14th March 2016
Helping pupils to access information on the full range of options – an analysis of the DfE’s report, ‘Careers Guidance and Inspiration on Schools, March 2015’
The government’s most recent major report on Careers Guidance, ‘Careers Guidance and Inspiration in Schools, March 2015’, sets out that every school should provide “high quality” and “independent” careers guidance on students’ full range of options, so that pupils can make informed decisions about their futures. This is aimed at pupils in years 8 to 13 with the belief that it will inspire and motivate students to achieve their potential.
A key question here is… how can schools help pupils to access information on a full range of options? No one could argue that this is not a worthy aim, but with limited resources, how can schools achieve it?
The report states that from as early as Year 8, pupils should have access to and knowledge of “options offered by local university technical colleges and studio schools; opportunities for 14-year-old enrolment at local colleges”. But with schools under increasing financial pressure and funding being linked to admissions, schools find themselves in a catch 22 situation that has led some to push pupils towards their own courses, rather than allowing them to explore other options elsewhere. Students are thus set on a path that is not necessarily the best fit for them.
The report explicitly states that Senior Leadership Teams who have previously refused to allow local colleges and UTCs to visit their school should now actively encourage this to happen, along with opening their doors to local employers and apprenticeship providers. It is thought that this process will allow those pupils who do not thrive within the school environment to be inspired into pursuing training or education outside of this arena.
The government also advises that schools should encourage students to use online portals, like Unifrog, to provide pupils with information on their full range of opportunities. Pupils should use these portals as part of their careers advice and guidance provision. Good quality portals should allow students to access information on every post 16 and post 18 opportunity available to them across the UK. They should be easy to navigate and allow the pupil to make sound choices about their next destination.
We are due an update on this report from the Government at any time soon (the last guidance was a year ago, and it is normally updated annually), although there have been whisperings that the upcoming EU Referendum has meant that nothing new will be released until after June 23rd. Of course nothing is official yet, but our sources tell us that that the new guidance will lean heavily on the Gatsby Benchmarks – no bad thing, as schools could do with some practical advice, rather than being told to do more with less!
By Dawn Lloyd Williams