was relatively easy to spot what they were. Today, with a much more fluid economy with lots of smaller activities and more complexity in the economy, it is clearly harder to calibrate and understand. That is what we are grappling with and that is why I was going to ask Judith and Fiona this question: what do you think Local Enterprise Partnerships could do to enhance the opportunities that you could identify for people who are knocking on your doors?
Fiona Hilton: Across Greater Manchester we are a combined authority. We have done a skills assessment across the whole of the 10 local authority areas, and we are using that data to work with the provider networks so that they are aware of what the growth needs are going to be across Greater Manchester. Your question right at the beginning was about the importance of careers guidance in making sure our economy grows: it is how we want to see it growing in Greater Manchester. We really need to be making sure that the LMI that we are getting is going to the provider network to make sure that we have got the right provision for our youngsters. It is important at local level that we have got the right provision.
Q87 Chair: LMI is labour market information, I assume?
Fiona Hilton: Yes, sorry. That has to be fed back into the schools so that they can make sure they have got the right provision, but also very importantly to the advisers and the careers co-ordinators in schools. I know there was a discussion with the first panel about getting teachers out. That used to happen 30 years ago, or not quite so long ago. They used to have teacher placements. That used to happen, and knitting everything together is going to be really important for our youngsters.
Judith Denyer: I agree that experiential learning is the best way to get young people enthused by work and see the link between their studying and their end goal-that there is a rationale for study.
Q88 Chair: If you have advisers but they don’t know what skills are being created and what the demands are and whether there is a mismatch, we need to have a better picture.
Neil Carmichael: Who should do something about that?
Chair: Who should do something about that?
Judith Denyer: At the moment it is very fragmented, so I think it is down to individual organisations to go out and find that labour market information. Our staff go on lots of CPD. They go on City Walks and they go on different employer-related inset opportunities, so that they feel very comfortable when they are talking to young people. It seems to be down to individual organisations to get that sort of information and to equip their staff with that information. Schools are always desperate for that sort of information. It makes them feel that what they are saying to young people has more validity, because they got it from speaking to an employer or going on a visit themselves, but I do not think it is necessarily done in a coherent fashion currently.
Q89 Neil Carmichael: We know that. What do you think the LEPs-the Local Enterprise Partnerships-and indeed local government generally, could do to solve that problem?
David Simmonds: There are two answers. At a national level, the industry councils are often in a very good position to provide this kind of data, both the qualitative and the quantitative. They have a pretty clear picture of how many graduates and apprentices they are looking to take on this year, how many they took on last year, what the pay is and what the destinations of those people are across quite a wide range of sectors. There are industry councils and sector councils for a very large variety of different types of employers and businesses. That can be broken down to a local level, so if you want to know how many jobs have been created in retailing in Stroud, you could find that out in a fairly straightforward manner.
The second thing is the data that is gleaned at a local level. The picture is going to be mixed, but if local authorities have a bigger role in this specific area then it will become far more systematic. You can generally get a good picture of what types of employment are being created in your local area, both from Jobcentre Plus and from the employers that are engaged with that.
Coming back to the example of Doncaster, a primary school where children are walking past those employment opportunities every day helps to bypass some of the entrenched problems that you get. In my borough we have got Heathrow Airport. There are lots of mums and dads who are earning £30,000 a year as baggage handlers at the airport, with overtime. They are doing pretty well and they are saying to their children, "What are you bothering with GCSEs for? Go and work at the airport. You will get good money." The problem is those jobs are disappearing due to mechanisation. Opening young people’s eyes to the fact that there is huge growth in computer games programming, but chucking bags on a plane is not going to be a genuine source of employment quite soon, also requires schools careers advisers and so on to get past all the prejudices and views that may exist in the home. That is why it is key to have that opening up of the debate at local level from much earlier on.
Q90 Neil Carmichael: One of the things I detect in my area, because I have got a twotier authority arrangement, and you have in Essex-
David Simmonds: I am from Hillingdon.
Neil Carmichael: Sorry, you mentioned Essex before, and that is two-tier. One of the things local government does not do is think holistically about, for example, housing development, economic development, labour markets and so forth. There is often a disconnect between those areas, certainly in twotier authorities, but even in onetier authorities. I am just wondering what kinds of changes you would like to see to encourage that to happen, because I am assuming you think it should.
Chair: This relates, obviously implicit in the question, to careers advice and guidance. If you can find that in that question, you are doing better than I am, but carry on David.
Neil Carmichael: I think it is glowing like an ember.
David Simmonds: I would like to see a detailed discussion about the business rate review and so on, all of which would contribute significantly. The key thing comes back to this question of securing independent advice: where that duty sits. There is always going to be a level of conflict between multiple tiers of authorities, as there is amongst Members of Parliament. If someone says, "I want to build a massive nuclear power station on your patch," it is not always the most popular thing, even if it is going to create jobs, and there is always a challenge about the democratic process around that. As long as all of those who are concerned, whether it is at school or local education authority level in twotier areas, are ensuring that there is access to impartial advice for the young people, then that will contribute to the growth of the local economy, almost irrespective of any planning that anybody at the national level might be seeking to do.
Q91 Pat Glass: I want to talk about targeted support, but before I do can I ask you just one brief question about destinations? Schools are judged largely on how successful they are, and I am thinking about schools in my constituency who would judge themselves as successful if they get kids into university in things like journalism, law, banking services, etc.-things that do not make anything. Now, they would see that as a success, but I think that is a failure if we are still getting young people in from Poland because we do not have the skills in this country to do the job that is available. What can we do as a Committee around recommendations on destination measures that would be able to help square that circle?
Mary Vine-Morris: I would suggest one of the things we could do-perhaps controversially-is not just judge success in terms of destination measures only by people going to Russell Group universities. Progression into other research universities but also universities with high levels of technical competence should be an equally good measure. Although I accept what you said earlier on, Chair, about where the destination measures are at the moment, if they are left to stay as they are currently, where progression is only judged by progression into further education, then that immediately says that anybody progressing into employment with training, apprenticeships, etc., is less valued. It continues to confirm that idea that there is success and then real success. That is only part of an answer to the question.
Judith Denyer: Yes, I agree completely with Mary. Maybe there should be a measure that looks at how this has contributed to the local economy: how many of those young people have gone into something that is relevant to the economy, where the jobs are or the specific higher education programmes are that are specific to that region, rather than, "Yes, they have gone into university," or further education or whatever. That is not getting to the root of whether that meets the local need.
Q92 Pat Glass: It is not going to fill your jobs, is it?
Judith Denyer: No.
David Simmonds: Of course, one of the big challenges is mobility in the workforce. My fiancée grew up just outside of Middlesbrough and is now working as a doctor in London.
Pat Glass: I don’t think that is a success. She should have gone back to Middlesbrough.
David Simmonds: If you are trying to measure what contribution that makes to the local economy, it is difficult. We can measure more effectively the contribution it makes to the young person’s chances in life. This is where destinations can be really useful. For me, if a school takes a young person who is really struggling with education and they get them into sustainable employment, then I would consider that to be a success. When you look at the reputations of schools amongst parents who are-in the world of school autonomy-the ones who are to hold them to account, then the ability to look at that information puts parents in a much stronger position. With universities, we can tell a Cambridge economist is the highest paid sort of graduate-they earn £39,000 a year when they graduate-but a Southampton botanist gets X. If you could look at a local school and say, "Well, a Stokesley school leaver goes on to university and X percent go on to get a job in this and Y percent get a job in that," and the apprentices have really good outcomes and get sustainable employment as well, then it puts parents in a much stronger position to provide that effective support at home.
Q93 Pat Glass: Except Stokesley is a long way from Middlesbrough, on all kinds of levels.
Fiona Hilton: My area is selective. We have some very highachieving grammar schools and there is an awful lot of pressure for our youngsters to progress into full time higher education. One of the destination measures could be how many of those youngsters are going into the higher apprenticeship route, because that is just as vital an area for a youngster’s progression as just going to university. It is those sorts of things that would be useful to look at.
Q94 Pat Glass: Moving on to targeted support, local authorities are really best placed to know which children are likely to be NEET. You co-ordinate the CAFs, you have the childrenatrisk registers, you have the behaviour support services. How well are local authorities using that data to feed in to targeted services?
Fiona Hilton: We identify exactly those youngsters and we would say to the schools we will deliver our free service to that group of young people. We also work closely with the schools to try to identify the ones that are not the most complex-the youngsters who are the "wobblers" in school, who might be at risk of becoming NEET. Not all local authority areas are able to do that, but it is a concern that those youngsters who are not the most complex may not get services.
Q95 Pat Glass: So your people who are working with targeted support are getting fed information from your social care colleagues or Behaviour Support Services. They are getting this information and they are able to feed that in to targeted support?
Fiona Hilton: Yes, we know the youngsters who are working with our colleagues because we have multiagency teams working that way. We do talk to the schools so they can identify other young people at risk of dropping into NEET.
Q96 Pat Glass: Is that true of all of the local authorities?
Mary Vine-Morris: This has become particularly important for us as we head towards raising the participation age. We have done pretty well in London in terms of reducing the NEET cohort. We actually have a smaller number of young people who are not engaged in learning, but there is nevertheless still a cohort of young people who we just do not seem to be able to shift. It sticks at about 10,000 in London. Percentages have been dropping, but there is still a group of young people who are not engaged. As we head towards full participation, that becomes more and more critical.
You are right: the work we need to do in terms of early indicators of risk of nonengaging is critical. We have been working with London Borough of Ealing, which is the local leader for London for RPA. They have been doing some very interesting work, exactly as Fiona has indicated, identifying with schools the characteristics of those young people who are most likely to then go on to become NEET. It can vary, and I am sure you know the sorts of characteristics they are likely to have. By analysing who has gone on to become NEET, they are able to say, "For this school, there is a high risk if you are a young white woman who is on free school meals, has a history of being excluded from school, and possibly looked after." There is a range of characteristics that you can indicate, and then you can target your interventions much more closely to those young people.
There has been some related work across London, funded through the European Social Fund programme for preventative NEET work, and that can be plugged into those young people who, to use Fiona’s term, are wobbling: the ones who are at risk of not engaging, where they are perhaps not so complex-they have not got the whole family history.
Q97 Chair: We have found local authorities and schools not passing data to colleges, for example, on children on free school meals, so a college operating a bursary scheme and trying to target its own careers advice and guidance simply does not have any information to go on. Have you had any experience of that in London? Or David, have you got anything to say? We pressed the Government in a previous report and we are still hearing that colleges, which are supposed to administer the bursary, do not have the information on which to make the best judgment.
David Simmonds: On the data question, the school’s information management system at the local level should hold all of those details: who gets free school meals and all the rest of the information. There is a mixed picture. Some councils-Kent, for example-are developing their own NEET indicator package, simply because they found the ones on that system had not been helpful in indicating who is subsequently going to end up in that category.
Q98 Pat Glass: Any nursery school can tell you, can’t they? Why are we developing these things when we know who these children are?
David Simmonds: Part of the danger is feeding the beast: creating some huge bureaucratic structure to do this. A lot of it is about making sure that schools share the information appropriately, both with each other and with other educational institutions.
Q99 Chair: What can you do about that? I am just frustrated that, more than a year on from our report, I am still hearing that colleges don’t get the information with which to provide the support to the most vulnerable children. It seems absurd and apparently there is nothing in law to stop it. It is just ignorance among local authorities and schools.
David Simmonds: If there were to be a recommendation, it would simply be that schools should have a duty to pass this information on with the child to the next destination.
Q100 Pat Glass: Can I ask who pays for this targeted support? Who is paying for it?
Fiona Hilton: The local authority.
Pat Glass: The local authority. Presumably your budget for this has been cut, so you are having to find it from elsewhere? Okay.
Chair: Do you have something else?
Q101 Pat Glass: I was just going to ask: are there problems with some schools in getting in and delivering targeted services, or are they all very welcoming?
Judith Denyer: Yes. Our experience has been that the demand outstrips the supply of staff we have.
Q102 Chair: So no issues of academies or anyone else blocking your entry?
Judith Denyer: No, not at all.
Q103 Chair: Absolutely not. Is that a no from all four of you?
David Simmonds: There are some mixed pictures. Certainly, we have had experience of where there can be differences of opinion between schools and, particularly, families and the local authority about what the appropriate sort of support is. Occasionally that is an issue, where there is a dispute about who decides.
Q104 Pat Glass: I think it was you, Judith, who said there is almost a kind of different service between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor: that children who are identified as having identifiable SEN get a much better service than those children on free school meals or those who have behaviour problems?
Judith Denyer: Yes.
Pat Glass: What is the evidence behind that? You were predicting this would happen. Is that what has happened?
Judith Denyer: Yes. I suppose the evidence would be in the service specifications that we have been commissioned to deliver. There is a commonality, certainly across my five contract areas, of the young people that we have to focus on. So there are the ones that have been mentioned: those leaving care, the teen mothers, the young offenders, but paramount in that group is always those young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, because of that additional statutory duty. I am fortunate that in my areas their definition of targeted support is that much broader, but I am aware of neighbouring areas where it is purely LDD young people. In some of my areas we are in a position where they say, "We want you to focus on those LDD and young offender groups, but also, if you have got wobbly young people who are in danger of not making effective transition or perhaps have got other broader family issues or low aspirations or whatever, pick them up as part of your targeted support."
Q105 Pat Glass: Would you be recommending that children who are in receipt of free school meals should be included within that core group?
Judith Denyer: Certainly if they have those needs. You cannot make a blanket thing, because obviously there are some young people who are absolutely fine-who can get through the system and they are fine. But there are some young people who would be missing out because they do not have those other issues that we have been commissioned to deliver services to.
Chair: That is a no to that, in effect.
Q106 Mr Ward: We have talked about targeted groups, and this is just more evidence from the Prince’s Trust about vulnerable groups that they deal with. Their own survey shows that a very high proportion, over two-thirds of respondents, felt careers guidance was "ineffective" or "very ineffective". There is some evidence out there that it is not working. Is that what your findings are?
Fiona Hilton: Youngsters who the Prince’s Trust has been working with are complicated youngsters and need a package of support. That is what local authorities need to be looking at. They may need some mentoring, they may need some activity, but they do need guidance as well. It is not always recognised which part of the package is the careers guidance part of it, because I think they do need more support than just a onetoone careers guidance interview. That is not going to meet their needs. It may be that they need to have ongoing support for quite an intensive period of time, and then ongoing support so that they are supported in the next stage of learning. That is something that we do struggle with a little bit: having the resources to be able to carry on supporting that young person when they are settled in the next stage of learning.
Q107 Mr Ward: What about the role of Connexions with regard to that? I know it was different from area to area: there were good, bad and indifferent levels of provision, but Connexions certainly did pick up that group of young people, did it not?
Judith Denyer: Yes, it did.
Fiona Hilton: And we still do. That is the group that we would be working with.
Q108 Chair: David, has loss of the Connexions service impacted the targeted support?
David Simmonds: I would say it is a mixed picture around the country, but it has always been clear that this was a local authority responsibility and it was part of the former local authority Connexions provision. Where there has been a loss, it was probably something that was never there in the first place as opposed to something that has disappeared as a result of the overall situation.
Judith Denyer: I think there has been a loss, because we cannot pick up as many young people as we used to pick up, so those young people who needed that extra support, who perhaps are not falling into these categories-the groups I mentioned earlier-are not now able to access that intensive support and the differentiated packages of support that we would have given before, because there are just not the people.
Q109 Alex Cunningham: What proportion of young people is losing out now who should be getting the service?
Judith Denyer: It does depend on the area you are working in. I have some targeted support contracts that are worth five times more than in a neighbouring borough. It does really depend on how well it is resourced, and obviously how well you deploy your staff.
Mary Vine-Morris: We did a very simple exercise in London looking at the young people who are NEET and saying, "Of that group, what proportion of the 10,000 fall into the vulnerable group and, therefore, you can assume we are targeting our services towards them?" Out of that 10,000 there were about 3,000 who were targeted young people, young offenders etc. That left 7,000 people in the NEET cohort who, from my point earlier on, potentially have no access to that facetoface guidance that we were talking about. 70% of young people have to depend on the NCS telephone line or computer line and cannot talk to anyone.
Q110 Craig Whittaker: NEETs are classed from 18 to 24, so one would presume some of those 70% will have gone to university and, of course, are unemployed.
Mary Vine-Morris: The particular figures I was talking about were only 16 to 18. But yes, you are right: you can extend it up to 18 to 24, and our figures get larger as you go beyond 18. 18 to 24 is quite dramatic in London, but even within that NEET group, three-quarters of them are in the 17, 18 age group, rather than 16, because we have high participation in London at 16.
Chair: Can I thank you all very much for giving evidence to us today? As I always say to people who come to us, we make recommendations to Government and they are obliged to respond. If you have any further thoughts about specific recommendations, any changes, small or large, that you have not so far communicated to us, then please do write to the Committee. We would be delighted to hear from you. Thank you very much indeed.