Back in March 2015 I posted a blog called For Every School A Careers Leader – it set out the rationale behind the TeachFirst Careers Leader training programme which was being trialled at the time. Having run a few cycles of careers leader training, TeachFirst have called on the Government to meet the following needs which they have identified. Price Waterhouse Coopers LLP have estimated the cost of these measures to be just £13 per child.
- A comprehensively trained careers leader in every secondary school, to lead on developing a whole-school careers and employability strategy. This training should last a minimum of six days, spread out over a year
- Senior leaders must support this work and all school leaders should undertake training to be equipped to play their role in supporting the delivery of careers provision in school
- To enable teachers to have time away from school, the Government should invest £5.8 million ringfenced funding for supply teacher cover
- Training for all other staff members to play their part in delivering good careers and employability learning across the curriculum
- Among several training routes, a careers leadership apprenticeship route should be developed, as part of plans to develop other middle leadership apprenticeships
What would the projected outcome of the TeachFirst measures be?
The identified objective of the report is to:-
- Narrow the gap in the proportion of young people taking part in further education or employment based training after nishing their GCSEs
- Narrow the gap in university graduation, including from the 25% most selective universities
Do we need to ensure more young people enter university?
Those of you who know my personal standpoint will know that I don’t think that a university education is necessary for a fulfilling, lucrative and successful career. However, it is the Government agenda which we all work towards. We know that the labour market is changing, Brexit will undoubtably have an effect upon the type of jobs that are available, where they are and the qualifications they require. As educators our objective may well be the holy grail of ‘A good general standard of education’ However, we do have an obligation to prepare our students to go forth into the world able to make the best of the opportunities that are out there. We cannot do that effectively without equipping them with the skills needed to enter and negotiate an increasingly difficult employment landscape.
That having been said, the changing labour market and the rise in school participation age means that we have far more young people are in full time education until at least 18 meaning that we need to alter the curriculum to take account of their needs AND the change in the labour market that means far fewer people under the age of 18 have the opportunity to gain experience in part time employment
Why isn’t what we have working? Why do we need to change?
Since Connexions was disbanded in 2012 schools have all muddled along, working out what to do. Some now have excellent programmes in place, organised, effective and suitable for their cohort. Others have done little or nothing. Hence we have patchy coverage – often schools in adjacent areas having vastly different levels of provision and efficacy. England and the UK in general needs to ensure that the skills gap is minimised. We need enough engineers, creatives and people to fill the jobs that are available in the UK. Like it or not, Government looks to education to be able to do this.
Since 2012 the first year drop out rate for university courses has risen continually. It can be argued that this is due to the lack of access to good careers advice. There has ever been a queue of stories that tell how rubbish the meeting they had with a careers adviser was. Well the world of careers advice is a rapidly changing one.
Now there are a number of roles which come under the term career professional. They include coaches, counsellors, information and service managers as well as educators – This can be seen as a by product of the research done by the Gatsby Foundation that sets out 8 benchmarks for effective careers provision. However, it must be said that The formation of the Career Development Institute has been instrumental in pushing forward the evolution of the role of careers professionals. The careers professional of the 21st Century is a vastly different animal to the one you might have encountered in 1980 or even in 2013. Careers provision is a much more joined up effort. It cannot be seen as the remit of one person – it is the responsibility of all those involved in education.
The changing face of careers in the classroom
Social Capital – a catch all term that defies pinning down to a single definition. Even the OECD in their publication Human Capital fails to define it. My personal definition is ‘Non monetary support that Mummy & Daddy provide to their offspring in the middle & upper classes’ The connections, introductions and knowledge that they are able to impart in order to support their children to progress in the working world. Interestingly, TeachFirst uses the definition of a pupil who has at least one parent who underwent a university education as advantaged.
In order to level the playing field schools need to support their pupils to gain those connections that their parents may not be able to provide so insights into the working world that would otherwise be a mystery to our pupils. If they don’t know about it they can’t aspire to it being the backbone of this approach. In order to achieve this, as the Gatsby benchmarks point out, the only option is to ensure that all areas of the curriculum link what they teach to the working world. TeachFirst goes as far as to say that ALL middle leaders should have training to ensure that their subjects/departments can achieve this objective.
The old model of the careers leader simply cannot achieve this.
The teacher who gets a couple of frees to manage careers simply cannot do this. It is a much more complex and wide ranging role than it used to be. Look at the list of the tasks a careers leader is responsible for in schools that deliver good provision.
So what training is available?
TeachFirst of course have their own training programme which is well regarded but not accredited and only available to schools who .
The CDI Academy provide training courses which are accredited and available at strategic points throughout the country. One is starting in London in November, more to be announced I’m sure.
One day courses are a place to start, they don’t cover the breadth that is suggested in the TeachFirst report. However, they do provide a starting point for new careers leaders and SLT careers line managers. I deliver such a course for Osiris Educational, of course I’m sure others are available.
As for the apprenticeship route – I understand this is on the way. Watch this space.
My previous blog can be found here
TeachFirst report Impossible? Improving Careers Provision in Schools