I Proudly State I’m an Enemy of Promise – As Gove Sees It.

“the new Enemies of Promise are a set of politically motivated individuals who have been actively trying to prevent millions of our poorest children getting the education they need” Michael Gove 2013.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It would appear to me that Gove’s measure of success is gaining a nice little clutch of GCSE’s, then A Levels, all suitably rigourous of course, then going to a Russell Group university and getting a first class degree.  Along the way some jolly nice chaps from the local businesses’ will pop into school and regale you with stories of how they now have 3 hour lunches and earn substantial amounts of money whilst poorly paid, or even unpaid, interns run around and do the hard work.

If that is indeed his vision, then I, am an enemy of promise, albeit non politcally motivated.  Here is my apolitical manifesto for 2014.

I’m going to start the year as I mean to go on.  This is going to be an outstanding year for careers education in the UK.  I’m determined that it will be.  I want to set out my goals for the year. Before I start, let me just reassure you I’m not against the standard route though to university, in fact I nearly stood up and cheered when I read the last paragraph of Judeenright’s blog about the subject  a few days ago.  In fact it was the inspiration for this piece, albeit slightly at odds with some of her thinking. However, we can both  agree that Oxbridge should be highlighted for those that can and want to.  I just want the brief expanded…

@CareersDefender’s aims for an Outstanding year for careers education in 2014

To educate as many teachers as possible to understand the following:-

  • That careers education IS part of their job and they need to have some degree of knowledge or at least be able to say, that’s not my area but I can point you to somebody who can help.
  • That going to a Russel Group university isn’t the be all and end all of  every child’s educational journey
  • That it is indeed possible to go via an apprenticeship on to university if you desire.
  • That it is a teacher’s duty to prepare their pupils for the world with the knowledge that if they’ve not got the wherewithall, or indeed wish, to do the Govian route then they’re not a failure, they just need an alternative route to THEIR success.  Be that traineeships, apprenticeships, work based training etc. (Oh yes and owning up to the fact that they, the teacher, may not know much about these routes)
  • That teachers need to be more on board with preparing their pupils for the reality of the 21C job market and to do that, they need to start by realising the points above.

OK I can see some of my readers jumping up and down and shouting hooray and others looking puzzled or worried.

Gove is vocal about his distrust of ‘careers people’ and vociferous in his demand for accountablity and rigour.  He has actively stated his belief that careers advisors are superflous and that children only need to meet up with a few friendly employers to set them on their way.  So the policies that Gove has put in place mean that our pupils are left wandering the maze of their future plans and goals, often rudderless and frequently misguided.

One only has to look at the figures from the Pearson press release of June 2013 to see that pupils rely heavily on teachers and parents to source careers ideas.Outstanding Careers Pearson Numbers Ofsted Outstanding

Well in that case, don’t you, the teacher, the parent have a duty to be impartial?  How can we do that when our SLT are banning other 6th form and college prospectuses from the school library!  How can parents do that when they often don’t have any knowledge of working lives other than their own!  In fact even the poorly drafted statutory guidance for careers  published over a year ago and updated last March,  stated quite clearly

“From September 2012, the Education Act 2011 placed schools under a duty to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance for their pupils in years 9-11. The Careers Guidance in Schools Regulations 2013 will extend the age range to which the duty applies. From September 2013, the duty will be extended to include all registered pupils in year 8 (12-13 year olds) and years 12 and 13 (16-18 year olds). This change will allow young people to access information and advice at more key transition points:”

I have underlined independent and impartial.  For most headteachers, that is the most relevant point.  How can you be impartial if you are herding young people into your 6th form, or limiting their information so they don’t find out about other options apart from university.

So, my call to all schools in the UK is to watch out for the new statutory guidance for careers education that we are expecting to be published this month.  Read it, work out what it means for your school.  Then appoint somebody to oversee it for you and furnish them with the support they need to get the offer right for your school and your pupils.  If you’re not in a position to do that, bring it to the person’s attention and bang on about the importance for the school Destination Data until they listen.

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