Note of Committee's visit to
22 October 2012
The Committee undertook a visit to Bradford as part
of its inquiry into Careers Guidance for Young People. During
the course of the day it met with: Bradford Metropolitan District
Council; students and members of the senior leadership team of
Bradford College; and local employers at Bradford Chamber of Commerce.
Bradford Metropolitan District Council
The Council discussed the partnership it had established
with a number of schools to provide universal and targeted careers
guidance services for young people. The following points were
- The partnership approach allowed economies
of scale to be realised.
- The Council had negotiated a flexible
contract which gave schools a minimum level of provision but also
the ability to purchase more should they wish to. The contract
also allowed the Council to fully meet its responsibility to targeted
- Each school in the partnership provided
a minimum of £10,000 to the partnership with the Council
providing a much larger sum of money for targeted services.
- There was some concern around the
future funding of the partnership. As schools did not have any
additional budget given to them to perform the duty, it was unclear
whether or not they would continue to put money into careers guidance
services. The schools were only committed on a yearly basis and
the Council had to wait to see how many would sign up for future
- Representatives of the schools in
the partnership commented that they found it difficult to see
how schools could provide the level of service without the local
authority's partnership. They saw the partnership as a particular
strength and commented that the contract was well-negotiated and
provided best value for money. However, the provision being bought
into schools was described as "adequate", with around
one and a half days a week being given to each school. This was
compared to the previous provision of two days a week in the last
year and four days a week prior to that.
- There is performance management of
the contract and the provider is obliged to seek feedback on itself.
This is one way that the impartiality and quality of the contract
- The Council had encouraged schools
to maintain work-experience and work placements for students both
pre- and post-16. It had also encouraged the promotion of apprenticeships
to young people in schools.
- There is a tension over whether a
contractor can deliver truly independent advice and guidancewhich
may include advice to not remain at an institutionwhen
they are paid by that institution.
- It was commented that the guidance
provided by the DfE was written in such a way that some head teachers
will conclude that it is acceptable to "give young people
a leaflet" to meet the duty for independent and impartial
- There was broad agreement that the
expansion of the National Careers Service's role to provide face-to-face
support to young people would be a good thing. This view was accompanied,
however, by a very strong feeling that the support to young people
needed to be rooted in the locality. This way local labour market
information can be fed into the information, advice and guidance
that young people receive.
The targeted support and Youth Contract provision
in Bradford was also discussed.
- Under the Youth Contract, three NEET
groups were being targeted: pupil referrals, young offenders and
young parents. Key workers will work closely with personal advisors
from Connexions and the young people will be identified through
- Bradford had developed its own risk
of NEET indicator system and this was being used to ensure early
Bradford Collegesenior leadership team
The Committee met first with members of the senior
leadership team, and the following points were made:
- The College receives a high number
of entrants aged 17, who arrive after having studied a year of
A levels. This was as a direct result of young people receiving
poor advice in year 11.
- Many schools were not giving impartial,
independent advice to their pupils - and it was not possible for
them to do so because of their own vested interest in retaining
- The College has a school liaison team,
which had built good relationships with some schools while there
was more difficult relationships with others. The College had
been denied access to talk to pupils at a number of local schools.
An example was given of one Ofsted outstanding school to which
the College had never been invited to give information to its
pupils. This school retains 87% of its pupils into its own sixth
- It was suggested that one way of making
head teachers more accountable for the quality of the careers
advice and guidance would be through tracking of 20 to 25 year
oldsin other words, long term destination measures.
- It was recommended that the statutory
duty to provide independent and impartial careers guidance should
be removed from schools.
Asked about their experience of careers guidance,
the students made the following points:
- A student had spoken to someone in
year 11 and as a result had done a year of sixth form. There
had been no guidance at the end of that. Many felt that they
had wasted a year in this way. They had stayed on because it
was the easiest option and was promoted by the school.
- Similarly, a number of other students
felt that the advice they received from Connexions advisers in
year 11 had been poor and that they had spent a year doing courses
which did not help them achieve their career goals. This too was
described by many as a "wasted year".
- There was general agreement that you
did not get advice if you were not staying on at school. All
present had found their courses by themselves without guidance.
Two students said that they had never spoken to anyone about
- All agreed that any advice given was
on jobs and not how to get there. It was all about what you want
to do and not about what skills you have and what you could do.
- For some students, the main source
of advice was their parents.
- Once you left school, you had to know
about advice centres and what to say when you got there. Former
schoolmates who had left school without advice were now "lost",
- Once you leave education, there is
no help available to get back into it. There should be more help
for those who leave VI form after one year.
- Labour market information was regarded
as important by the students although there was agreement that
this was lacking. Some commented that they would have liked to
have been given more information on the post-course employment
rate before they enrolled.
- Asked about careers guidance at the
FE college, only one student had been to see the adviser. The
others present were not aware that there was such a person.
On the question of how careers guidance could be
improved the following points were made:
- Schools should provide as much information
as they can about your future, including that college is not just
for those who can't get into sixth form.
- One student argued that the main purpose
of schools was to deliver in terms of education. They should
not be telling you where you should go next. However, there was
some support for the concept that schools should give careers
advice: "because teachers know you".
- Young people should not have to choose
a career in year 11. They should wait until they have better
- It would be a good idea to have more
open days and workshops at colleges so students could see what
it was like. Teachers should know more about courses. Schools
should also give colleges a platform. There should be a careers
day with different colleges attending.
- Another idea was motivational talks
in schools about what you could do.
- Schools should give students information
on what is available and the consequences if you leave at 16,
17, 18 etc. For example, they should tell you that you have to
pay the full amount to do an apprenticeship at 24. At present,
there was no information on what you could do or possible avenues.
- Schools should also collaborate with
businesses: no information had been available through schools
about the big companies in Bradford and what they were doing.
Those present suggested the following recommendations:
- Get knowledge across to children in
year 10 at the latest
- Year 9 when students pick their options
would be even better.
- There should be more promotion of
different courses and careers.
- Face-to-face advice was definitely
more important than other types of advice. It was not good enough
to have advice available only on the phone or online.
- There should be opportunities to meet
careers advisers and those doing the jobs.
Bradford Chamber of Commerce
The following points were made to the Committee by
- There was general agreement that careers
advice for young people was "limited, unimaginative and of
poor quality". It was also widely felt that engaging with
schools was very difficult.
- Schools need to be given more capacity
to take on the careers guidance duty.
- The focus of advice appeared to be
on getting young people to go to university rather than on how
to get into a particular career or job.
- Young people's lack of knowledge of
what employers require was a concern shared by all delegates.
There was a strong feeling that the education system was biased
towards qualifications rather than giving young people workplace
and "soft" skills. It was this that employers thought
was most important to have in young recruitsparticularly
for SME employers. One delegate thought that the awareness of
the world of work should be part of the curriculum.
- There was agreement that teachers
should have local labour market training as part of their continuous
professional development. In addition, teachers should undertake
work placements to increase their understanding of business and
other work-place environments. Many teachers have gone straight
to teaching from university and have not experienced the wider
world of work.
- The current work placement model doesn't
work for employers. One person mentioned the amount of red tape
involved in taking on work experience students. For this reason
he was hesitant to continue providing this opportunity.
- A number of delegates felt that the
quality of careers guidance should be a key performance indicator
under Ofsted inspections.
- Many felt that careers advice and
guidance needed to be demand-led not supply-led and to take into
account local business needs.