From education to employment

AoC launches IAG campaign as schools face Ofsted criticism

The Association of Colleges has launched a campaign to improve careers guidance for young people as Ofsted reveals three quarters of schools it visited were not providing adequate advice.

The campaign calls for more investment, accountability, access and informed choice to address a failure to provide sufficient careers advice in schools, which have been tasked with giving this service to students aged 14 – 16 since September 2012.

It calls for:

  • Investment – DfE investment in the promotion of the National Careers Service should be increased to £80m, in line with the BIS investment, to ensure every young person is aware of an enhanced service with evidence to demonstrate it’s as well known as UCAS
  • Accountability – Ofsted should inspect and report on all careers guidance in schools and colleges to ensure staff delivering careers advice are properly qualified. Such institutions should only be graded good or outstanding by Ofsted if their careers guidance is good or outstanding
  • Access – improved access to advice with colleges, Jobcentre Plus and local authorities working together to ensure there’s one careers ‘hub’ in each area which is clearly sign-posted as a place where local people can get advice about careers options
  • Informed choice – Install a widget on all school and college websites to link to the National Careers Service

AoC president Michele Sutton said: “At a time of disturbingly high youth unemployment, including recent graduates, it is crucial that we all work together to get this right. Young people need accurate, impartial and detailed advice at key stages of their education to help them choose the right courses and access to the education and training they need to secure fulfilling jobs. We are letting young people down if we don’t provide them with absolute clarity on the full range of providers, including sixth form colleges and colleges, and to the widest range of options open to them, which include further and higher education, traineeships and apprenticeships.

“It is imperative that action is taken now if we are to provide young people with the inspiration and confidence to pursue challenging careers and employers with the skilled workforce they need.”

Ofsted inspectors visited 60 schools since September 2012 to look at the extent to which 14-16 year olds were receiving impartial careers advice in order to make informed decisions about their future.

The government has vowed to issue clear guidance on what is expected from schools in response to the hard-hitting report.

According to the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), schools also need the support of their community to provide sufficient guidance, and therefore should not be blamed for poor levels of careers advice.

David Hughes, NIACE’s chief executive, said: “Employers have a vital role in supporting Information, Advice and Guidance in schools to help motivate young people to see why learning is critical. Schools need employers, colleges and others to help deliver realistic and inspiring career and life education to all young people. The responsibility for this is not just on the schools working in isolation but for the communities they serve to also play a significant role.

He added: “We are pleased to see the swift response to this report from Government. It shows that the Minister is taking these findings seriously. However in our devolved system of free schools and academies we need community leaders, employers and parents to support and ensure that all schools provide quality careers advice for all young people.”

Natalie Thornhill


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