Career Guidance Failures in Ofsted Annual Report 14/15: Some of the Causes

Yesterday, HMCI Sir Michael Wilshaw published The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2014/15.  Whilst newspaper headlines focused on regional differences in how secondary schools performed, I was looking at the instances of failure in careers guidance contained in the report.  However, if you would like to see some information on the causes of these failures and, even better, some advice on how to address them, you’ll have to look here rather than the Ofsted report.


No schools had appropriately detailed implementation plans to ensure that careers guidance was suitably resourced and delivered.

Across all year groups, there was a lack of structured plans to raise pupils’ aspirations and extend their understanding of the array of available options.

Using the data collected from our tool, Outstanding Directions, we know that the worst performing top tier section of careers guidance provision is Management.   Out of a top score of 3, Management rated 2.1 (averaged across 341 participants) and within this section Leadership scored a paltry 1.6 and Finance scored 2.3.  This suggests that whilst most participants felt that financing for careers guidance provision deserved a rating of at lease Amber, the priority among governors left something to be desired.  (The tool uses a Red, Amber, Green rating system).

Quite obviously, there aren’t many schools out there that have allocated careers guidance to a single named governor as we recommend.  This would be the first step to ensuring robust and comprehensive provision.  From the case study of Strode College in Somerset “Governors, leaders and senior managers set a clear and ambitious vision and strategic priorities.

Use of Data on Students’ Intentions

Only one in five schools were effective in ensuring that all its pupils in Years 9, 10 and 11 were receiving the level of information, advice and guidance they needed to support decision-making.

Poor advice in schools led to a small number of apprentices interviewed initially starting an A-level course that they felt had delayed their career.

One of the most common reasons that pupils do not sustain their study or employment is because the advice and guidance they received when they chose that route was flawed or insufficient.

Another measurement that the tool takes is the extent that students’ data on their career intentions are used to ensure appropriateness of the careers guidance they receive.  The data tells us that, with an average rating of just 1.9, a lot more could be done to ensure that the information and advice that student’s receive uses data on their intentions to help ensure appropriateness.  This can be used to ensure the right students are invited to careers events and can also be used to identify those students most in need of IAG.

External Stakeholders

…two schools had failed to provide any resources for pupils beyond the prospectus for local colleges and universities

Here, we saw an average score for engaging with local college and universities of 2.2 suggesting that OFSTED had inspected a couple of outliers; two schools who weren’t following the approach taken by most schools by having regular contact, events and information gathering between staff.  Not only does this help to inform staff of options available, it can also help support student transitions.


Its great that OFSTED are starting to give career guidance the attention it deserves.   When its done well, career guidance can increase the relevance of learning, boost engagement and reduce counterproductive behaviour, I’m glad the government has finally taken note.


We’ll be taking an indepth look at the individual OFSTED reports for inspections undertaken after 1st September this year to see how widespread evaluation of careers guidance is and I’ll be blogging about the findings later.


Have you had an Ofsted inspection since Sept. 1st (2015)?  If so,  how much time did the inspectors spend evaluating your careers guidance provision?  How did they do this?




Outstanding Directions is a free tool that helps you evaluate and improve on the many factors that make up good careers guidance provision, including training of staff, co-ordination of activities, destination data and face-to-face guidance.  The full list and their average scores are shown here:


If you’d like to know more about how the tool can help you improve career guidance in your establishment, or want to know more about the data we’ve collected then please contact me at

We always anonymise our data.


CASCAID.  Our purpose?  Your purpose.






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