Changes in careers guidance duties for schools and local authorities

In the lead up to Easter, there were a number of parliamentary committee debates about the changes to the Education Bill for careers education, advice and guidance.  The committee debates took place on the 24th March and the 29th March.

The committee debating the changes to the Education Bill included MPs from a range of political parties, including Nick Gibb (Minster of State, Department for Education) and John Hayes (Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning). 

Following the debates, a number of communications have been made by the Department for Education (DfE) about the duty for careers guidance in schools and also the role of the local authority.

One of the main points was a new duty on schools to secure access to impartial and independent careers guidance for every pupil in Years 9 to 11.  Further to this, there will be a consultation in the summer of 2011 to decide whether the duty for careers guidance should extend down to Year 8 and up to Year 13. 

As part of my research role at CASCAiD, I have spent time in secondary schools working with young people in Year 7 right the way up to students in Year 13.  From carrying out this research, I believe impartial, informative careers guidance is essential for all young people.  Too often, a young person gets to the later stages of school only to find that they have chosen the wrong subjects to pursue their career of interest.  This could then involve retaking a year or having to choose an unfavoured career path.  It is therefore important that a young person is able to discuss their career ideas from an early age so they can plan their best route through education.

Furthermore, impartial and informed careers guidance can work as an excellent motivational tool for young people.  Allowing young people to understand why their education and different subjects are important for future success can help to boost motivation and performance.

Another key point from the communication to schools is the requirement to ensure that young people have access to a source of guidance that is external to the school.  It is essential that this is in place by September 2012 and schools should be working towards it during the 2011/12 academic year.

The external source of guidance could be ‘web-based or telephone services, and/or face-to-face guidance from a specialist provider’.  Schools that already have their own careers guidance procedures in place, such as employing a careers advisor, may continue with these arrangements,  as long as they provide young people with an external source of guidance.

As an external, independent source of careers guidance, resources such as Kudos, Careerscape and Launchpad could be extremely beneficial for delivering the new careers guidance requirements.

With regards to local authorities, the DfE has stated that  ‘local authorities will continue to play a crucial role in the provision of support to young people up to age 19, and young adults assessed as having learning difficulties or disabilities up to age 25’.  The DfE went on to say that the requirement for careers guidance from local authorities will only be removed ‘once the new careers service is established and the duty on schools has commenced’.

This communication makes it clear that local authorities still have a very active role to play with regards to careers guidance for all young people.  Currently, there appears to be a communication issue where  local authorities and schools are both expecting each other to be responsible for careers guidance; as a result, a poor service is being provided.

For the benefit of quality careers guidance, it is vital that the DfE are clear in their communications to ensure that no young person goes through school without advice.  I am interested to hear any comments you might have on the future of careers guidance in schools and also the role of local authority.  If you have anything to say on this topic, please leave a comment.

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