1 Introduction |
Background to inquiry
1. The Education Act 2011 introduced a statutory
duty on schools in England to secure access to independent, impartial
careers guidance for their pupils in years 9-11. This duty came
into force in September 2012. Previously the responsibility for
careers guidance rested with local authorities and was delivered
through the Connexions service. At the same time, schools were
released from the statutory duty to provide careers education
and work-related learning.
2. Good quality, independent and impartial guidance
is an essential service for all young people, especially given
the current levels of youth unemployment, the forthcoming introduction
of the Raising of the Participation Age and the increasing range
of educational and training choices. We therefore decided to
hold an inquiry into careers guidance for young people to see
how schools were responding to the new duty.
Terms of reference
3. We announced our inquiry in June 2012 with
the following terms of reference:
- the purpose, nature, quality
and impartiality of careers guidance provided by schools and colleges,
including schools with sixth forms and academies, and how well-prepared
schools are to fulfil their new duty;
- the extent of face-to-face guidance offered to
- at what age careers guidance should be provided
to young people;
- the role of local authorities in careers guidance
for young people;
- the effectiveness of targeted guidance and support
offered to specific groups, such as Looked After Children, children
eligible for Free School Meals, teenage parents, young offenders,
those with special educational needs or disabilities and those
at risk of becoming NEET;
- the link between careers guidance and the choices
young people make on leaving school;
- the overall coherence of the careers guidance
offered to young people.
Evidence base for our inquiry
4. We received 83 submissions from a range of
organisations and individuals. This includes evidence from employers,
career counsellors and career guidance organisations, local authorities,
professional associations, academics in the field, Ofsted and
the Department for Education (DfE).
5. We held three formal oral evidence sessions,
where we heard from a range of witnesses. These were:
- representatives from post-16
destinations, industry-sector bodies and employers/employer organisations;
- representatives of local authorities and organisations
involved in providing targeted guidance and support to vulnerable
- representatives of a range of schools and the
Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL);
- representatives of careers guidance professionals
and the careers sector; and,
- the responsible Minister (Matthew Hancock MP).
6. As part of our inquiry we visited Bradford,
where we held informal meetings with: the local authority to discuss
its support for the new duty on schools in general, and its support
for vulnerable groups in particular; groups of students at Bradford
College to hear about their experience of careers guidance and
what they would like to get out of it; and local employers at
the Bradford Chamber of Commerce.
7. In addition, we held a private seminar with
young people involved with the British Youth Council, Centrepoint
Parliament, North Tyneside Youth Council, The Prince's Trust,
UK Youth and Who Cares? Trust.
8. Notes of these meetings are summarised in
annex 1 and annex 2 to this report.
9. The Committee has benefited from the involvement
of its specialist adviser, Dr Tristram Hooley of the University
of Derby, and we are grateful to him for sharing his expertise.
10. From September all schoolsincluding
Academies and Free Schoolshave had a statutory duty under
the Education Act 2011 to secure access to independent, impartial
careers guidance for pupils in years 9-11. At the same time, schools
have been relieved of the duty to provide a programme of careers
education and work-related learning.
11. Although the duty to secure independent and
impartial careers guidance was transferred to schools from local
authorities, the funding did not follow. Schools are expected
to provide the service from their existing budgets.
12. Local authorities are no longer expected
to provide a universal careers service. However, the statutory
responsibility requiring local authorities to "encourage,
enable and assist the participation of young people in education
or training" remains
unchanged. The DfE has advised that local authorities will be
required to assist the most vulnerable young people and those
at risk of disengaging with education or work.
13. The DfE published statutory guidance for
schools on their new duty in March 2012, which schools are expected
to have regard to when deciding on the most appropriate form of
careers guidance for their pupils. The guidance states that schools
are expected to comply with the requirement to secure careers
guidance from an external source but are "free to make arrangements
for careers guidance that fit the needs and circumstances of their
pupils". Schools "will be expected to work, as appropriate,
in partnership with external and expert providers."
The guidance explains that, under the statutory duty, careers
must be presented in an impartial manner and promote
the best interests of the pupils to whom it is given. Careers
guidance must also include information on all options available
in respect of 16-18 education or training, including apprenticeships
and other work-based education and training options.
14. The statutory guidance was followed by a
practical guide for schools, which was published by the DfE in
July 2012. The purpose of this document is to offer additional
information that schools may wish to draw on when interpreting
their new responsibilities and deciding upon the most appropriate
forms of independent careers guidance for their pupils. The practical
guide highlights issues such as the importance of face-to-face
careers guidance, the need to consider a programme of careers
activities and the availability of the National Careers Service
15. The Government has asked Ofsted to carry
out a thematic review of careers guidance to identify good practice
and establish a baseline for future improvements in the quality
of provision. This will report in summer 2013. In addition, Ofsted's
new inspection arrangements will include an evaluation of a school's
effectiveness in preparing pupils and students for the next stages
of their education. According to the DfE, "an important component
of this will include consideration of the quality of independent
NATIONAL CAREERS SERVICE
16. On 5 April 2012 the National Careers Service
(NCS) was launched, jointly funded by the DfE and by the Department
for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Through the NCS young
people have access to careers information from the NCS website
and advisers via the telephone, email, text and other online support.
Young people do not, however, have access to any face-to-face
guidance provision by the NCS and its remit does not extend to
working with schools.
17. Professionals in the careers guidance field
use a range of different terminology. It can be difficult to agree
on exact definitions and there is clearly some overlap. Nonetheless,
the following serve as working definitions:
- Careers education
is the delivery of learning as part of the curriculum. Careers
education is often closely related to work-experience and other
forms of work-related learning.
- Work-related learning
is the provision of opportunities to develop knowledge and understanding
of work and to develop skills for employability through direct
experiences of work.
- Careers information
is the provision of information and resources about courses, occupations
and career paths.
- Careers advice is
more in-depth explanation of information and how to access and
- Careers guidance or careers counselling
is a deeper intervention in which an individual's skills, attributes
and interests are explored in relation to their career options.
Why careers guidance matters
18. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD, 2004) sets out three main public-policy
rationales for the delivery of careers education and guidance:
first, that it supports engagement with learning and improves
the functioning of the education and training system; secondly,
that it contributes to the effective operation of the labour market;
and thirdly, that it supports social equity and facilitates both
social inclusion and social mobility.
19. Steve Stewart, Chairman of Careers England,
identified two reasons why good quality guidance was important:
first, "there is a moral-principle 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 [...] 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".
The financial cost to the nation was estimated by Dr Deirdre Hughes,
Chair of the National Careers Council, as a potential loss of
£28 billion to the economy if young people are not guided
to the right destinations.
Careers England estimated that the potential cost of young people
making the wrong course choices after year 11 could be as high
as £200million per annum.
20. The responsible Minister, Matthew Hancock,
while not placing a figure on the cost of poor choices by young
people, agreed that careers guidance has an important impact on
the nation's economy and the individual's well-being. He told
us that "it is vital in order to help everybody to perform
at their best in our country, which is critical if we are going
to succeed both as a nation and as an economy, but also for every
single individual to achieve their best."
21. We have not tested the profession's estimates
of the economic cost of poor choices, but we agree that there
is undoubtedly a price to pay for young people who make poor decisions
for both the individual and the public purse. The current levels
of youth unemployment add to the case for the necessity of good
quality guidance for young people. The question we address in
this report, therefore, is how to ensure that they receive such
guidance under the new arrangements.
1 Dr Tristram Hooley declared interests as a member
of the Career Development Institute and a member of the Careers
Sector Strategic Alliance. He is also a member of the Green Party. Back
Education and Skills Act 2008, section 68 Back
Statutory Guidance for Headteachers, school staff, governing bodies
and local authorities, DfE, 2012 Back
Securing Independent Careers Guidance: A Practical Guide for Schools,
DfE, 2012 Back
Eighth Special Report from the Education Committee, Session 2010-12,
Participation by 16-19 year olds in education and training:
Government Response to the Committee's Fourth Report, HC 1572
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
(2004). Career Guidance and Public Policy: Bridging the Gap.
Paris: OECD. Back
Q 169 Back
Q 171 Back
Ev 92 Annex A Back
Q 236 Back