6 Quality of careers guidance |
75. The quality of careers guidance provided
in schools was raised as a concern by many witnesses. This was
expressed in terms of the form the guidance takes, its independence
and impartiality, the limitations of those providing guidance
and quality assurance.
Forms of guidance
76. The vast majority of the evidence presented
to us, from a variety of witnesses, suggested that face-to-face
guidance was an essential part of any careers offer.
The Careers Sector Stakeholder Alliance outlined the findings
of an Institute of Careers Guidance (ICG) survey which found that
98% of schools thought face-to-face guidance was either 'very
important' or 'quite important'.
Of all forms of support available, face-to-face guidance from
an independent careers adviser remained the most popular choice.
77. This was reinforced by the young people whom
we met individually and by their representative groups:
one of the North Tyneside Youth Council's recommendations to us
was that young people should have more opportunities to have face-to-face
meetings with professional advisers.
Centrepoint argued that "for those with no parental support,
poor literacy or other support needs, face-to-face support is
crucial to help young people fully understand their options".
78. This unequivocal response in support of face-to-face
guidance added to concern about the future provision of such guidance
in schools. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)
cited a survey of its members in 2011 which indicated that while
42% were still making face-to-face guidance from a qualified professional
available to any student in need of it, 30% were extremely concerned
about their capacity to meet the new requirements. ASCL believed
that the provision of face-to-face guidance was likely to decrease
and commented that "it is hard to see how such an entitlement
could be universally honoured in the future".
In oral evidence, ASCL's General Secretary, Brian Lightman, explained
that although he did not think there should be a "sheep dip"
approach to face-to-face guidance, where all pupils have an interview
whether they need it or not, he did believe that access to it
should be available to all.
79. The DfE statutory guidance states that schools
can choose to secure access to face-to-face guidance where they
believe it to be the most suitable option for the young person
but it does not suggest that they should always do so. The Minister
confirmed that it was his view that that "face-to-face with
a professional careers adviser is not always and in every circumstance
80. As mentioned previously, we recommended in
our Fourth Report of session 2010-12 that the careers service
should provide face-to-face career guidance for young people.
Our view on the necessity of face-to-face guidance has not changed.
81. Access to face-to-face
guidance is an integral part of good quality careers guidance.
All young people should have access to such provision from a qualified,
independent provider, should they choose to take up the opportunity.
We recommend that a minimum of one personal careers interview
with an independent adviser who is not a teacher should be available
for every young person and that this is made explicit in the statutory
82. Online sources of information are a useful
addition to the range of tools available to young people. However,
as currently configured, the NCS website and other similar sources
of information do not provide a replacement for a well-integrated
schools careers programme. Several witnesses expressed concern
at the limitations of online information.
Their number included the NASUWT who told us that "computer-delivered
interventions and other counsellor-free approaches are the least
83. Concerns centred on the sheer amount of information
available as well as the way in which it is presented. Navigating
a way through online careers information was likened by Dr Deirdre
Hughes, Chair of the National Careers Council, as "drinking
water from a fire-hose".
Young peopleeven those who described themselves as "tech-savvy"spoke
to us about the difficulties of finding the right information
and of working their way through the vast number of available
websites. Other witnesses raised concerns about the quality and
impartiality of some websites and young people's ability to interpret
the information on their own.
Heather Morris, Careers Co-ordinator at Thamesmead School, told
us that websites 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 that they need from that.
84. Fears were expressed that, despite the shortcomings
of online information, many schools would rely upon websites to
provide the independent and impartial element of their careers
were disappointed that the statutory guidance and practical guide
issued by the DfE did not make it explicit that a referral to
a website was not sufficient to meet the statutory duty to provide
independent and impartial guidance.
85. When questioned about the use of websites,
the Minister praised the National Careers Service website as a
source of information. He also described the Government's new
website for young people, Plotr,
as "brilliant" and "exciting".
The Minister acknowledged that websites alone were insufficient
but, in contrast to other witnesses, he considered that the guidance
was clear that "pointing to a website is not enough".
86. Websites are a valuable
source of information about careers for young people. They cannot,
however, replace face-to-face guidance, nor are they sufficient
in themselves to fulfil the requirement on schools to provide
independent, impartial guidance. To ensure that schools do not
over-rely on directing their students to websites, we recommend
that the Department for Education amends the statutory guidance
to schools to make it clear that the signposting of independent
websites is insufficient to meet their statutory duty.
Independence and impartiality
87. Evidence pointed to inherent problems in
passing the responsibility to schools to provide independent
and impartial guidance, because of a conflict of interest
between that of the school and that of the individual learner.
In an environment where schools are anxious to retain student
numbers in post-16 provision, it may not be in their interest
to advise students to study elsewhere.
The main reason for this was competition for pupil funding. As
Robert Campbell, Principal of Impington College explained to us:
you do have this 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 [... ]doing the right thing for the children.
This drive for "bums on seats",
as it was described by one oral witness, has led to schools with
provision up to the age of eighteen facing, at times, a conflict
between the interests of their learners and the school's interest
in trying to keep learners with them because of funding.
88. This tension is particularly acute where
there are alternative education providers "in competition"
for the funding. The DfE statutory guidance says that schools
have a responsibility to act impartially and recognise where it
may be in the best interest of some pupils to pursue their education
in further education colleges or UTCs. It requires schools "to
establish and maintain links with local post-16 education and
training providers, including further education colleges and work-based
education and training providers".
Despite this, we heard evidence from a number of sources, including
in oral evidence from the Principal of Truro and Penwith College,
that schools with sixth form provision tend to restrict access
to their pupils by rival post-16 providers.
A survey of colleges carried out by the Association of Colleges
in March 2012 found that only 18% reported having significant
access to school pupils to inform them of the courses they offer.
74% of colleges said that schools would not even distribute their
The ASCL, in their written evidence, agreed that "an increasingly
competitive environment has increased tensions between institutions".
89. This creates a conflict for many teachers
as well in performing the new duty to provide independent and
impartial guidance. A report published by the Association of Colleges
in November 2012 found that 57% of the 500 teachers polled felt
obliged to encourage pupils to stay on at their school post-16
with 26% blaming this on overt pressure from school leaders.
We also heard from young people we met that they felt the careers
advice in schools is devised to get them to stay on in that institution.
90. It is cause for concern if young people are
not getting the necessary access to independent information about
alternative education pathways. It is important that schools are
made accountable for their activity in this area in order to encourage
them to open their doors to alternative providers. We
recommend that, as part of an overall careers plan, schools are
required to publish details of the alternative providers they
allow to meet with their pupils, including the name of the provider
and the nature of the contact.
91. We also heard evidence that employers were
not being given access to schools to talk to young people. The
interaction between businesses and schools was described to us
by Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of Engineering UK as "piecemeal".
He added that "engaging with business as part of careers
information advice and guidance is fundamental, but it will not
happen if it is left to a random process".
92. The Government has taken steps to encourage
businesses into schools and we welcome the enthusiasm with which
the Minister spoke about it. He told us that the Government is
"doing a huge amount of work to get companies and businesses
into schools, to get careers advice from a whole broad range of
people who can be inspiring."
93. We welcome the Government's
support for the increased involvement of local employers in careers
guidance in schools, which is vital for effective careers provision.
We recommend that schools be required to set out in their careers
plans their arrangements with local employers and how they intend
to enhance them.
Teachers and careers guidance
94. Under the new duty, the responsibility for
providing careers advice and guidance may often fall to teachers.
A survey by the Institute of Careers Guidance in 2011 found that
34% of schools were planning to use teachers or non-teaching staff
to deliver career guidance.
95. We heard from young people that they value
the advice and guidance they are given by teachers and school
staff. As the
Gatsby Foundation told us, "subject teachers are trusted
by learners, and have abundant opportunities to bring careers
awareness into their lessons".
Teachers can therefore be important partners for careers professionals,
but there are dangers if teachers are expected to take on this
role alone and without training and support. The Association for
Careers Education and Guidance told us: "unless these teachers/tutors
receive specialist training in maintaining impartiality and are
regularly updated with information about all courses, employment
or training opportunities available to their pupils they will
be unable to meet the demand" to deliver the statutory duty.
The AOC survey, referred to above, found that 44% of teachers
admitted giving a pupil bad or uninformed advice in the past,
while 82% said they did not feel as though they had the appropriate
knowledge to dispense careers advice.
Other research, carried out by City & Guilds in 2011, highlighted
a perceived bias in advice given by teachers towards their own
subjects. It also found "a widely held view across the 14-16
and 16-18 age groups that teachers could only advise on one thing:
how to be teachers".
96. Many witnesses expressed concern at the ability
of teachers to provide independent and impartial guidance, given
the limits of their knowledge of the world of work and of alternative
paths, including apprenticeships. Peter Searle, Chief Executive
Officer of Adecco, told us that "many of our teachers today
don't actually have any experience of industry themselves. They
do not know what happens in a company or anything about the structure
and the jobs that are available. They are therefore not personally
able to inspire students themselves."
The suggestion was made by a wide range of witnesses that teachers
should undertake professional development in industry and other
workplaces to enable them to provide better quality careers support.
97. There was also evidence that, despite the
statutory guidance that information on all options, including
should be given, many young people were not receiving this. Research
by the Edge Foundation found that one third of students had not
discussed the option to start a vocational course.
An Ofsted report, Apprenticeships for Young People, found
that the advice and guidance offered to young people on alternative
paths was not of a good quality.
Similarly, the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee said
in their recent report on Apprenticeships that they found that
awareness and resources about apprenticeships in schools and colleges
98. The DfE acknowledges the apparent shortfall
in teachers' knowledge of apprenticeships in its practical guide.
It states that "the new duty sets no expectation that teachers
need to become experts in Apprenticeships" and encourages
teachers to point young people towards the National Apprenticeship
At present, the NAS's remit does not currently extend to it operating
in schools and there was consensus among our witnesses that this
The Minister was not adverse to the suggestion of the NAS's remit
being extended to provide direct services in schools, agreeing
that the DfE would consider it.
99. We acknowledge the important
role that teachers play in guiding and advising young people.
We also recognise the constraints that they are under when performing
the role and that they cannot substitute for fully-qualified,
independent and impartial advisers.
100. We agree with witnesses
from business that it would be beneficial for teachers to have
a greater understanding of the world of work, particularly that
of the local labour market, and we recommend that teachers should
undertake regular professional development to enhance their knowledge
and understanding of the work place. The local focus and infrastructure
of the National Careers Service could be invaluable in enabling
this, and we recommend that this is incorporated within the NCS
capacity-building role outlined above.
101. We concur with our colleagues
on the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee that awareness
of apprenticeships is limited within schools. We recommend that
the National Apprenticeship Service's remit be extended to include
the promotion of apprenticeships in schools.
102. The DfE's practical guide highlights the
three quality assurance standards, known as the "three pronged
approach", that schools may wish to take into consideration:
- The Quality in Careers Standard
- The Matrix Standard for careers guidance providers.
- A newly developed set of professional standards
for careers advisers.
103. In its written evidence, the DfE referred
to the different quality standards but made it clear that schools
have the freedom to make use or not of the standards as they wish.
The statutory guidance further states that careers advisers 'could
be qualified' rather than 'should be qualified'. David Milton,
Chair of the Institute of Career Guidance, expressed his disappointment
at this permissive wording, adding that requiring the use of qualified
advisers "would have made a difference."
104. We welcome the moves to introduce quality
standards to the careers market. This is a good way to improve
the quality of the service; it can assist schools in their procurement
decisions; and it can provide a clear accountability structure
for schools. We believe, however, that the Government has not
gone far enough to incentivise schools to follow the approach
and that many will therefore neither aim to reach the Quality
in Careers Standard, nor look to commission advice and guidance
from quality-assured providers or qualified professionals. We
believe that there is a role here for the NCS in helping schools
to work towards the standards.
105. We recommend that the
Government requires schools to:
- achieve the Quality in Careers
- secure independent careers
guidance from a provider with the Matrix standard; and,
- ensure that advice is provided
by a level 6 qualified careers advisers.
We further recommend that the
National Careers Service's role should be expanded to include
a duty to promote to schools the benefits of working to these
Careers education and work-related
106. The Education Act 2011 also removed the
statutory duty for schools to provide careers education and work-related
learning (WRL) was removed by statutory instrument in August 2012.
The dispensing of WRL at Key Stage 4 was a recommendation in the
Wolf Report but when put out to public consultation, 89% answered
"no" to the question of whether work-related learning
should be removed as a statutory duty.
Careers education was removed as a statutory duty without any
107. We received evidence from various sources
which supported the need for careers education and WRL. We were
told by The Work Foundation that "careers education prepares
young people for school-to-work transitions."
Employers whom we met in Bradford were unanimous in regarding
young people as lacking in soft skills and knowledge of the workplaceexactly
the sort of skills that careers education and WRL were in place
to provide. This was echoed by the CBI, Business in the Community
and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers.
Young people also spoke to us about the benefits they gained from
108. The Government's statutory guidance says
that "schools should consider a range of wider careers activities
such as engagement with local employers and work-based education
and training providers to offer all young people insights into
the world of work".
The wording of the guidance was criticised by witnesses for being
permissive, leaving it to schools to determine the extent to which
they will include such activities.
109. The Government's decision
to remove the statutory duty on schools to provide careers education
and work-related learning has been heavily criticised by witnesses
to our inquiry. We are persuaded of the benefits of both these
former provisions and we recommend that the Government's statutory
guidance to schools is strengthened to require schools to provide
careers education and work-related learning as part of their duty.
104 Ev w1, Ev w2, Ev w14, Ev w21, Ev w23, Ev w42, Ev
w49, Ev w61, Ev w83, Ev w125, Ev w139, Ev w146, Ev w171 Back
Ev w49 Back
Ev w61, Ev 88 Back
Annex 2 Back
Ev w59 Back
Ev w103 Back
Ev 112 Back
Q149 (Brian Lightman) Back
Q 149 Back
Q 272 Back
Fourth Report from the Education Committee, Session 2010-12, Participation
by 16-19 year olds in education and training, HC 850-I Back
Ev 22, Ev w38, Ev w42 Back
Ev w63 Back
Q 179 Back
Ev w38, Ev 88 Back
Q 150 Back
Q 181, Ev 249, Ev w107, Ev w178, Ev w42, Ev w61, Ev 73 Back
Ev 107, Ev w139 Back
Ev 80, www.plotr.co.uk Back
Q 236 Back
Q 24, Q 26 Back
Q 36 Back
Q 24 Back
Statutory guidance, DfE Back
Ev w45, Ev w79, Ev w146 ; Q7 Back
Ev w79 Back
Ev 112 Back
TES 9 November 2012 p50-51 Back
Annex 1 Back
Ev 29, Ev w34, Ev w45 Back
Ev w49 Back
See Annex 2 Back
Ev w148 para 10 Back
Ev w142 Back
TES, 9 November 2012, pp 50-51 Back
Ev w84 Back
Q 14 Back
Ev w2, Ev w 42, Ev w83 and Ev w148 Back
Statutory guidance, DfE Back
Ev w42 Back
Ofsted, Apprenticeships for Young People, April 2012 Back
Fifth Report from the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee,
Session 2012-13, Apprenticeships, HC83-I Back
Practical Guide, DfE Back
Q 137 (Brian Lightman) Back
Q 278 Back
This standard was developed following work by the Careers Profession
Taskforce. It was recommended by the Careers Profession Alliance,
and endorsed by Government, that careers practitioners should
be qualified to a level 6. Back
Q 176 Back
Explanatory memorandum to the draft Education (Amendment of the
Curriculum Requirements for Fourth Key Stage) (England) Order
Ev w61 Back
See Annex 1. Back
Ev w175, Ev 29, Ev w 139 Back
Annex 2 Back
Statutory guidance, Department for Education Back
Ev w139, Ev 121 Back