From education to employment

Most schools understand the need to promote technical and academic routes to students, Ofsted review finds

college kids walking into school

Ofsted has today published a review of careers provision in schools and further education and skills (FE & Skills) providers.

The review found schools and FE & Skills providers understand the importance of promoting both technical and academic pathways to students. Additionally, most providers are making good progress towards improving students access to options such as apprenticeships and technical qualifications. However, some FE & Skills providers were having difficulties promoting courses to schools and teachers’ knowledge of technical pathways, especially T-levels, could be limited. 

Where careers guidance in schools tended towards academic pathways, this was mainly due to schools’ lack of strategic planning around their careers programme and the needs of individual students.  

The review also found the role of career leaders is generally well embedded in schools and colleges, and leaders find the Gatsby Benchmarks helpful when reviewing and developing their careers programme.

When collaboration between teachers, leaders and career specialists was high, it helped students get the right information, guidance and advice on potential career pathways. The link between curriculum and careers is strong in most schools, however specific aims for students in year 7 and 8 could be clearer.

The report highlights the importance of careers hubs in ensuring effective employer engagement and work experience opportunities for students. 

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman said: 

“Careers guidance is so important when it comes to helping children navigate their next steps after school or college. I’m really pleased to see that schools are improving students access to higher and further education, as well as apprenticeships and employers. 

“I hope this review is helpful for the schools and colleges as they plan their career education moving forward.” 

The report included several recommendations including that school and FE and Skills providers should: 

  • Take advantage of the potential benefits of networks such as careers hubs that can support employer engagement
  • Ensure the careers programme is delivered by staff with the necessary expertise, and with appropriate support from careers specialists
  • Continue to develop staff knowledge of technical pathways (including T levels) and promote these equally alongside academic routes, using the Department for Education’s updated statutory guidance   
  • Make sure encounters with employers, such as through careers fairs and talks, are delivered in a way that is most beneficial for students and learners

This review was undertaken at the request of the Department for Education. 

During the 2023 spring term Ofsted carried out research visits to 30 schools and 14 FE and Skills providers. Ofsted also reviewed a sample of inspection evidence and held focus groups with inspectors, employers, and independent learning providers (ILPs).

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