Recommendations for DFE & CEC from the Ofsted thematic review published September 2023.
Wednesday 4th October 2023
This blog, the last in a series of 3, consists of my personal observations or comments about the recommendations made by Ofsted which are used as headings. Again schools refers to schools, FE & Skills providers. The links and recommendations I make in this blog do not benefit me financially.
The DfE should:
Consider ways in which it may be possible to improve how post-16 and post-18 destinations data is aggregated back to schools or FE and skills providers, including exploring whether data already held by the DfE could be used for this
One of the issues I hear time and again is how difficult and time consuming this is for schools. Often hampered by the sheer number of destinations that pupils move on to it would take hours to have more than 90% of destinations in any one year, yet alone to do it for 3 years after they leave. Just look at this resource from the CEC resources databank and you can see how long it takes and how organised you need to be
Another issue is GDPR which some organisations use in order to deflect requests for information from schools.
Years ago, there used to be something called the September Guarantee (yes I'm that old) which meant the local authority and/or Connexions collected this data for schools in their area. Sadly though with the demise of local authority schools and the advent of academies and free schools etc this service has disappeared and the workload has shifted to schools. So who could pick up the work and centralise it? Surely that would make sense economically? I should think that some of the large academy chains might be willing to do this but what about the smaller ones? Local authorities are already cutting services to the bone and would be unwilling to pick up another. The CEC? One of the big data companies that do a lot of Government work? Who knows but I'll watch carefully to see what happens.
Consider how to increase the attractiveness of the careers adviser role
Now this one I'm really behind. I'm not a careers adviser, I know my limitations and have been blessed to see some amazing work by careers advisers that has transformed lives for young people. They seem to be in the same boat as nurses in some ways i.e. they're a graduate profession and paid very little, but they are, unlike nurses, under appreciated. by society. How many stories have you heard about how somebody was sat down and told what they should aim to become when they leave school?
So there's a two pronged approach needed here. Firstly the salary for careers advisers (and leaders) in schools is often very low and needs to be adjusted for a post graduate qualified profession and secondly, there needs to be work on the public perception of the role of the careers adviser in the 21st century. Careers advisers these days are a mixture of psychologist, therapist and data analyst amongst other roles. The CDI is doing a lot of good work around this but it's hard to change such in ingrained public view which is perpetuated by oft repeated 'urban myths' about people's bad experiences. As a sector we need to do much more individually and collectively to dispel this view. So go join the CDI and get out there and show people just how wonderful good CEIAG can be. (Sorry I'll get off my soapbox now)
Review approaches to disseminating information about T levels to schools and employers.
Not sure how they intend the DFE to do this. The DFE has a huge media department and it already uses social and paid media to promote T levels. As yet, there seems to be little evidence to back up the efficacy of T Levels and I think people are waiting until they can see they are a viable alternative. Give it a few more years folks.
Make the aims for careers education for pupils in key stage 3 more explicit, including help with key stage 4 options
Did they have a look at the CDI framework for careers? That's all I've got to say on that matter.
Explore ways to improve data collection to get a more accurate picture of the number of careers advisers working in schools and FE and skills providers, and the number of children and young people accessing personal guidance with a suitably qualified adviser
I'm really behind this one. too many of our children are not getting the guidance they need. In some schools careers advisers only get one 20 minute interview per child. That's nowhere near enough. (40 minutes is the suggested minimum)
Most effective schools run a triage system where staff look at the cohort and break them down into areas of priority. The pupils get a better shot at getting their needs met this way. However, don't' forget, there are still plenty of schools with unqualified careers advisers or L4 advisers too. Oh how I wish that all schools were required to achieve the Quality in Careers Standard that requires the school to have an excellent careers programme AND a L6 qualified adviser.
The Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) should:
Consider how it can ensure that all schools and FE and skills providers (including those that are already in a careers hub) are aware of and able to fully engage with the support it provides
Shouldn't they be doing that anyway? I think the real issue here isn't so much that the CEC isn't engaging with schools, it's more about some schools not seeing CEIAG as a priority and thus not seeing the need. It's well documented that unless the SLT give visible support to careers that isn't often not seen as a priority in school.
Therefore, should there not be a section in the NPQH and come to that all NPQ qualifications, that deals with the value of CEIAG?
Consider how it can further support schools and FE and skills providers to work more closely with each other around careers
Currently this is almost entirely down to careers leaders to make the connections. True there are lots of Career Hub conferences and networking groups but often they are poorly attended. I speak at a lot of these and quite frequently there will be a number of careers leads who have been unable to get time off to attend. How about funding for cover to attend the conferences?
Use the findings from the review to shape future inspector training on careers guidance
What can I say? Watch this space.