3 Coherence and consistency |
36. We called for evidence on the overall coherence
of the careers guidance offered to young people. Most witnesses
interpreted coherence to mean the consistencyin terms of
both the quality and amount of guidanceof the offer to
young people across different settings and areas. The most common
response was that there was no consistency in the careers guidance
offer made to young people: a phrase that we heard continually
was that it was a "postcode lottery", or even "more
random than a postcode lottery",
with the extent and quality of the offer to young people varying
not only between local authorities but also between schools. David
Andrews, an independent education consultant who specialises in
careers education and advice, explained that "the careers
guidance a young person receives will depend largely on what his
or her school chooses to make available and buy in."
London Councils argued that: "as more schools commission
providers directly from the careers guidance market, it is likely
that there will be a lack of a coherent offer available to young
people attending schools in the same area and borough."
37. The Department for Education
should encourage local authorities to promote greater consistency
in the provision of careers advice and guidance in their areas
so that, while there is room for innovation and variation, all
young people have access to good quality, independent and impartial
careers guidance, regardless of where they live or which school
38. One way of encouraging greater consistency
is through central guidance but, in keeping with the philosophy
of greater school autonomy, the DfE's statutory guidance states
that "The Government's general approach is to give schools
greater freedom and flexibility to decide how to fulfil their
statutory duties in accordance with the needs of their pupils"
and that it is "for schools to decide the provision to be
made available, based on the needs of pupils and the opportunities
Schools are only expected to "have regard to" the guidance.
Similarly, the practical guide aims to "offer additional
practical information that your school may wish [emphasis
added] to draw on when interpreting your new responsibilities
and deciding on the most appropriate forms of independent careers
guidance for your pupils."
39. The Government's approach to issuing guidance
received a mixed welcome from witnesses to our inquiry. Although
we heard that schools had found the guidance usefulin particular
the practical guidea
number of criticisms were made, including that the guidance was
too permissive and did not go far enough in enforcing standards.
For example, David Walrond, Principal of Truro and Penwith College,
was concerned that earlier drafts of the guidance were firmer
on the need for schools to allow access to alternative providers
for post-16 education.
This is not explicit in the published version.
40. We welcome the publication
of the statutory guidance and practical guide for schools. However,
the statutory guidance is seriously weakened by its permissive
tone and the practical guide can be disregarded by schools, should
they so wish. The fact that the guidance for schools is spread
across two separate documents further diminishes its impact and
41. We believe that Government
could do more to promote consistency in the offer to young people
through central guidance. We note that the Minister was not opposed
to the proposition of combining the two documents into one, if
there was "broad consensus around that".
We consider that this would help to encourage consistency between
what was offered in different schools and different areas, and
therefore we recommend that the statutory guidance and practical
guide be combined in a single document. References to "statutory
guidance" in the rest of this report should be taken to mean
this unified document.
Approaches to collaboration
42. It was put to us by the Association of Teachers
and Lecturers that "the collaboration of all key stakeholders
and delivery partners in shaping integrated CEIAG [Careers education,
information, advice and guidance] [...] is crucial".
In considering coherence and consistency, we looked particularly
at collaboration between local authorities and schools and collaboration
43. There are differing views on the ways in
which local authorities are working to support schools under the
new statutory regime. The Local Government Association identified
the support of schools as part of the new role for local authorities
in assisting the delivery of careers guidance for young people.
London Councils suggested that the role of the local authority
should be to broker "relationships between schools, providers
The NASUWT went further in arguing that the local authority acting
as a third party to buy in services could "help to maintain
an economy of scale that will otherwise be lost."
44. This is played out on the ground in what
the Institute of Career Guidance told us was "a diverse and
sometimes confusing range of practice" across the country.
Some local authorities are leading on the establishment of partnerships
with schools; others are restricting their involvement with the
provision of careers guidance services to their duty towards targeted
groups. The DfE drew
attention to the example of local authorities which were "drawing
on their expertise to offer services to schools on a traded basis".
It also highlights in its practical guidance a case study from
Blackburn with Darwen, where careers guidance services have been
commissioned in a partnership between schools with the support
of the local authority.
45. We visited Bradford Metropolitan District
Council which is one of a small number of local authorities commissioning
a careers guidance service for schools that wish to buy into the
arrangement. The Council has procured careers services for 29
of its 32 schools.
We were told by the Council that this approach had "ensured
that we are able to both target our resource at those most in
need whilst retaining a consistently good level of universal provision
for all participating schools and FE colleges."
A similar model is being used by Gloucestershire County Council.
46. We commend the efforts
made by some local authorities to support their schools in taking
on the new duty, particularly by working with them to form consortia
and partnerships to procure independent and impartial careers
guidance. We recommend that the Government's statutory guidance
is strengthened to emphasise the benefits of this approach. We
also recommend that the Government promotes the activities of
the best performing local authorities so that best practice can
47. We also heard evidence of schools working
together to realise the benefits of economies of scale. We were
told by Robert Campbell, Principal of Impington College that "clusters
and consortia of schools are increasingly working together"
to commission services.
Heather Morris from Thamesmead School explained that her school
is working in a consortium of six, which together have bought
in a careers adviser to work across all of the schools.
48. The DfE has recognised the advantages of
school consortia in commissioning of careers guidance services
and highlighted in its practical guidance two examples, in Sutton
and Slough. We note,
however, that the statutory guidance does not actively encourage
schools to form consortia or partnerships, stating only that "Schools
may [our italics] work individually or in consortia/partnerships
to secure careers guidance services."
The practical guide similarly advises schools that they "could
[our italics] consider forming a consortium with other local schools
and education and training providers to commission a shared, independent,
49. We conclude that a collaborative
approach to commissioning careers guidance services has many advantages
for schools, particularly in promoting consistency and quality
and in realising economies of scale. We recommend that the statutory
guidance is strengthened better to reflect the benefits of this
40 Ev 91 Back
Ev 163 Back
Ev 114 Back
Statutory guidance, DfE, para 3 Back
Practical Guide, DfE, introduction Back
Practical Guide, DfE Back
Ev 104, Ev w163 Back
Q 25 Back
Ev w2 Back
Ev 114, Ev w125 (also Ev w171) Back
Ev w63 Back
Ev 104 Back
Ev 163 Back
Ev 80 Back
Practical guide, DfE Back
The total cost of the contract is around £2.3million, made
up of £290,000 contributed by schools and FE colleges
and a further £2.01million from the local authority. The
latter amount includes £500,000 to provide a high needs intensive
support service as part of the youth service. Back
Ev 188 Back
Ev w163 Back
Q 116 Back
Q 123 Back
Practical Guide, DfE Back
Statutory Guidance, DfE Back
Practical Guide, DfE Back