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Taken before the Education Committee
on Wednesday 21 November 2012
Graham Stuart (Chair)
Mr David Ward
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Robert Campbell, Principal, Impington College, Heather Morris, Careers Co-ordinator, Thamesmead School, Sally Long, Upper Phase Manager, St Nicholas at Canterbury College, and Brian Lightman, General Secretary, ASCL, gave evidence.
Q111 Chair: Good morning and welcome to this session of the Education Committee looking into careers guidance for young people. Thank you very much for joining us today. How important do you think advice and guidance is to young people, the quality of their lives and the prosperity of their employment in the future?
Sally Long: It is paramount that they all receive advice and guidance. They are all entitled to have somebody helping them along the way. I work for a specialneeds school, and choices are very limited for our students when they leave us. Progression pathways are mapped out pretty well by us, but that is not always the case in all specialneeds schools. We are actually on Canterbury College campus and we work in collaboration with them very well. When we have transition reviews, we have a multiagency review, which Connexions always came to, with social services, parents and other relevant people in the life of student. We all sit, talk, advise and guide. We invite people from colleges and further education to these reviews, so that everybody can have some input.
Q112 Chair: What would happen without that input?
Sally Long: It would be detrimental to the students not to have that advice and guidance.
Q113 Chair: In what way? What would happen?
Sally Long: Maybe they would make the wrong choices. They would not know what is out there.
Heather Morris: I think it is absolutely vital that young people receive guidance and advice. It raises aspirations; it helps them engage better with their education; it gives them something to aim for; it can prevent them making the wrong decisions and taking the wrong courses, which can then prevent them going on to the higher education courses of their choice.
Robert Campbell: Advice and guidance is at the heart of what we do. They will get it from tutors, teachers, teaching assistants and all manner of professionals within schools and beyond.
Q114 Chair: They will get it anyway, one way or another. The question is how much difference it makes, depending on the professionalism and quality of what they receive. That is what I am trying to tease out: what the actual downsides would be if you had something less well formulated than what most people aspire to.
Brian Lightman: I think it is absolutely of vital importance. When we talk about advice and guidance, we must clearly define what we mean by that. There are all kinds of different advice and guidance. It is a key role of leadership teams in schools to make sure there is a coherent and co-ordinated approach to all of the different types of advice.
We are here to talk about one specific type today, which is careers guidance. The issue there is that there is a bewildering range of choices for young people today. It is a confusing world, and to expect a 14yearold or a 15yearold to know where to look-to go to the right place and to navigate their way through that without some professional assistance-is just misguided. It is not something teachers should do. Our school would absolutely not advocate that teachers be careers advisers. I could advise very effectively on going to Southampton University in 1973 to study German, but it would not be terribly useful to somebody now. We must be able to give uptodate advice that is informed by the labour market.
Q115 Chair: How do we get that into schools? There is this issue of intermediaries, particularly on a local level. Who is, as it was put to me earlier, schlepping around local employers, talking to them and finding out what is happening and what they want? Whoever is providing the guidance, if they do not have that close, local information, how will they ensure that the advice given is genuinely informed by what is happening in the market outside?
Brian Lightman: You have put your finger on the absolute crux of where the weakness is in the current policy. Schools can employ a professionally trained careers adviser, and many are doing so. However, if that professional, qualified careers adviser is not part of a larger organisation that is co-ordinating that work with some sort of strategy and a feed in to local market information to provide this information and keep them up to date, then they will soon become out of date. School leaders are doing everything they can, and I have spoken to lots of them about this. They are really trying hard, but it is very difficult. The National Careers Service, for all of its strengths and all of the things it is trying to do, does not have the capacity or the ability to provide that local information as well as the national picture. It does not have any direct link with schools.
Q116 Chair: Who should have that role, then? Is it about extending the capability of the NCS and linking that into schools? Is it about an alternative structure built just around young people in schools? Which is it, Robert?
Robert Campbell: There was a strength when careers advice sat within local authorities. I think the link that schools had with that local authority has, of course, dissipated with academies and all sorts of breakups and the like. I am loth to suggest that we return to that structure, but at least there is an organisation and a model that can ensure that there is at least access to information that is reliable, impartial and independent from schools or academies.
Without that, schools-and clusters and consortia of schools-are increasingly working together. They may be commissioning services, but there are questions around who or what they commission. Of course, in a relatively free market you will have different bodies who will say that they can provide careers guidance. I am not an expert on careers guidance; the degree to which I, as a chief executive of an academy, as I am described, can reliably make an informed purchasing decision is questionable. I want someone to guide me on that; who will provide me with the advice required to make the right decision on purchasing independent, impartial advice?
Q117 Alex Cunningham: I think you have started to answer my first question. The Association of Colleges’ survey of 500 key stage 3 and 4 teachers found that eight out of 10 did not feel they had the appropriate knowledge to give careers advice. Half admitted giving bad advice due to pressure on them to encourage young people to stay on post16. What needs to happen to ensure that young people get the quality advice they need and deserve? Do you think that schools and other educational establishments are adequately equipped to take on the role? Are they the right people to deliver it?
Heather Morris: I am a careers teacher of some 30 years’ experience. I am specially trained, but I would still not say I was properly trained in guidance. I can begin to point my students in the right direction, but they need a professional who has additional skills and a more comprehensive knowledge of what is going on than I would have.
I am unique in terms of longevity in post, and I lead a group of six schools from which the careers teachers meet regularly. I am very much the lead on that. Others do not have the opportunities, now, to have the training that I had in the past. I think it is important that we do have external providers who have a much higher level of skill and a much wider knowledge base.
Brian Lightman: I have just come from the AoC conference. I was in discussion with people about this very survey and this topic. That AoC survey is certainly not trying to criticise schools or anything like that. It is pointing out the reality of the fact, as I said, that teachers are not the people who should be providing careers guidance.
We also have to be realistic about the world we are in. The people at the Association of Colleges very much were in the discussions we were having. We live in a world where the policy is competition. There is a policy of market forces between institutions; therefore, you need to make sure that young people can navigate their way around that market by ensuring there is impartial guidance. That means having qualified people who are not there to serve the interests of the school or the college-or have any other institutional interest-but are there to serve the young people and to give them the right sort of guidance.
Q118 Alex Cunningham: What should that model look like?
Brian Lightman: There are a lot of models. If I can give you an example from my own experience, I had a qualified careers adviser who was employed by a careers service and who was placed in my school; we did not employ that person. She was a qualified careers adviser, and her performance management and training and so on was done by the external careers service. That meant that you had this person in the school who was an expert in the field. Associated with that was something that really needs to be emphasised: there was a proper careers education programme. That might be called careers education in the curriculum or it might be part of personal or social education; where it sits in the curriculum is, in a sense, irrelevant. However, the careers education programme is what the teachers can do. They can teach about the skills that people need and what employers are looking for. They can bring employers in. They can provide all of that general information, and you can then have your specialist careers adviser, who is there to work with individuals or groups of students on very specific pathways that they might follow and give them proper guidance.
Q119 Alex Cunningham: You can go and buy your careers adviser under the new system, but it seems that some schools may choose not to do that. The quality of advice could suffer; is that fair?
Brian Lightman: You can employ an adviser; many schools are doing that. You can employ them directly or, if you happen to have a service in an area that is offering a traded service, you can buy into that service-if you can afford it. Remember, however, that the funding has been removed for that. Schools have difficult decisions to make. We have strongly advocated that people ensure they have qualified advisers in schools, but it is a difficult thing to do.
Q120 Ian Mearns: In that case, Brian, I am just wondering whether anybody on the panel is aware of parents going out and buying their own careers advice for their youngsters.
Heather Morris: No.
Brian Lightman: No.
Robert Campbell: No.
Sally Long: No.
Brian Lightman: The trouble is that you can promote stereotypes as well. I, as a parent, did not know all of the opportunities open to my own children. I think it is very important that parents get access to that information, because there are many routes and we tend, naturally, to follow the routes that we have been down ourselves. That is a human trait, is it not?
Q121 Alex Cunningham: Is there actual evidence, then, that there are fewer professionals in the system because schools do not have the money to pay for the service, and therefore the quality of the service being delivered is going through the floor?
Brian Lightman: I think so. We have done some surveys on that.
Q122 Alex Cunningham: Everybody is nodding there; would somebody else care to say something?
Heather Morris: I used to work across half of the schools in my county, giving careers support, as a careers teacher, to other careers teachers or even to people being employed on an administrative basis to be the careers co-ordinator-and not even coming from a teaching background. That is another element to this. I know now that very few of the schools I work with are actually bringing in anybody from outside to give careers advice and guidance.
Q123 Alex Cunningham: Those professionals do not exist in some instances.
Heather Morris: There are some out there, but schools do not necessarily have the money to put them in place. Our consortium of six schools has a long history of working together, particularly in the careers field. All of the head teachers of the six schools are very supportive and we have brought in a careers adviser who works across all of our schools. The schools are putting in extra money from September so that there is more time for this in schools. That careers adviser will do groupwork sessions and individual interviews. They will work from Year 7 right through the schools. We have got four schools that are 11 to 16. It is imperative that our students have the correct knowledge for moving on to one of potentially 15 different places.
Q124 Chair: Can I ask how much money that costs? In Bradford, they kept the Connexions brand and the local authority brokered a deal. All of the schools are putting in, I think, £10,000 each-regardless of their size. They all put £10,000 in and that gave them a certain amount of time each week.
Heather Morris: I know how much the business manager says goes into the collaborative pot from each school. We do not know how much of that is actually spent on the careers adviser, but an individual institution pays just over £4,000 per year.
Brian Lightman: I would say that is at the very low end, because there are vast differences in the amounts being spent. Some local authorities have said, "We will keep it on, but we want £25,000 to do it." Schools have said, "Well, in that case, will employ someone ourselves." You end up in this vicious circle, where you have individuals being employed rather than a structured service.
Q125 Alex Cunningham: Is there any evidence out there about what the picture is across the country? We have had good examples-Bradford is one; Liverpool is another-where the local authority is holding the ring in this and ensuring there is a good service. Do we know what the picture is across the piece? Someone suggested to me that one-third is very good, one-third is okay and one-third is rubbish.
Robert Campbell: I can only speak in real detail about Cambridgeshire, which is where I am currently a head teacher. The model there has been very much a movement away from this; Connexions has morphed into a very small outfit that is targeting the most vulnerable children. They receive guidance specifically from that organisation. Across the rest of the schools-there are high numbers of secondary academies in Cambridgeshire-we are, as one of my fellow academy heads neatly put it, dealing with this like an ostrich. I do not think he meant that we are running and engaging positively with it, but rather that we are burying our heads in the sand.
We are saying, "We know it is there, but we have sixthform pressures; we have funding issues here; we have SEN funding that is set to plummet. We are one of the worstfunded authorities in the country anyway. This is lower on our list of priorities." That is the reality.
Q126 Alex Cunningham: Is the quality shot?
Robert Campbell: I do not think the quality is shot. The one positive thing about Cambridgeshire, of which it is a model example, is that it has a consortium. It has the Cambridge Area 1419 Partnership. We all go into each other’s schools around Year 11, and students have an opportunity to visit the stand of the regional college or Hills Road Sixth Form College. There is an opportunity for students to engage with professionals who are not employed within their own schools.
Q127 Alex Cunningham: What support are establishments getting in order to take on their new duties? For example, is the local authority providing support? I understand what has been said by Robert, but has the Department for Education’s statutory and practical guidance for schools been helpful or is it just a bit of a muddle?
Brian Lightman: We made the case for additional guidance to be produced by the Department, and we were very pleased that they did produce their additional guidance. That was helpful to have. We produced our own guidance and other organisations like the Association of Colleges have done the same thing.
However, the short answer is that apart from those things there is no structured guidance going out to schools. I wanted to give you a statistic. We have been doing a poll of our members as we go around the country to information conferences, asking whether they think effective careers guidance systems are in place. In the sample-at the moment it is running at just over 400 people, which is quite a reasonable sample-90% of them are saying there are not effective guidance systems in place. Only 10% felt there were. That is the reality of where we are.
Q128 Alex Cunningham: What do we recommend to Government to say, "You need to sort this out"?
Brian Lightman: We have called on the Government to invest-I think they cannot afford not to invest in this-in bringing facetoface guidance down into schoolage pupils, i.e. extending the National Careers Service’s remit to include facetoface guidance into schools so it is available through the National Careers Service. It is available for adults but it is not available for schools. That would be a major step forward, if the Government would do that.
Q129 Alex Cunningham: Do Sally and Heather agree with that?
Heather Morris: Yes, if the service could have trained advisers who are used to younger people. I think that is implicit in what you are saying. Yes, there is a definite need for that.
Sally Long: We would need a specialist adviser that knew all of the opportunities for our young people, which we had from Connexions. This person from Connexions came in. Our students-a lot of them are ASD-have tremendous problems with a new person coming in to the classroom. This person was familiar to them; this person saw them and worked with them one to one and did facetoface work. They would see this person at all of the transition reviews. They would be quite familiar to them. They would be able to glean quite a lot of information from the young person as to what their career path should be. However, without this specialist person who knows all of the specialist provision and who actually knows our young students, it would be very difficult to bring somebody else in. I have spoken to East Kent Education Business Partnership, who have specialists, but our young people have never worked with them before. It would be so difficult to introduce new people-and they charge £180 a day. We had been having 45 days a year from Connexions; it has gone right down to 16 now, basically just to do leavers’ reviews and the S139a paperwork to go with them.
Q130 Pat Glass: Very quickly, I just wanted to ask Sally a question. The evidence we have had is that Connexions did not always deliver what was expected of it, but the area of SEN and vulnerable children was where they were best. Is that true and has that now largely been lost?
Sally Long: We have lost their input; it was valuable input. I do not think, at the end of the day, it would change where students will be when they leave us because these opportunities are so minimal. However, to have that support and guidance all the way through was excellent for both the school-because I do not believe we should be delivering the impartial guidance-and the families. They also work inline with the transitional care managers from social services. A lot of funding arrangements are sorted out through everybody talking as a multiagency body.
Q131 Charlotte Leslie: I would like to go back to something Alex touched upon earlier. Given the situation we are in, how possible is it for schools and colleges with students up to 18 to give impartial advice? We go back to the survey. I think half of the 500 teachers surveyed felt that there was pressure to keep kids on in the sixth form. A quarter of those said it was coming from the leaders of the schools themselves. Given where we are, how can we mitigate that and how difficult is it to give impartial advice?
Brian Lightman: That is the reality we live in: there is competition between those institutions. The funding is based on retention and all of these things. There are many policy drivers that do that. The first answer is that it should not be schools or colleges that are providing the guidance; it should be specialist advisers. It comes back to the same issue each time. Those are people who are not there to protect institutional interests; they are there to be completely objective and make sure young people know about all of the different opportunities that are available to them in an area. That is absolutely essential. You need that. The more fragmented a system you have and the more you have a marketplace system, the more you need that sort of thing to balance it out to make sure we have that objectivity.
Q132 Chair: Robert, are you incapable of giving impartial advice because of your own institutional interest?
Robert Campbell: Absolutely.
Chair: And it is people like you who lean on teachers below.
Robert Campbell: Terribly so. As the head of an 11 to 18 school and as someone who is particularly proud of our sixth form-it has very positive things said about it-I will inevitably say that to students in Years 10 and 11. There is awful lot about the sixth form to be proud of, but I accept it is not for everyone. There is competition between institutions: there is a surplus locally and a slightly decreased number, so inevitably there will be pressures on the market. However, in the spirit of fair play I am very happy to allow, as we do, other providers to come in, present to Year 11 students and talk about their institutions. That is independent; it is not particularly impartial, because inevitably they are saying, "Come to our institution; come to our regional college," and give all of the reasons why students should do so. However, you do have this tension-there is very much a tension-in schools between wanting a healthy vibrant sixth form so that your numbers are sustained and your school continues to be successful, and, on the other hand-because so many of us in education are utterly committed to this-doing the right thing for the children. Therefore, if that child is better placed going to the school or the college down the road, so be it.
Q133 Charlotte Leslie: However, it is very much based on a sales-pitch mentality. You will say, "We are good for you." You will then let other people in who will say to the kids, "No, we are good for you." It is up to the kid to judge the beauty contest. You do not buy in any impartial advice.
Robert Campbell: No.
Brian Lightman: It is a bit like having Sainsbury’s invite Asda in to market their wares. You cannot do it like that. That is why, as I say, you need these independent people to provide that, and then any marketing that takes place will happen. However, I also would emphasise-we have advocated this in our guidance paper on this issue-that schools and colleges should work together. We have highlighted ways in which we think they should and what good practice is. We work very closely with the Association of Colleges and, indeed, our college members.
Q134 Ian Mearns: I understand everything that is being said about the tensions within the situation but, Brian, with respect I do not think it is like Sainsbury’s and Asda. We are talking about publicly funded institutions that are there to try to serve our young people. The trouble is that when we have the tensions about getting a full sixth form, having the appropriate amount of funding to sustain the sixth form and having a breadth of curriculum within the sixth form to make the sixth form successful, I am quite convinced that many young people will be advised to go into the sixth form, although there may be other options for them that may serve them better. While I accept that some institutions do invite other people in to give their wares an airing, we meet, as the Chairman constantly points out, secondary school practitioners who have never been anywhere near their local FE college and have no idea of what it looks like or what is available in there. Therefore, we are getting back into the territory of what our good and late friend Malcolm Wicks called "pensions mis-selling". Back in the 1990s, he coined that phrase. He said some of the advice and guidance given to young people from the perspective of the institution is something akin to pensions misselling. The trouble is that we have to bottom that out because otherwise we are doing some youngsters a disservice.
Brian Lightman: I absolutely agree with you, Ian. I am not here to advocate that sort of marketing approach. I am here to advocate access to the right guidance, to make sure that young people can make those decisions. I absolutely agree with you. If you have a look at what we have published in terms of our guidance to schools and colleges about what they should be doing, we have absolutely advocated that sort of approach, where they do make sure they know about all of the different opportunities. We are not doing young people a service at all by advising the wrong routes.
Q135 Mr Ward: As an accountant who is also nosey, what is the loss of income per person who does not go into sixth form?
Robert Campbell: It depends on the programmes they are following, but, roughly speaking, £4,500 to £5,000 per student.
Q136 Chair: Do you think the financial services parallel is a good one? The law is very specifically set up. If you are an independent financial adviser, you are supposed to be truly independent. The Government keeps making changes to try to make sure that you can genuinely look after the interests of your client and not be driven by commission or some other consideration or a kickback of some sort. However, if you represent one particular company, you have to say, "I am here on behalf of Lloyds’ TSB insurance, and therefore I am trying to flog you Lloyds’ TSB insurance but I will do so as honourably as I can-but you need to be clear that I am here to flog that." Do you think the parallel is right?
The law last year effectively put a duty on the representative of one financial institution-in this case an educational one-to give independent, impartial advice. It is nonsense. You would never think the Aviva representative is going to give independent, impartial advice across the whole piece, because they simply cannot.
Brian Lightman: The law put the requirement on the institution to do that. An independent financial adviser is a trained, specialist person who has to do a job. We are saying that the independent careers advisers should be trained. I am sure that in the next evidence session people will talk about the quality standards that are available there. There is a Matrix standard, which is a very highlevel way of accrediting organisations. You could argue that schools need to be accredited in that way. There are quality standards for careers. Those sorts of things could be done. However, this does not get away from the issue that we need a qualified specialist who is not a teacher or a head teacher but somebody who is specialised in that particular field.
Q137 Charlotte Leslie: Coming back to apprenticeships, our BIS Select Committee said that the awareness amongst schools and colleges of apprenticeships was lacking. Can I ask where you would get your information about apprenticeships from, particularly Rob? How many of your kids go on to do apprenticeships?
Robert Campbell: It is interesting. I am also Chair of the Cambridge Area 1419 Partnership. That is 25 institutions, 18 secondary schools, sixth-form colleges and the like. It is interesting that in an area where there is very rich Level-3 provision-particularly ALevels or the International Baccalaureate in our case-the number and the up-take of apprenticeships is relatively low in comparison with statistical neighbours. I think that part of the reason is that there is such strength around ALevels and International Baccalaureate and other accreditation like that. There is probably a lack of good guidance into the alternative offered by apprenticeships. We have recognised it as a problem and if we are looking at-as we are now-raising the participation age, the groups that we must target are the students for whom Level 3 is not the most appropriate pathway and for whom, therefore, the apprenticeship model will be the one in which they will secure the right sort of employmentbased training to secure a good career pathway.
It is still lacking; there is still insufficient awareness of apprenticeships. That is partly to do with the background issue that Brian highlighted: we are, in the main, university educated and from a particular background, yet we are trying to get an understanding of something that is quite different from the route you and most of the people in your organisation have taken.
Brian Lightman: The National Apprenticeship Service does not have any access to schools; its remit does not extend to schools. There are some adjustments to be made there, which you might look at, to make sure that within their remit there is a link into the National Careers Service and into whatever local provision there is to make sure that information comes down to schools.
I would add that it is not only about Level 3; it is about highlevel apprenticeships. There is a real mismatch. The Education and Employers Taskforce is about to publish some figures on the mismatch between children’s aspirations and employment opportunities. That is why we need careers education and access to that sort of information: to make sure they know what there is. We also need strong messages from Government about apprenticeships being an equally valid route to other routes of higher or further education.
Q138 Charlotte Leslie: Is that recommendation that the NAS go into schools something the whole panel would concur with?
Heather Morris: Yes.
Brian Lightman: Yes.
Robert Campbell: Yes.
Sally Long: Yes.
Q139 Mr Ward: Were you saying, Robert, that the ALevel route would be the best route for a student of Level-3 ability, as opposed to the apprenticeship route?
Robert Campbell: I know that is not necessarily the case because it clearly depends on their individual aspirations and particular abilities. You can have Level-3 students in maths and physics or in a more vocational area: they are both Level 3, but they are very different skills, attributes and qualities.
I have lost my train of thought.
Q140 Mr Ward: There seems to be an assumption within many schools that, if you are capable of sixth form, it is what you should do. That of course flies in the face of an apprenticeship agenda, which says that the alternative option should be available if it is the most appropriate one.
Robert Campbell: Particularly, then, when your predominant programme in the sixth form is an A-Level or International Baccalaureatetype programme, you will perhaps favour that recommendation or suggestion to a student because they, inevitably, will choose the pathway into your sixth form.
Q141 Siobhain McDonagh: I do not know whether any of you have been through the process of contracting out to external providers. How has that process worked? How are you able to assure yourselves and other interested parties, such as the parents and the young people themselves, that the quality of the provision is good enough? Have any of you done this?
Sally Long: We have not done it. We enquired into it, but we have not actually done it. It was the East Kent Education Business Partnership that I had spoken to. They are quite prepared to come in and work with specialneeds students, but I have not yet gone any further with it because I do not have the funding.
Q142 Siobhain McDonagh: It is the money that is the problem.
Brian Lightman: This is obviously a major aspect of the leadership of academies. In all kinds of areas, procurement is a very significant issue. It is the remit of business managers, who are senior leaders within schools, to do those sorts of things. The issue with this is that you have good practice in procurement, which can follow the good guidance about procurement that is out there that is not always being followed, but you also need specialist knowledge. Robert highlighted this before. You need specialist knowledge to be able to make a decision about what is a good careers service. There are many organisations within the careers profession who are able to advise on these sorts of things, but if every single school in the country has to do that, it is not a terribly efficient model for making sure that we get consistency. There is some really good practice going on in some areas. We have case studies of excellent practice going on in some schools; it is a question of getting it across the country and making sure that all young people, wherever they are, get access to highquality provision.
Q143 Siobhain McDonagh: How much money are you setting aside for careers guidance work? How much is devoted to targeted support? How much is there for universal provision? How adequate is this in reality?
Sally Long: No money has been set aside at the school because the provision we have had has been very good, and the personcentred planning that the Connexions representative did with our students can be done with a member of staff. The problem arises when they leave us; they have to have an S139a and there might be gaps in the S139a because this Connexions officer will not be coming in to the LAC reviews, the CHIN reviews* and all the meetings to glean the information about the students. That is the problem. The big work is actually done when they leave us, because they are entitled to education up until they are 25 so they can carry on with their foundation learning within supported learning within a college.
We work collaboratively with Canterbury College; that seems to be a natural progression. From us, they come through the main school; they then come down to an offsite unit at Canterbury College. This is for 16 to 19yearold students. They are actually at the College, but are still with our school. They then naturally progress into Canterbury College if they want further education; they might not, in which case we need some guidance as to what specialist provisions are out there for our students. They are minimal; because I have worked there for so long I do know what is there, but if I were not there and somebody new came into the role, they would not know what was out there. It is a good thing to have somebody’s impartial guidance for these students.
Heather Morris: Our local authority provides a universal service and a targeted service for potential NEETs, but it is a very small number. My understanding is that those personal coaches that are provided through the local authority do not actually start to meet the Year 11 students until January of Year 11, by which time a lot of colleges have actually closed their application process. It is quite late in the day to start picking up those sorts of students and supporting them through to November, for those who left in the summer. They potentially have quite disjointed support, because there will be something happening in school; they will then meet this other person. Last year they had seen them once before the students left the school because of when the new contracts came in. The most vulnerable are the ones who are possibly receiving the least support at the time that they need it.
Robert Campbell: As I said earlier, we have Connexions targeting more vulnerable students. In Cambridgeshire, we have moved to a model where the funding that was previously for education other than at school, so the funding that funded PRUs and the like, has been delegated to schools locally. We then put intensive support around the most vulnerable children who previously would have been excluded. We use some of that funding for individual cases above and beyond the ones that Connexions are targeting. It is almost impossible to say, "I have set aside this funding," because you do not necessarily know this figure on an annual basis. Individual circumstances can change: family breakup, pregnancy and all of the other issues that can face young people today. Therefore, we have a fund we can access to target individuals, should that be needed, above and beyond the usual standard. For the universal provision, we have the existing arrangements in place. Are they fully independent and impartial? No. I do not know if that it is the case in many of my local secondary schools.
Q144 Chair: What are the existing arrangements?
Robert Campbell: As I said, we have a programme. We start our options in Year 9. From Year 8 upwards they have a programme built around PSHE. We have enterprise and careers days for students, where they have access to employers. It moves on through when they get to Year 11. There is a lot of independent advice that comes in about the different providers locally.
Q145 Chair: Does someone take a lead on that in your institution?
Robert Campbell: Yes, we have a senior person who takes the lead.
Q146 Chair: Is there an allocation of time for them? Are they spending so many hours a week on this?
Robert Campbell: No. I am laughing because in a sense the life of a school is that you just get on with the job at hand, managing umpteen different briefs. It is like the job of an MP, I suspect. It gets done when it needs to get done. There are particular times when you deal with this, such as in the runup to submitting application forms for colleges.
Q147 Siobhain McDonagh: What does it look like on a national level?
Brian Lightman: On a national level, there is no set amount that a school would allocate. It is a delegated budget. Schools will make their decisions. This is an area to which many schools will allocate pupilpremium funding, particularly schools that have a large allocation and who may well see advice and guidance as a priority for spending pupilpremium money-quite rightly so, because that is exactly what it is designed for. There is no short answer to that question.
In terms of the sorts of models that they have, in the best practice you will have a very coherent policy on advice and guidance that goes across the school. If I think of one case study that I saw, the school has a guidance team. That includes their pastoral guidance, their guidance about curriculum, their personal guidance for children with difficulties-those sorts of things. Within that team you have a fulltime careers adviser, probably with some administrative support as well. You also have a careers teacher or co-ordinator on the teaching staff, who does the careers education programme. Yes, you can then quantify what they are spending on those particular staff who are there to do the careers function, but that is not a fixed model because it is a decision that schools are left to make. Certainly, a school like that would be meeting the requirement; they would be bringing in external access as well to make sure they did have full independence.
Chair: We have limited time.
Siobhain McDonagh: There is lots of stuff in my questions that we have been over already.
Q148 Mr Ward: We have touched upon the facetoface aspect, but how crucial is it? How do we decide who gets it and who does not? I suspect in your area it is everyone.
Sally Long: Everyone, yes.
Q149 Mr Ward: Is that true across the piece?
Robert Campbell: We have a high number of statemented students, so they would have access. We might make a decision about students who have particular needs who are School Action Plus, and certainly those students we have identified as being at risk or who have received fixedterm exclusion, i.e. those we have concerns around. It would not necessarily be all students with free school meals, because inevitably some of them actually do not necessarily need additional targeted support. Those would be our broad categories but, as I said earlier, there will be some children who fly in the face of your categories because of individual circumstances that crop up.
Brian Lightman: I would argue that everybody needs access to it. That does not mean you do a sheep dip, where everybody goes in and out and has a halfhour interview whether they need it or not. You will have those categories of students, but there might be a student who wants to get onto a particular university course in a particular subject they want to follow and they need some expert advice on what they need to do to ensure that they get access to that. There are all kinds of things. The access needs to be there; that is the key thing. You must have the provision available and, as Sally has said, there must be specialists who are there. There are specialist post-16 advisers and pre16 specialneeds advisers and so on. They can make sure everybody can access somebody. That is again why having one employee is not an ideal solution. If you have a careers service, you can bring in a specialist specialneeds adviser or whatever for those people-not full time, but just whenever they are needed.
Q150 Mr Ward: What about the websites that are available? What is your experience of the value of those?
Heather Morris: They are a useful source of information, but they cannot give guidance because you are relying on the student engaging with that information, sifting it, sorting it and, however good their careers programme is, they will not necessarily be able to extract the information they need from that.
Q151 Mr Ward: We have taken evidence from young people who have said that there is almost a profusion of websites. Is it confusing?
Robert Campbell: Yes.
Brian Lightman: It is utterly bewildering. The market is flooded. As soon as that new requirement was put onto schools, the market was flooded with all kinds of websites and providers. Some are very good, but as a young person finding your way into that, you need help. Many young people will need very clear steering into what they should look at and how they should use it and so on.
Robert Campbell: Cambridgeshire did make an attempt to make it slightly easier for young people and to target young people by developing a website called Youthoria. You may have reservations about the name, but it enabled them to have a separate section within that around careers. Obviously, then it took you off to some of the specialist websites. It does actually help with the fact, however, that when you get to some of the specialist websites, they are maybe not as easy to negotiate and get your head around.
Q152 Mr Ward: We did touch on the NCS at the very beginning and the possible extension of its scope. Are there any comments on that?
Robert Campbell: If there were a national service that enabled you to provide access and would regulate, mediate and provide that access to independent and impartial information, I would welcome that. I think that can only be of benefit. As I said earlier, the decisionmaking is upon me if I am commissioning services. How do I know that what I am going to buy into is of the right quality for the students at my school?
Q153 Mr Ward: There would be costs, of course, but should there be an extension of facetoface provision as well?
Brian Lightman: It is a cost, but I think it is an investment that we must make.
Q154 Chair: What about the downsides of that? When we met young people and talked to them, they said they quite appreciated having the school and people in the school who knew them and who they had a relationship with and felt able to talk to, as opposed to somebody who came parachuting in for one day and slotted in to a strange room for half an hour with them. The young people seemed to have more a feel for the school doing that than perhaps the sceptical members of this Committee did.
Brian Lightman: You can do that. I am not suggesting that the National Careers Service should operate from Westminster and operate in that way. Currently, it is a franchise model, is it not? You would have local hubs of the National Careers Service, as you do now, and they would deploy those people. It is absolutely essential that those people develop a relationship with the school, understand their needs and have those students get to know them in that way. It is not either/or. It is making sure that there is an infrastructure and a strategy.
Q155 Chair: At what age do your schools start providing careers advice and guidance and why have you chosen that age to start from?
Sally Long: For careers teaching we do not do discrete lessons, but it is all embedded within the secondary part of our school, i.e. Year 7 and upwards. Careers teaching is delivered by the teaching staff, but the careers advice and guidance basically comes in at their transitional reviews to Year 9, so it would really start to be spoken about with all the agencies, parents and the young person at Year 9. The teaching is very different to the advice and guidance that the young person would get in that review. That is continued in all of the reviews. We can actually speak about their career path and what they are choosing to do every year when we all meet together.
Heather Morris: Yes, it is much the same picture. There are elements of careers education right through from Year 7; there is then more specific, focused careers education from Year 9 upwards; and then there is access to our careers adviser from Year 9.
Q156 Chair: What does that careers teaching in Year 7 look like?
Heather Morris: It looks at individual strengths, personal skills, skills that they need to develop and what is needed in teamwork or problem solving. I suppose it is those general things but it relates, as well, to the world of work.
Q157 Chair: Where does that appear in the curriculum? Is this on a onetoone basis or in a classroom?
Heather Morris: It would be embedded in all sorts of lessons.
Robert Campbell: Specifically in terms of the first advice, for us this would take place in Year 8 because our students start their Key Stage 4 courses at the start of Year 9. In 80% of schools it is around Year 9, but for us it starts in Year 8. That does mean they are younger, of course, and being a year younger can be quite significant around that sort of age. We have found it has worked and that the model schools have employed for Year 9 upwards works from Year 8 upwards.
Q158 Chair: Do you have any idea about what the young people themselves think? Would your younger pupils like to receive more input? What would the barriers to doing so be if they did?
Brian Lightman: One of the really strong bits of feedback has been about the increased access of employers into schools recently. There has been a real move towards that with things like Speakers for Schools and Inspiring the Future. They really value that as a tremendous response to those sorts of things. They could be built into that careers education programme. I would emphasise that this is not guidance. These are people talking about their jobs, the work they do and so on. It is giving them a firsthand insight into what young people do. That is really valuable.
The other thing I wanted to say is, of course, that one of the aspects of this is that, with UTCs in some areas and transfers at 14, there is the need for specific guidance to come earlier, because it is a big decision to change school at 14. They do need guidance about that before making that big decision.
Q159 Chair: You hear different things from employers. There has been an improvement, but still you hear from employers that they somehow bounce off the school system. Schools themselves struggle to know how best to deploy employers. Some people come in and are brilliant speakers and are captivating while addressing young people. That will not be true of every employer. How do schools best engage with employers when they do come forward and they want to share what they do with young people?
Robert Campbell: This is where the value of partnership working can take place in consortia. We are in the process, through the Cambridge Area 1419 Partnership, of running an advert for an employer links co-ordinator, who will work across the schools and colleges and seek engagement with employers and organisations and will form reciprocal arrangements and develop protocols around working with schools. Certainly, there will be a direct link between employers, groups of employers and schools. I think that will work very positively, but of course that is one local model.
Q160 Chair: What do you do when you have-it might be a parent; it might not be-somebody running, for example, a small workshop in the construction industry who wants to engage and share the opportunities that he or she sees in their industry? How are they deployed? Are they deployed or do they simply bounce off the school?
Robert Campbell: They would not bounce off. They are engaged with. I would always view that very positively. Whether they would be talking to smaller groups or larger ones depends on what they feel comfortable with. Some seemingly confident adults baulk at the thought of talking in front of 300 children. It really depends on where they are coming from, what their preferences are and the needs of the school, and we see if we can mediate something.
Sally Long: Our students like to go out and see people in the workplace. We have been to the fire station. They have people coming in very rarely, but we work in the community as well, so we go out and we buy into things like Brogdale, where they can work in a shop or work the allotment. We work with the Gateway Café in Ashford, and we have another farm that they go to work on. They actually go to work and meet people that are in the workplace and do some work experience. We get them out there just to see different things. That is very much schoolled; that was not Connexionsled. We have had to provide facilities ourselves for that type of thing.
Q161 Chair: Are there any barriers in the way of that? We are getting quite a positive feel now, but notwithstanding improvements, when you talk to employers, you would struggle to find a group of employers who would say they find engagement with schools easy.
Sally Long: There are lots of barriers for specialneeds students. Not many employers understand what they need. It is a learning curve for them as well.
Heather Morris: One of the best examples I can cite is where a very large employer in our area actually brings in some of its apprentices to work with our students in a dropdown session. They bring in female engineers as well, and it really raises the profile of what they do and the alternative pathways we were talking about earlier. That was something that happened for three years; that has suddenly stopped now. That is a real loss to the programme and to the young people, because the profile that was building up is now suddenly disappearing.
Q162 Chair: Why has that gone?
Heather Morris: I am not quite sure why they have done it; I think they have put their funding into another particular type of project.
Brian Lightman: It is an easy thing to cut. If you must make difficult decisions, an employer will often have to cut back those things. I would emphasise I think there is a real commitment. You only need to look at what the CBI has been doing this week at their conference to see that there is a real commitment to this. There is lots of good practice out there. I do not think that is a problem area; that is a growing area, which we want to develop. The issue is making sure that is backed up with proper impartial guidance.
Q163 Chair: We want to make sure there are no barriers in the way; again, we are looking at recommendations to ensure there can be as much of a flow as possible.
Brian Lightman: It is just to be encouraged, I think.
Q164 Ian Mearns: With particular reference to those youngsters who are in danger of disengaging from education or who are struggling in school, how do you work with your local authority to ensure that targeted individuals in your school are identified and receive the necessary support? We have heard evidence of there being, at times, a difference in opinion between schools, local authorities and parents about the appropriate support for individual youngsters. Is this something that you are aware of or do you have experience of that happening?
Brian Lightman: It is a variable picture, again. There are very good systems in place. This links to the raising of the participation age, does it not? There are statutory requirements, clearly, that local authorities have. I am afraid that in the survey I mentioned before, 50% of the respondents felt the local authority had not done anything to implement RPA, which is really quite worrying. There are some real concerns but, on the other hand, I have been made aware of some very good practice in some local authorities in terms of preventative strategies to identify pupils that are at risk of not being in education, employment or training, and strategies to work with the schools to make sure that those pupils are given some sort of guidance and support.
Robert Campbell: I think the advice and guidance for that group is probably better than for any other group in school at the moment. That is partly to do with what I have said about Connexions providing that, but, in addition, because of our distinct set-up in Cambridgeshire, we have the budget for what used to be EOTAS and students who would have previously gone to the PRU. We knew part of the reason why that came to us was because the PRU was failing. We now have access to that funding. It is almost like there is double targeting, in effect, for those most vulnerable students-particularly SEN, but also, additionally, the ones at risk of exclusion and the like. Certainly from my perspective, locally they are probably better served than any other group at the moment.
Heather Morris: There comes a point where some of those students that you perhaps have targeted and you thought would make it do not make it through. There is nothing to catch them now, because there is no Connexions service. School finishes at 16; they can drop off the end if they are not engaged and have not been identified by the local authority.
Q165 Charlotte Leslie: Sometimes careers guidance and going out into the real world and doing something is most valuable for kids who drop out of school because they do not like the academic structure and end up in alternate provision. Historically, I think we would all agree that alternate provision has been a dustbin in which we put everyone who does not fit into one structure-and hope the problem just goes away.
Do you think that the changes the Government is making to alternate provision structures-where they can be academies or free schools and there is far more focus on what goes on there-presents an opportunity for getting careers guidance into alternate provision in a much more proactive way? Does the move to make schools responsible for the kids that they have excluded and choose their alternate provision strategically present an opportunity?
Brian Lightman: I cannot imagine you putting in place any effective alternative provision without doing that. I would put it that way. I think it is an absolutely integral part of it that will only work if you do that. There is evidence of some very good models of alternative provision developing. It is an area that people really do want to try to work on. I have no evidence about the specifics, but I would be very surprised if one of those did not have careers guidance built in. I cannot see it.
Robert Campbell: As I said, because we are in effect the alternative provider, when a student fails in the mainstream we have the resource and provision for them in an area of our grounds. We provide that, and if that does not work, we put in place a package that works for those students. However, we are still responsible for them.
Q166 Chair: This sounds like a positive change-an improvement for those children.
Robert Campbell: It absolutely is.
Q167 Mr Ward: How do we know whether schools are fulfilling their duty? You are not keen on destination measures, I understand, Brian.
Brian Lightman: You must be very careful about quantitative measures like that. The destination measure at the moment only has partial statistics in it; it does not have the full picture. The danger is that you can measure schools against national criteria but they might not meet the needs of some students. The question is this: is every individual student in my school getting to a destination that is the right one for them? This is instead of saying, "X students are attending a Russell Group university or an apprenticeship"-or whatever. That is the danger. The problem about evaluating the quality of this provision is that you have these standards that we have talked about, such as Matrix standards and things like that, which you can use to evaluate it. This is something that is very qualitative. We must have a bit more trust here that schools can have a selfevaluation system that is validated by Ofsted, rather than expect-as some people have recommended Ofsted to do-them to come in and inspect careers guidance as part of the inspection when they are coming in for two days and looking at every aspect of a school’s work. It is just not realistic.
I would expect a school to be able to show how their careers guidance was going to anyone who needed to see it. It is the role of governors, is it not, to monitor the quality of what is happening in schools? It is part of the general performance management of the school. I am not sure we can have a heavy-handed accountability measure, but of course there are other statistics, like the NEET data and the employment data in areas, that will feed in. We need some consideration of what we do about an area.
It is perhaps for a local authority-if they have the responsibility for the raising of the participation age-to say, "What is happening to all of the young people in the area? Are we meeting their needs? If not, is there something about the careers guidance in the area that is a weakness that needs to be resolved across an individual school or across the range of schools and colleges in the area?"
Q168 Mr Ward: Do you have anything to add on the subject of criteria for measuring how well an institution is fulfilling its duty?
Robert Campbell: Like Brian, I would be very concerned about quantitative measures. You can get a child to a destination, but is it the right destination for them? It says nothing about that. That is why I prefer the NEET statistics, because you might have students who go to an institution and you have succeeded, but whether they stay there or not is something different. Of course, it depends on when you take your destination measure. At what date do you work out your NEETs figures? We have many students who last two months in a provider and then come back to us, for example, or do not come back to us and become NEETs. Looking at it in a far more evaluative way is absolutely critical-there might be a role, as you said, for governors-as is the way that we are challenged around a whole series of measures. I certainly do think that Ofsted should play a role. I am very happy for Ofsted to fulfil that function; that is what they are there for.
Chair: Thank you very much indeed for giving evidence to us this morning. We will move as swiftly as possible over to the next panel of witnesses. Thank you.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Professor Tony Watts, Visiting Professor, University of Derby and Canterbury Christ Church University, Steve Stewart, Chairman, Careers England, David Milton, President, Institute for Careers Guidance, and Dr Deirdre Hughes, Chair, National Careers Council, gave evidence.
Q169 Chair: Good morning and welcome. It is great to have such a talented highlevel panel on careers advice and guidance this morning. Of course, I think most or all of you have had the opportunity to listen to the first panel.
I will start, though, with the first question I asked the last panel. How important is careers advice and guidance in influencing the wellbeing and happiness of young people as they go through their lives?
Steve Stewart: It is massively important for two reasons. There is a moralprinciple issue that, as a civilised nation, we should give our very best support to young people to help them make the very best decisions in life. One of the joys of being a careers officer is that sometimes you bump into your exstudents and the young people you have met, and they do tell you their stories. Sometimes you are absolutely amazed by what they have achieved and what they have done. My best example is when I was working for the City of Coventry, and this lad with trainers on and a tracksuit said, "Hey, you." I turned around and he was there with his young son. I had no clue who he was and he said to his son, "Listen to him; he knows what he is talking about." He went on to talk about how I got him to be where he is today, which surprised me a bit because it did not look like he was doing too well in life, but he was incredibly proud of what he had done in his life and he was telling his young lad, "Listen when people like Steve give you advice, because it can make a difference to your life."
The second issue is simply the purely economic issue. As a nation, we cannot afford to have too many of our young people in the wrong places doing the wrong things and not contributing.
Q170 Chair: Do we have any way of evaluating this impact? Does the quality and the consistency of advice and guidance actually make a difference, in a measurable way, to where people go and what they do and thus to our national economic strength, as well as their individual life chances?
Deirdre Hughes: The answer is yes we do. In fact, the careers sector has a very rich evidence base both in global and indeed national terms. The important thing to say-it would be the same in the field of medicine or any other sector-is that it is always a challenge to say it was that one single intervention that was the key thing that made a difference. The proveitworks discussion is something for which we can draw on a whole range of evidence; indeed, the National Careers Council is looking at this in relation to social and economic returns on investment.
Q171 Chair: If we have it, where is it? If we had George Osborne listening here and we wanted him to hear one message-he is sitting there, trying to fight global recession and balance the books with limited money-what is the line as to why, of all those things, you would prioritise careers advice and guidance as a really sensible intervention and way to spend limited public funds?
Ian Mearns: His careers advice could not have been very good, could it?
Deirdre Hughes: We have to look at, for example, the findings from the ACEVO, which pointed to a potential loss of £28 billion to our economy if young people are not guided to the right place. We can point to some empirical evidence. I think the key message, which I am sure George Osborne and your good selves would appreciate, is that in this whole discussion about career guidance and advice, we really have to look at labour market demand and the economy. If we look again at the growth areas, there is, for example, advanced manufacturing. There was a national skills show last week. I spent yesterday with the Creative Skillset on behalf of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. We have three broad areas where we know there are skills shortages.
The key message coming across is that young people, parents in particular, schools and colleges are receiving mixed messages about where is the labour market demand? In the creative industry, we heard from Media City in Manchester. They cannot get enough young people who are technicianlevel and will build sets in the creative industry, which is one of our very rich and growing areas. The key message is not to prove it works, but to prove it makes sense to parents, young people and teachers in schools. I hope that from work the National Careers Council is doing, which will report in May to the Government on how to join the dots on all the activities, this will provide some compelling evidence to help make the investment argument.
David Milton: I would look at the converse as well. There is nothing worse than coming across young people later on who say, "When I was at school I was channelled into sixth form; I was channelled into higher education; but I wish I knew about apprenticeships." I think one of the lost statistics is the drop-out rate from post-16 education. I think if you quantified the cost of the dropout rate, particularly between 16 and 17, you would have a very strong economic argument.
Q172 Chair: There is a whole series of complex factors that go into that, not least educational attainment and all the rest of it. Again, if we look at areas with very low numbers of NEETs, can we show that in those areas, if you do a survey of young people, a higher percentage say they had effective advice and guidance compared with those areas that have higher numbers of NEETs? Help us out here. If you were making the case to the Chancellor in his current position and you had to do it in a couple of lines, what is the evidence that would make him think, "Yes, okay. I need to find money for this"?
David Milton: In terms of research evidence, I will perhaps bow to my two academic colleagues.
Chair: They are the last people to turn to in general. Sorry, I mean no disrespect.
David Milton: I do know there is evidence, particularly from young people who are NEET, that the lack of information, advice and guidance contributed to the situation they find themselves in.
Professor Watts: It depends upon the view you take of people, basically. If you regard them as units of production and at the mercy of market forces, you do not have a guidance system. If, on the other hand, you care for individuals and their decisions, recognising they have motivations, aspirations and a distinctive potential, which, if it is harnessed effectively, will give them fulfilling lives where they contribute to the community, then you make sure they have some time during all these years they spend in the education system in which they are able to focus on how the world of work is, to learn about it, to learn what the possibilities are, to identify their distinctive talents, values, skills, and motivations, and then move in the direction that will harness all of those. In the end, there are masses of evidence and that will be put at your disposal. However, in the end it is that moral issue.
Q173 Chair: I accept that; I expected no less from you, Tony. I do not agree with you on your first point. If you did just view people as units of production, I would have thought there is a very strong case to say there is a misallocation of resource because of a failure of information and understanding. I am not suggesting that anyone in Government is as narrowly instrumental as that but, for the purposes of convincing someone in a tough position who is looking at it instrumentally, it is quite a quick win if you can show to them that, actually, it makes no economic sense to do that, leaving aside the fact that there is all that wider moral benefit to allowing people to have the most fulfilling lives possible. Can I challenge you on that, Tony?
Professor Watts: I agree with you.
Q174 Chair: You do agree with me? So you were wrong.
Professor Watts: You can argue it in those terms as well, but in the end I prefer to argue it in those broader moral terms.
Deirdre Hughes: Chair, may I give you a figure to answer the question about NEETs directly? 26.1% of young people who could recall having no contact with employers whilst at school went on to become NEET, compared with 4.3% of those who had multiple experiences of contact with employers in schools.
Chair: Thank you. I had heard that. I was hoping one of you would say it, so thank you.
Q175 Charlotte Leslie: Steve, firstly, your view of the future is quite like Armageddon. The fact is that no one would want to change anything if the situation was perfect. The fact is that the current careers situation is not perfect; we have already said that people have not had contact with employers. In many places Connexions did great work, but I know from experience that in many places, if we are honest, it really did not. What do you think we should be doing better? Is it really as much like Armageddon as we think? Are there problems that existed previously? What should we be doing? The status quo has not been good enough; if you do not like what the Government is doing, what should we be doing?
Steve Stewart: Firstly, yes-it is grim. We have just put forward some more evidence around a survey of 21 careersguidance companies, covering roughly 40% of local authority areas in England. The key headline is that, compared with this time last year, only one in six schools has the same level of investment in careers education, information, advice and guidance. By definition, five out of six have not. We have less resource and investment into careers education, information, advice and guidance in our schools today than this time last year.
Secondly, there are some great examples, but we could not find a single school that has increased the level of investment. They are doing great things in creative ways with what they have; you have heard about some of that stuff before from previous speakers.
Thirdly, roughly one in 15 schools have brought their own person in. Of that, we know that only seven out of 10 people they have brought in are actually qualified to a minimum of what they call level five in careers, information, advice and guidance. There are examples from up and down the country-and quite significant numbers of them-of where teachers and others in schools have had this responsibility added on.
It is a pretty grim picture. Was it ever beautiful? I have put a 30year-plus shift in on this one. The reality is that it had got better each year. We were incrementally getting better and there were some glorious moments along the way. Anybody who has been in the trade for far too long will remember things like the old TVEI, the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative, from days gone by. That, and some of the stuff we did with that-we had records of achievement and we lined that up with career planning-was probably a real golden era for this.
Q176 Ian Mearns: What about the Lower Attaining Pupils Project?
Steve Stewart: We could talk for hours.
Chair: Not under my chairmanship.
Steve Stewart: History has some good moments as well. Looking forward, how does it look? I think we are at a defining moment, now. We can either carry on the trend that there is. I do not see, over the years to come, that there will be any greater level of investment unless there is a push to make that happen. That is why I come back to the moral and economic arguments.
We have three choices as to where we go from here, in my view. One is that we can stay the same and suffer the consequences. Another one is that we could do something different. What could that be? We could make the system we currently have work better. There are some levers we could introduce to make it work better. Another one-this has most of the votes in the guidance sector-is that we could make better use of our National Careers Service. This is a great moment of opportunity for what that could grow to do.
David Milton: Could I add something about levers? We would support a threepronged approach. One is that schools sign up for a nationally validated quality standard. There is actually a process under way, the Quality in Careers Standard. Secondly, the independent careers guidance they secure should be from a provider that has met the Matrix standard, which is something that Brian referred to in the previous session. Thirdly, the careers advice should be provided by qualified careers advisers. It was unfortunate that the statutory guidance stated that careers advisers "could be qualified" rather than "should be qualified". That would have made a difference.
Q177 Charlotte Leslie: It is easy to take things in isolation. We are seeing a changing educational landscape. There is the movement to academies. We will probably see the emergence of academy chains, which obviously poses the problem of what happens to those schools outside those chains and whether they form their own federations. UTCs will come on to the scene. Is there a possibility that this is beginning to transition into a very different landscape, with commissioning structures that are wider than individual schools? The original idea behind academies was to link schools up with a business and a sponsor that was businessminded to do that. I know things can seem very bleak when they change-generally any change is accompanied by people saying the world is going to end-but are there opportunities here and what should we be doing to seize them?
Professor Watts: It is changing massively, as you rightly say. It is clear the link with business is a very important issue, but all those links only work effectively if they are part of a proper careers programme in schools. The key issue for the Committee is whether we say the partnership model that we had-where we had an external service providing career guidance and schools providing careers education-is the better model and we must reinstate it. At the moment, bits of it are still there but it is decaying. It will continue to decay unless something is done. The alternative is to say that it is a school-based model that we have now-that is the reality-and we have very different kinds of institutions, but we must make it work. We need policies for that.
What we have at the moment is not delegation to schools; it is abdication. There is no policy. We have a statutory duty that is meaningless. We have statutory guidance with nothing in it. We have a practical guide that is not bad but is purely advisory. Schools can take it or leave it. The result is that some schools are hanging in and are doing some good stuff, because they believe in it and they think it is important. In a lot of schools it is reducing massively, and some schools are barely doing anything at all. This is disastrous for young people. The key issue for the Committee is which of those models you go for.
It is crucial. I will just say a brief word about international comparisons, because I think it is a really important issue. The Secretary of State believes very strongly in evidence from highperforming countries. The whole school-autonomy policy is based on what he has learned from that. There is some evidence, but in this area there absolutely is not. I did a paper for John Hayes summarising what we know about all of this, which, I am afraid, I have never been asked to have a meeting about and which has been ignored. But the evidence is absolutely clear. We used to have a worldclass system. It was not perfect, but there were many good people working to make it better, and it was very good. Incidentally, I am basing this on OECD evidence. I worked for the OECD on a 14country review that was subsequently extended to cover 55 countries through the World Bank and the European Commission and so on. There is a lot of evidence and I have been involved in a lot of these studies. I am talking on that basis.
In terms of highperforming countries, no highperforming country is abdicating in the way that we are. No country leaves it to schools to do what they wish-none of them. Finland, for example, which is often used as a key exemplar of what we should be aiming at, has professional career counsellors. Careers education is a mandatory part of the curriculum. There are clear guidelines for schools on what they should do. Each school has to produce and publish a plan, which is available to students, parents and employers so that they are accountable. We have none of that here at the moment; schools can do what they wish. That is the key issue for the Committee.
Q178 Charlotte Leslie: In this new era of autonomy, where they are trying to move away from "what gets measured gets done"-although that will still remain the case-do you think it would work better if there was more accountability for schools to track what happened to their pupils when they left schools? Would it work better if there was an accountability measure in place that reflected what kind of careers guidance they were doing? You do not focus the legislation on the actual careers guidance; you focus legislation on the result of the careers guidance. Do you think that would be helpful?
Professor Watts: The destination measures are doing that. It is designed precisely to do that. It is valuable and it is worth doing, but it is a very crude indicator in relation to this. It measures that students have found a destination. It does not say anything about the quality of that destination in terms of their distinctive aspirations and so forth. It is worth doing, but it does not cut it.
Q179 Charlotte Leslie: If we had a more sophisticated way of measuring the quality of where kids go from school-do not forget we are in a transition period-do you still think that schools would be failing to meet their careers responsibilities? If they were being measured in a meaningful way on where their kids went after they left, do you still think that would be the case?
Professor Watts: That is not enough.
Steve Stewart: Yes. I have had two or three conversations with head teachers recently about all of this. One of them said to me, "Look, Steve, being a head teacher now is like being a football manager. You have a vote of confidence from the Chairman, and then Ofsted arrive and you are out." It is a results industry. He said, "You asking me to spend some money on careers information, advice and guidance. At the same time, I am looking at the floor targets that I have to produce. Do I spend £10,000 on careers information, advice and guidance or do I spend £10,000 on a bit of extra tutorial support for maths and English to try to move some Ds to Cs?" He thought I was a thoroughly likable bloke, but he still went with the small amount of investment in careers information, advice and guidance and more investment in other aspects that were at the top of his todo list. Whatever we come up with, whether it is destination measures or whatever, there must be some rigour in there. As he said to me, "If I do not hit the floor targets, I get fired. If I do not do careers, I am not sure that I do get fired."
David Milton: Might I add something on destination measures? I do think there is merit in them. The problem at the moment, however, is that there is a time lag because we have introduced new arrangements for career guidance from September. Those students’ destinations will be tracked between October and March and will then be published. We will not see any evidence of whether this system is actually working until the results are published in July 2014. There is merit in it, but there is a real time lag.
Deirdre Hughes: There are two issues. One is the tidal waves of change that we are experiencing and the turbulence that is part of that change, and then there are the opportunities for transformation. In answer to your first question, it is really important that we have a vision for what a future careers service should look like. As part of that vision, of course there will have to be accountability measures. From the findings of the National Careers Council so far, we have been looking at the use of technology: how young people, parents and schools, etc, are using technology. Without doubt, as we move forward with increasing use of technology, it is important we do have destination measures and data that is available.
However, I have talked to parents’ groups as part of the National Careers Council. It has been likened to drinking water from a firehose. There is so much information. There are so many websites. There are so many possibilities. The critical issue is to ensure that we have some clarity in the future around what destination and employability measures mean and how these can be used to good effect. Critically, however, we must ensure that we can understand, in our changing economy, where we want to be in terms of increasing our global competitiveness. We do need some understanding of where people are going with their career development and where the skills shortages are. I would say, in looking ahead to the transformation that is required, we really do have to get close to employers and what the labour market demands are-if we are going to transform the economy into the one that we all want to see.
Q180 Charlotte Leslie: I have one final thing. It is slightly going back to a tension that was felt in the last Committee session. We were talking about how teachers are possibly not the best placed to be providing the actual careers guidance and how it should be qualified expert career guidance advisers. Some of our submissions from young people said that they felt most comfortable when it was their teachers providing that guidance. Do you think there is a role for the guidance to be more school and teacherbased? How does that tension sit?
Steve Stewart: I worked in a schoolbased model in Coventry. I came down from South Yorkshire to work in it. I loved it. It has some big pluses. The big pluses are that the time was there to be an integral part of the pastoral system. The time was there to catch teachers and have conversations with them about young people they were worried about. The time was there to get as much parental engagement as possible. Every time an angry parent came in, they always ended up in my office because the head teacher would say, "Look what we are doing for your kid for when he will leave school. Steve is going to sort it all out." It was a kind of selling. There are some big pluses in there. You do not have to be located within a school all of the time to do that, but those are the kinds of statements that are made.
However, there was a fundamental principle, which was around this issue of independence and impartiality. I was employed by the local authority. The local authority made it perfectly clear to me that my job was to give the very best impartial and independent advice. Even then it was tough, because you did have a lot of members of staff who would come and say, "Is soandso really going to do an apprenticeship? It really would be good if they came into the sixth form." You would have those challenges all of the time, but we never wavered on that. I have never met a single head teacher who is impartial. They are so proud of their provision and so proud of their sixth forms and all the rest of it-quite rightly. Why would they not be?
When I worked at the school, the head teacher used to say to the parents, "Let us be clear. We are absolutely biased in favour of the provision that we offer. We think it will do wonders for your child. However, there are other things; talk to Steve about them." However, the point is that, providing there are certain fundamental principles, you can get the very best out of a schoolbased model.
Professor Watts: Tutors and subject teachers have a lot to offer, and young people talk to them and will be influenced by them. They will receive a lot of help from them. What is needed is a wholeschool policy that supports them in that but also recognises the distinctive role of the professional careers adviser-for all the reasons that Steve has mentioned. They are complementary to one another. You need a wholeschool policy where all of the teachers are involved but there is also access to a professional careers adviser. It must be planned in a coherent way with a coherent programme. Inspirational talks from employers should not be one-offs, which may or may not work for a number of kids in a huge audience, but part of a coherent programme that attends to the needs of all the young people, with proper preparation and followup on all the things that go on, including students going out on work experience.
Work experience is crucial. The erosion of work experience is also a big issue. It is not only Connexions funding that has been taken out; EBP funding has been taken out; Aimhigher funding has been taken out; work experience pre-16 has been taken out-all of those things. It is about encouraging students to go out and encouraging people to come in, but as part of a coherent programme managed by teachers with support from professional careers advisers. That is the model.
David Milton: I think, as Brian referred to, the partnership model is the clear ideal between careers educators and careers guidance professionals. The difficulty is that if schools have to secure independent careers guidance without the fundamental careers education, it presents an uphill task for careers professionals when dealing with young people on a onetoone basis who have not had the preparation in terms of a careers education programme.
Chair: I imagine that most of you would not have given the statutory duty for impartial, independent advice to schools in the first place, but insofar as that is the statutory settlement for now, there will be a consultation on school accountability launched imminently. I think it is well worth engaging with that in order to change the drivers that drive performance of head teachers in schools.
Q181 Ian Mearns: Steve, when you were working and you were embedded within a school and you were paid by the local authority, you said you never wavered from being that impartial voice, but the trouble is that with schools now being autonomous and buyingin the service, surely they can colour the sort of service that they buy. Do you have any concerns about that?
Steve Stewart: Yes. They are and they do. That is very clear. Very often, it is for good reason. The Learning and Skills Council did a survey not so long ago and it found that only one in seven teachers knew what an apprenticeship was-never mind how you could apply for one. I understand that, because I do not try to be a chemistry teacher in my spare time. I do not know anything about it. I do what I do best.
I have witnessed it on many occasions in the past, and more so today: teachers will always do the very best for their pupils based on what they know. If they do not know, they cannot do those things that they should do. Yes, Ian, you are absolutely right: at the moment, it is getting worse.
David Milton: Yes, I would endorse that. One of the difficulties in terms of buying in is that there is no pattern across the country. You cannot characterise it by areas or local authority areas or counties. There are marked differences even between schools in one town. I can think of more than one example where two schools within a mile of each other have taken completely contrasting approaches. One school was maintaining, almost at the previous level, a service of something like at least a day a week that they were purchasing and, as I say, a school with an overlapping catchment area was actually interpreting that they would take it inhouse and the independence would be provided by access to websites and Careers Helpline. I think there is a case for parents to ask leading questions.
Professor Watts: You are absolutely right. Schools are often not buying it at all, but where they do it is not a partnership model; it is a contractor-supplier relationship. The supplier will know that if they wish to have a renewal of their contract, they will need to make sure they attend to the drivers in terms of the senior management team. Some of that can be conveyed quite covertly, but it is powerful. It is a completely different model from the model that we had.
Deirdre Hughes: We heard this from the previous session. We really have huge variation across the country at this moment in time in terms of transformation. I think it is important that we also do not do a disservice to all those excellent schools, teachers, careers advisers and local authorities who are coming together and looking at local solutions to how they can pool resources and make the most of what they have to come up with the best solutions. I really hope that, as a Committee, as well as focusing on these really critical positive issues, there will also be a focus on the problems in this transformation phase around it making sense locally and the level of variation.
Q182 Chair: Ian’s question, to get to the heart of it, is about whether this is fundamentally misconceived. If schools cannot be impartial-and we have heard again and again, including from head teachers, that those with sixth forms cannot-giving them a duty they cannot fulfil would, if that was true, be absurd, and one should put it somewhere else. Do you agree with that? If so, where should we put it?
Deirdre Hughes: I would say that in terms of the statutory guidance and guidelines, schools in some areas are actually working with careers professionals and employers and coming up with-
Q183 Chair: Are you happy with the statutory duty being on schools?
Deirdre Hughes: I would say that the link between schools and employers is absolutely vital and that we do need to have impartial, independent career guidance. The mechanism for delivering that is the real issue.
Q184 Ian Mearns: Is the problem with that approach, though, Deirdre, that you are expecting reasonable people to behave reasonably across the country? In fact, what you actually getting is a very patchy response to what is taking place. The problem from our perspective is that we public policy-delivered in a fair and even way across the whole of the country.
Deirdre Hughes: I think we would all agree with that.
Professor Watts: I agree with you. I think the word absurd is right. I agree with you. I think the policy is fundamentally wrong. However, it is unlikely to change within this Parliament and therefore we have to make it work as best we possibly can. There are some things that could be done to improve it. The statutory duty could be made meaningful.
Q185 Chair: Before I let you do that, though, let me say I understand the pragmatism but I have an awful lot of people come to see me who self-censor on the basis of what would be acceptable to the powers that be at any given time. I say, "One of the first things to be clear about is what you think is right and proper and should happen-even if it is not a perfect world." If nobody ever tells the truth, we will never do the right thing because we are too busy imagining that people in power will not do the sensible thing. What is the sensible thing? What do you think should happen?
Professor Watts: Go back to John Hayes’ speech in Belfast; read it; it is terrific. All of the things he says are absolutely right, and that was the policy. It was the partnership model, bringing together the best of Connexions and Next Step-with all the flaws about Connexions; we knew those. It was bringing together the best of it, reformed and reframed, with proper professional standards in the field. It was an allage careers service delivering impartial guidance in schools and supporting schools in developing their programmes. It was terrific. Everybody thought it was fantastic, but it frankly has been shafted by the Department for Education, who have not supported it at all and have, instead, put in a statutory duty for schools that actually undermines the whole basis of it, because the partnership model is pulled apart. The duty is framed so vaguely that there is nothing against which anybody who cares about this-whether they be parents, employers or whoever-can produce a sustainable appeal. That is where we are. The model, however, in John Hayes’ speech was absolutely spot-on.
Q186 Ian Mearns: That is fine, but can you imagine that anybody in the current Government team will repeat John Hayes’ speech, and do you think you will influence the Secretary of State for Education by telling him that his policy is fundamentally wrong, as a starting point?
Professor Watts: You were inviting a moral answer.
Chair: I was inviting some blue sky thinking before we moved to the more pragmatic side.
Q187 Ian Mearns: Honestly, hand on heart-and I have met Steve on many occasions and I know him very well-who sitting there now would advise a young person, "You should be a careers advice and guidance worker. In the future, that is your job; I can see you doing that in five or 10 years’ time"? Who would advise a young person to go into that profession, knowing what we know now? Are we in a transition phase or are we trying to rebuild from ground zero? Where are we?
David Milton: Well, picking up on the redundancies that we have had in the careers advice profession, I would hesitate to recommend it.
Deirdre Hughes: I think it depends on how you frame it. We could reframe that and say, "Do we think that we are in such dire straits that there is no need for careers advisers because everything is in such a mess?" The answer to that is no. There is a future for individuals who might want to pursue a career as a careers adviser. We only have to look at the transformation that is taking place to see that parents want this. There is demand for impartial, independent careers advisers, so the answer to that is yes; I would advise that.
At this present moment, we have to have a strategic vision of what good quality careers provision for young people and for employers is to ensure we have the right talent pipeline in place. Certainly, in the work of the National Careers Council, in May we will set out a vision for that. We are looking, for example, at six prototype geographical areas-you do not have time for me to go into all of the detail-where there is leadership and strong interest in looking at how local services and all of the excellent work that goes on in schools can be linked in. I think we need vision. We need leadership. There is something in saying that if there were nothing there at all, if we did not have any statutory guidelines, then we would be leaving it up to everyone to make it up as they go along.
Q188 Chair: Is there somewhere else we could put it? The National Careers Service, for example, could be expanded into young people. They could be given the central duty to provide certain elements, with duties on schools as well. It must be a partnership. Is that where you would prefer it to be, rather than the current settlement?
Deirdre Hughes: We are certainly looking at the National Careers Service and its connectivity to business and, indeed, the wider careers support market. We know from our discussions that there is a great appetite for the National Careers Service and the National Apprenticeship Service to share their expertise and work together. The National Careers Service was set up in April of this year. We are six months in; we know around fifty thousand young people have used the telephone helpline. We are not sure how many young people are using the website, because there is no specific requirement on the website for individuals to say what age they are, but I think there is huge potential for the National Careers Service to become a really strong leader in this whole area. We need to give it more time, and we do need your evidence to support our thinking about what the future should look like.
Q189 Alex Cunningham: A previous witness told us that she had never had a single inquiry from a young person for information about the National Careers Service; that is one very expensive piece of provision. It seems to be invisible, out there, to some people. I see the fourth recommendation from the Service says that you would "support central investment in marketing the NCS and communicating effectively to increase access and usage, from young people and adults, including parents and teachers". Are young people using this? Are you so strapped for cash that you cannot advertise appropriately to make sure that young people can access the information? I think this is really for Deirdre.
Steve Stewart: There are two things here. First of all, there is an embargo at Government level on advertising it. Indeed, we are absolutely on our knees cashwise across the nation. The reality is that we are trying everything we possibly can in terms of free media to try to get the message across. You are absolutely right: it is one of the best-kept secrets. The service has huge potential; it is doing great things. However, unless you are in the trade or you come across it, you would not know about it. It has great potential.
Professor Watts: That is absolutely right. The website is not being developed and the helpline is there but it is not promoted. When learndirect started approximately 15 years ago, it was promoted. There was serious marketing, and the result was that there were over one million calls a year. Think about it. These were adults. This happened because it was marketed. The need is massive. The demand is massive, potentially, but there must be marketing. Anybody in business knows that. If you do not tell anybody about it, they will not know about it and they will not use it. There has been no marketing. The result is that the volumes are really very low. If we are serious about the telephone and webbased services, we must market them. They are, however, only part of what is needed. They do not replace but significantly enhance and complement all of the facetoface stuff. They do not in any way provide any kind of substitute for it.
Q190 Mr Ward: Is the National Careers Service compatible with local advice and guidance in terms of local labour markets? There are a lot of areas that are now developing their own employment skills strategies.
Deirdre Hughes: I think the important point here is that the National Careers Service is a local service. There is a lot of discussion about it being online and over the telephone, but when you look at local provision there are prime contractors who are operating in localities with the brand of the National Careers Service but they can’t market this to young people. Certainly from our findings, when we look at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, as one example, we are seeing a model there where we have the National Careers Service right at the heart, locally, of bringing together the local authorities and a major employer, Experian, to look at a local solution to how to join the dots in terms of careers and employability provision.
Q191 Alex Cunningham: Is that the exception or the rule, though?
Deirdre Hughes: Again, we have to say that there is huge variety. Let me give you another example. If we look at Cumbria, Sellafield is looking at working with the local National Careers Service and the LEP in that area to model what local provision and a local ‘careers’ offer might be. The key message is that there are pockets of good and interesting practice. What we cannot say is that we have uniformity. We just cannot say that. We can say that, for the National Careers Service website and helpline, in the last six months they have been linking in with the Education and Employers Taskforce, for example, looking at career insights and how they can connect and strengthen the online offer. I think that is really quite progressive. It would be very easy, perhaps, to think of the National Careers Service as a national and therefore as not fitting into local determinism. It absolutely does. In areas such as Coventry those discussions have been driven forward.
Q192 Pat Glass: Can I come back to the issue of accountability? We have heard some very strong criticisms of the destination outcomes. We have also heard that Ofsted have said very clearly that they do not intend to inspect the statutory duty. How do we measure the accountability of schools? The statutory duty may well be in the wrong place, but, as we said, this is where it is now. How do we hold schools to account?
Professor Watts: I would say that, first of all, schools should be required to issue a plan and an entitlement: what students, parents and employers can expect, i.e. what the school is doing. What they put in that plan can be up to them, but it should be transparent and visible to the key constituencies to whom this really matters, which are students, parents, employers and other learning providers. Secondly, there should be some feedback from all of those groups that is used as part of a systematic review process. I think that is doable within the Government’s current policies, but there must be some requirement to do that, because otherwise that accountability will not be there. Ofsted still has a role; I think the Ofsted review will be very important. That should be part of it, but I think the key accountability is to those key constituencies.
Q193 Pat Glass: Should it be a costed plan of entitlement, so that it is not just nice warm words but we actually put money behind it?
Professor Watts: Yes, it should be who does what, with what resources.
Q194 Ian Mearns: Is Ofsted qualified to inspect the careers service or how it is being delivered in a school setting? Do they have that range of expertise at the moment? Do they have the capacity to do it effectively?
Deirdre Hughes: The National Careers Council has met with Ofsted to ensure that we can support Ofsted in terms of our knowledge and expertise in the area. We have looked at the line of questioning that they will take. I think Ofsted are certainly doing their very best, from the discussions we have had, to ensure that works well, but that is only part of the picture. We have had discussions with the National Governors’ Association, who are very supportive, in fact, of the line Tony has just explained, which is that they should have a watch on this area. But they also say that they have so many things to keep a watch on that it would be inappropriate to say, "We have to ask the school governors." However, I think it is worth looking at this within the context of leadership in schools. As Brian Lightman has said, there are good school leaders who have models of practice that are commendable.
Q195 Chair: Tony is going further than that. Tony is saying that-one way or another; I do not think he is suggesting a statutory duty-when next updated, and the sooner the better, the guidance should say that good practice is that you produce a plan, you make it publicly available and you have the plan, the content, the methodology and even the budget available for feedback. All of this is left to you, but you should do it. The minimum performance is to tell people what you are doing in this field and give some ability for them to feed back and tell you how you might do it better. What you then do is up to you, because you are an autonomous school.
Professor Watts: You could also break it down and say, "What are you doing about careers education? What are you doing about careers guidance? What are you doing about access to information?" You could enhance it a bit.
Q196 Chair: Is guidance the right place for that, and do the four of you think that is right place and the right thing to say? Does anybody disagree?
Steve Stewart: No. The other thing to add in to that plan is how they will demonstrate quality. You must be able to demonstrate that the people who are doing this stuff are professionally trained and are constantly updating their labourmarket knowledge, and the schools that are doing it themselves must have Matrix assessment so that there is an external challenge on them. There is a whole series of ways in which you can demonstrate clearly what is happening.
Q197 Pat Glass: How will we measure that this actually works?
Steve Stewart: There is a set of measures: what happened to the last year, what happens to those kids two years on, and how many post-17 students drop out.
Q198 Chair: We only had the first cut this year, but it is based on destinations. Trying to develop and make that data better is roughly the right route to take, is it? Deirdre is nodding and Tony wants to come in.
Professor Watts: On quality, that is absolutely right. There is accountability and quality. The threepronged model that David talked about we actually have- and it is potentially world class. Seriously, no other country has a better model. We are not there yet. Bringing together the associations in the new Career Development Institute is still in process and it is not easy, but it is moving. We do have the Quality in Careers Standard, so we have the organisational standard; and we have Matrix. At the moment, however, many schools do not even know about it and there is no pressure: you can take or leave all that stuff. Those are the two lines you might want to focus upon: accountability and quality.
Q199 Ian Mearns: To go back to Deirdre, though, you are saying that the National Careers Council are having discussions with Ofsted and that Ofsted are doing their best. That does not mean they have the capacity to deliver on the ground. We have to get hard, evidenced answers to feed in to Government. It is no good for us to say, "There are good intentions out there." What we need is evidence that stuff is happening on the ground that makes a tangible difference.
Deirdre Hughes: That is really why I think my main point was not so much to say, "Ofsted are well intentioned." My main point was that they are just part of the overall evidencegathering process. We cannot just purely look to Ofsted to give us the answer.
Q200 Ian Mearns: They are the main accountability measure for schools other than the national league tables.
Professor Watts: We should distinguish, Ian, between routine inspections, where it will always be limited, and the thematic review, where there will be resources to look at this properly. We will get something much more helpful from that.
Q201 Chair: Pat’s question was actually about accountability. Thematic reviews tell you more about best practice and help share it. They are a very positive step. What they do not do is drive the person who is not doing the right thing into doing the right thing, because they are driven by other things.
David Milton: Going back to accountability, I think there are issues here. I have come across schools who say, "Where is the policing for the statutory guidance? We might go ahead until somebody challenges us." I think that is the problem. We need to know where the challenges will come from. It can be strengthened in the statutory guidance, but there needs to be more follow-up in terms of the implementation. If schools are actually in breach of the statutory guidance, how does one go forward?
Chair: There is a smaller and smaller Ofsted with less frequent inspections, so the idea of just handing everything to Ofsted, when in some schools they are only going in every six years, will not always be the answer.
Q202 Siobhain McDonagh: I know you gave us your example in the beginning, but in your experience, Steve, does guidance make a difference? Do young people focus on future careers, or are they more affected by more immediate concerns like what their friends are doing and who the good teachers are?
Steve Stewart: There is no doubt about this. The first thing to say is that young people are more focused on employment now than I can recall them being in a long time. They are scared. There are all of the debates around the costs of higher education and the debt and so on. If you talk to any young people about what they are going to do in the future, within minutes they will raise the issue of cost and debt and all of that. They desperately want to know what the options and the alternatives are. I think the careers agenda is higher on their agenda than ever before. They are terrified that they may well find themselves like some of the others in their community for whom they know things have not worked out and they have moved back in with mum and dad.
The second thing is, in terms of influences, you are absolutely right. All of the surveys that are done periodically always say the biggest influence on young people’s career decisionmaking is their parents. Any parent will say, "I do not think that will happen to my son or daughter," but it does. The second one is always the teacher. It is not any teacher; it is their significant teacher-the one that they remember. The third one is their mates and what their mates do, because of streetcred issues around that. The fourth one is the careers adviser.
What you do with that, though, is influence the influencers. That is where you come back to the whole model about how you work with schools and teachers. That is where the alarm bells go off around the current policy, where we have teachers who have such a trusting relationship but are not trained in that area. Similarly, there is a lot of work to do with parents. It would be absolutely fantastic if we could promote the National Careers Service so that parents knew it existed. There are those moments when your son or your daughter says, "I am really not sure what I am going to do; what do you think?" They are very rare. When they do occur, you want to seize the moment; it would be great to be able to have a resource to which you can easily turn.
Q203 Siobhain McDonagh: How can you quantify the effect that guidance has? How can you prove this is the case to schools? As it is becoming increasingly marketised, being able to provide that proof is more important. In what way can advisers be made accountable?
Steve Stewart: I will answer the accountability one and then I will look to Deirdre, who is clued up about the whole business of how you measure impact. I think there was always accountability for me, operationally, as a careers adviser when I was one. I used to measure what I had done by what happened to the young people I had advised. When I was a manager, I used to talk to careers advisers and say, "Tell me the stories you are pleased about and tell me the things that have not happened." This was about how they could tell me a story that said, "As a consequence of what I have done, this is the difference that has been made in that young person’s life."
Q204 Chair: Are school heads interested in these stories?
Steve Stewart: Yes. The stories always interest them when it is the kind of person who they never thought would do much.
Deirdre Hughes: I would support what Steve said. For most young people, the outcome is a better job. That is what most people want. I would support this idea that, as parents and young people have to consider more the investments of time and money and where this will lead to, never has there been a time when careers advice is so critical. In terms of how we measure this, it depends on for what purpose we are measuring and from whose perspective. The issue in terms of schools is that I have not met any head teacher-I am sure Brian Lightman would say the same-who is not interested in what happens to their pupils afterwards. The critical issue is that they can report on the immediate destination measures, but we have to be thinking about how we can track individuals more in terms of their career trajectories to make sense of the added value from careers advice.
I will give you example. The National Careers Service recently published a research report looking at tracking the adults who use their service. There was an increase in terms of adults reporting that, as a result of the careers advice intervention that they had, they were able to get into and stay in work. There is also evidence, on the use of DWP national benefits database, HMRC information and individualise learner records, etc, that shows a reduction in job seekers allowance dependency.
The National Careers Service is doing some good things. We have a really good opportunity to see whether we can use a combination of different measures to demonstrate impact-whether that is attainment, retention or looking at some of the data around how numbers are flowing into skillshortage areas. We know there are high demands for technicianlevel young people. I think of the work of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and their new project called "Labour Market Information 4 All", where they are looking at how to best use technology to help track the labourmarket demand side and join up datasets. If we can use technology to good effect alongside that facetoface local intervention, then I think we have a really good chance here.
We must track how people’s jobs and careers changing. We must have some measure of that. Without it we will go back to the old paradigm of thinking there is a job for life. If you were in Manchester yesterday you would have heard from Creative Skillset that young people coming into their industry have to know that they will be largely self-employed. They will have to self-manage. You will have to find ways around a system of building new networks.
Q205 Ian Mearns: Given the data sets and tracking devices that you have, if we could put some sort of accountability measure in for schools by tracking young people until they are 25, seeing where they are by the time they are 25 and then holding schools accountable, we would know how schools have done in terms of preparing young people for the world of post-school life. If you were to track people through to 25, that would be a sevenyear period after they are 18. When they get to 25 could be when you hold the schools accountable. That might be very difficult.
Chair: Especially if the head teacher and the senior management team have all gone.
Ian Mearns: We are talking about doing that in other places in terms of recommendations in other fields.
David Milton: One part of your question was about the accountability of careers advisers. I would just like to draw the Committee’s attention to something that is developing now, which is the professional register for careers advisers. Tony mentioned the Career Development Institute, but one key part of this is a professional register for careers advisers. Those who join the professional register will be accountable, because they will have qualified with a level-six qualification, they will have signed up to a code of ethics, and they will have signed up to a commitment to continuing professional development. If you are an outsider, or a school that is commissioning a service, if you look towards the professional register, you would have somebody who was accountable.
Q206 Alex Cunningham: Deirdre, you have talked a little bit about this today, but you said you were reviewing the relationship between the National Careers Service and schools and colleges to look for areas of improvement. What conclusions have you come to? What will change as a result of that review?
Deirdre Hughes: I am not sure what will change, because we will report in May on that, but our conclusion so far is that the landscape is very different in different parts of England. There is no one single approach that we can see that is the only single solution locally. We are seeing that the National Careers Service has huge potential. Six months in it has huge potential in terms of helping build capacity in schools and local communities around having stronger labourmarket intelligence.
Q207 Chair: Will that be local? Will the NCS be able to schlep around the local employers and get the information there, or is that somebody else’s job and currently not being done?
Deirdre Hughes: With labourmarket intelligence locally, what we are seeing is organisations, if you look in the southwest region, for example, that are connecting with employers. They are located opposite the Jobcentre. They are looking at ways they can connect the Jobcentre to their own local labourmarket intelligence. By May, I think the Council will be able to give you prototypes and examples of where different models are emerging. We are seeing so far the critical issue that the National Careers Service has huge potential to really make a difference.
Professor Watts: Regarding the National Careers Service, let us be clear: at the moment it has no remit in relation to schools, apart from providing the website and helpline. That is all. Its providers are not even permitted to market themselves to schools as the National Careers Service. That is where we are. You have two options. One is to say, as we were saying before, that we will go back to the John Hayes vision and say that is the way to do it, and we get the National Careers Service and all of the providers locally who work with schools and make that work in terms of service delivery. I think that would be ideal.
However, you might feel that the Government will not go for it anyway and that we need a more pragmatic solution. The other possibility is to say the National Careers Service has a role in relation to schools but that it is about capacity building. It is about supporting the school in developing its own plans and resources and providing that crucial link with the labour market. It has to be resourced to do that. It is not doing that at the moment, but those are the two options that you have.
Q208 Alex Cunningham: Deirdre, have you answered on how cashstrapped you feel the Council is, and whether it is able to deliver the services required to deliver some of this grand vision? We have had extensive evidence that there is a very mixed provision. Everybody that has been in here has been telling us it is very mixed. Some of it is extremely poor. Even if you are a targeted group, you might not be getting what you need. I wonder what the real picture there is. Is it as bad as all that?
Deirdre Hughes: Cash-strapped is a very good description. That is why there is this pooling of resources locally. People are trying to come up with solutions locally to try to bring together the resources. That is not easy work. The message is that there are some pockets where we can see that happening. Equally, there are other areas where the provision is a real challenge.
Q209 Alex Cunningham: I am a bit worried that you can use the expression "pockets" when we are talking about the whole nation. How extensive is good provision and how extensive is poor provision?
Steve Stewart: Let me give some examples. I used to employ 370 careers advisers. Today, I employ 148. I used to spend, when it was funded through central Government, about £30,000 providing that careers information, advice, guidance and other support to schools, on average-some schools are bigger and some schools are smaller. Today, across Coventry and Warwickshire about £3,000 worth of investment is taking place.
Q210 Chair: Obviously, the money was not passed down to schools when the duty was given, but if the Department for Education found some money in its budget, where would you want that to go? You could put it in multiple places, I suppose, but would you want it to be passed to schools? It would not be ringfenced, but nonetheless they could be told, "Here is some money that goes into your general pot and it is for that." Would you put it there first or would you get rid of this bar on the National Careers Service and give them funding specifically to enhance their capacitybuilding and support for young people in schools. Which of the two?
Deirdre Hughes: I would go for the latter.
Chair: You would extend the National Careers Service down and give them the money to do so.
Professor Watts: It would definitely be the latter.
David Milton: I would go for the latter.
Alex Cunningham: With that, I am finished.
Chair: You are a very great man and they are very great witnesses, too. Thank you all very much indeed for giving evidence today. The business end of what we do, as you know very well, is to make recommendations to Government. If you have any further thoughts on what you would say if you were having that twominute chat in the division lobby with the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary of State and you had to make the case why overwhelmingly something needed to be done and you have a way of expressing that and backing that up, do let us know. Thank you very much.