Social Mobility & Social Justice

Mentors and £70m - Will this fix careers education? Part 2

Mentors and £70m - Will this fix careers education? Part 2

Thursday 14th January 2016

Yesterday I looked at the role of mentors in careers education following the announcement from David Cameron that the CEC company would be overseeing a programme of mentoring for potential NEETs

Today, I look towards the second area that I feel this announcement pushes into the spotlight

How this £70m will affect the efficacy of careers education in England.

I believe that this £70m includes the £20m earmarked for the CEC so that leaves us with £50m which, so far, we've no idea about. The government obviously has an idea of how it's going to be spent. We, the wider public, do not.

The fact that money is needed to help grow careers education can surely attract little dissent. £200m was pocketed by the Government during the dissolution of Connexions. Nobody would say Connexions was perfect, in fact I'd go so far as to say there has never been a golden age of careers education. However, what we have now is a 'perfect storm' of limited opportunities, poor social mobility, spiralling social and economic issues all manifesting themselves in problems with NEETs and unemployment.

Careers education has been a seedling for quite some time. Growing from a half hour interview and a bit of work experience into the vast amorphous mass that we have now of interested bodies, initiatives, courses, and conflicts. The current situation with schools being given responsibility for careers education but no money, has led to widely reported patchy delivery with some getting excellent provision and others nothing at all. A current example of one of the effects of this situation can be seen in yesterday's Huffington Post article about students dropping out of university in their first year.

So what could the government do to help improved careers education?

The hints have been dropping since last November, Sam Gyimah has been speaking about an announcement in the spring. I noted that he keeps using the term careers education rather than inspiration that the previous administration had favoured. This I find encouraging. it speaks to me of a more holistic approach. Having said that, there is still an overarching reliance on employer engagement as evidenced by the prominence of the CEC's position. I thought it might be fun to look at what the remaining £50m might be used for.

£50m divided by 3,381 (The number of state run secondary schools in England in January of 2015 (figures taken from here) Gives a sum of a tad under £15,000 per school. Now wouldn't that be fun to deal with? However, I'm pretty sure that that is not what is going to happen. So what do I think will happen? Obviously I don't know, some of these ideas may just be pipe dreams.

Strengthening Statutory Duty for Careers

The last few statutory duties for careers have been more specific than the original, it's your job get on with it instructions in 2012. We now have a few more "musts" in relation to the many 'should' that pepper the document. Careers is a very individualistic topic and the needs of school an urban area will differ wildly from those in a rural area and so on. So the statutory duty can't be as specific as the English Language curriculum. However, it could 'beef up' the statutory duty with a checklist of activities which are recommended, or a few more 'musts'

Providing funding for training for middle and senior leaders who manage careers.

I won't go on about my favourite analogy for explaining the role of Senior Leadership Teams being in charge of careers (Dentists doing appendectomies if you're not a regular reader) However, if funding were provided for SLT to attend training in how to line manage careers and what to expect, that would be a great step forward.

Again, with Middle Leaders, many are teachers who know little about the complexities of careers. They have the teaching knowledge but don't have the intricacies of careers learning and it's specific pedagogy,neither do most have the intricate knowledge of career pathways that careers advisers have. Some careers leaders are careers advisers who have a great deal of knowledge to bring to the role in the form of careers pathways but need some support with the teaching aspect. Some careers leaders are administrators who need support on both teaching and advising roles.

Providing QICS funding for all schools

WARNING I'M BIASED THIS IS WHAT I'D LIKE TO SEE The Quality in Careers Consortium is the overarching organisation that validates the Quality in Careers Standard - A quality award that is a fantastic driver of improvement. It's not something that you apply for once you've got a fantastic careers programme. It's a system that allows your school to develop and validate the provision your individual institution needs. Alternatively we could see QICS moving from recommended as it was in the last statutory duty to required. I don't think this is likely, but we could see a strengthening of status, say publishing a list of schools with QICS.

Strengthen Ofsted Role

Anecdotally, we're seeing Ofsted far more interested in careers. I've heard of inspectors asking specifically to meet with the SLT and MLT in charge of careers in addition to speaking to staff and students about careers learning. I've also heard of heads being told they would have received outstanding overall if their careers programme had been better. Maybe some of the money would be put into further training for Ofsted staff.

Careers Advisers for every school

Could some of that money be earmarked for the provision of qualified careers staff for every school? It's doubtful given the Government's liking for employer engagement. but it is possible.

So what would you like to see? Why not post a comment or a guesss?

Title photo courtesy of James Morrisonon Flikr