From education to employment

AELP calls on Ofsted to check that schools are providing impartial careers advice

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is calling on Ofsted to check that secondary schools are providing independent and impartial advice on the further education and training options available to students after their GCSEs.

AELP, which represents apprenticeship and vocational learning providers, has welcomed confirmation from the government that, from September, schools in England will be required by law to access independent careers advice from an external provider in addition to any service that a school itself may provide.

Furthermore, signposting students to an online resource, such as the government’s own National Careers Service (NCS) website which launches in April, will not be sufficient to meet the statutory obligations.  Young people who want face-to-face advice from an outside specialist careers service will be entitled to receive this form of support to help them make an informed choice.

Over the last ten years as successive education bills have passed through Parliament, AELP has been campaigning for a statutory requirement for impartial careers advice in schools. It believes that uninformed choices have been a major factor in Britain having one of the highest drop-rates from learning at age 17 among OECD countries.  Providers have also become increasingly concerned about the general availability of independent advice as Connexions services have seen funding withdrawn across the country.

The Department for Education has acknowledged that AELP played a pivotal role in the inclusion of the relevant Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) clauses in the Education Act 2011 and the Association is now delighted that the statutory guidance will say that a school will need to do more than merely point students towards a website.

AELP believes that the new obligations will help to raise awareness of apprenticeships among young people at a time when the government is looking to increase the take-up of the programme under the Youth Contract.

Graham Hoyle, AELP’s chief executive, said:“The government’s announcement is excellent news for young people who need advice in the current economic climate that will make a real difference to their prospects rather than just ‘park’ them in the system.

“Schools will need to be made aware of their statutory obligations and as MPs and peers from all parties have repeatedly made clear in Parliamentary debates on the matter, they will need to comply.  In our view, this requires inspectors from Ofsted to check on school visits that the necessary arrangements are in place for students to access impartial advice from an external service.  We hope that Ofsted will regard this as a priority under its new framework.”

AELP has added its support to the government’s welcome for the establishment of the new Quality in Careers Standard. The standard will provide national validation of the quality awards used by schools, colleges and work based learning providers to demonstrate they are offering strong support to young people through careers education, information, advice and guidance.

Hoyle added:  “Careers England and the Quality in Careers Consortium Board have done a fantastic job in advancing the provision of independent advice in schools.  Schools will know that they are getting value for money if they are using advisers who are occupationally competent to professional standards.”


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