Statutory Duty

Updated Skills Bill Impact Assessment

Updated Skills Bill Impact Assessment

Monday 1st November 2021

Most days I sit at my laptop and check through various RSS feeds and newsletters to keep abreast of what is happening in the world of careers. I usually groan and start to sob quietly to myself when I see another 200+ page DFE missive. However, in the interests of keeping myself and the mad bunch of people that follow me to keep ahead of what is going on, I plod on and at least skim read most relevant material.

So imagine my delight (read this in irony font) when I saw The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill: impact assessment and JCHR memorandum. Yep lovely, so I dug in and had a skim. Most of it wasn't relevant to schools directly but chapter 10 was, so I printed it out and settled down for an in depth read.

A rather tasty falafel salad wrap and a highlighter accompanied my perusal of the pages of Chapter 10 - Careers information. Here are my thoughts and comments remember these are my judgements as an experienced careers professional and reflect what I would be trying to do if I were a current careers leader.

Why are the government so keen on implementing the Baker Clause?

The government has considered leaving the Baker Clause as it is and doing nothing but came to the conclusion that as careers information helps students choose their pathways and improves their productivity and contributes to a successful economy they couldn't leave it untouched.

Despite the Baker Clause being a legal requirement it found that only 37% of schools achieve the meaningful encounters with providers Gatsby Benchmark and that 70% of FE providers said that they were finding it difficult to gain access to schools and only 30% said the situation was improving.

Further problems identified that schools were 'not following the spirit in which the law was intended' For example, handpicking students so that not all students get the information or limiting time.

How do the government intend to strengthen the Baker Clause?

1. By creating a more specific set of minimum legal requirements for provide access to students. by specifying who is to be given access to which pupils and when.
2. Taking tougher formal action against schools not complying
3. Making government funded careers support for schools condition on compliance with the Baker Clause.

The government intends to ensure that every student meets providers and will set out a new minimum legal requirement around duration and expectations of content. This will be in a forthcoming update of the statutory guidance, along with examples of good practice.

From reading the entire document it appears that the key figure schools need to start planning for is a one hour session in each of the main key stages.

What will be the impact on schools?

Firstly the impact will be directly in line with how far down the road to full compliance the school is. Those who already fully comply won't have anything to do apart from check updates. Those who do nothing will have lots to do. So let's take a median school that has a Baker Clause policy and is going some way towards meeting the requirements.

  • The poor overworked careers leader will need to familiarise themselves with the new requirements. Ahhh you're already reading this, therefore you've only got to ensure that SLT and governors are aware of the need to comply and act accordingly.
  • Schools will need to decide how they will respond. Some will add sessions in the timetable, others may absorb the time impact by replacing assemblies/drop down day sessions or tutor time. Either way the key message from the DFE is that impact on attainment is going to be negligible as we are only talking about one session per key stage. (If SLT want the DFE line on this point them in the direction of section 630 on page 200 of the report.)
  • Providers will have to ensure that the major objectives of an encounter are met, this will need planning with the provider to ensure that every encounter includes

1. Information about the qualifications the provider offers
2. The career routes these qualifications lead to
3. Provide insight on what it might be like to learn or train with the provider
4. Answer student questions.

  • Keep a look out for the updated statutory guidance which will be published the term before the new legislation comes into place.

How will the government police this?

We already know that Ofsted are now asking searching questions about careers learning in schools and will downgrade schools not meeting the existing legislation. This is likely to become more nuanced over time as Ofsted is planning a thematic survey of careers over the coming terms. Part of this will mean speaking to pupils, therefore it's vital the career learning is explicit rather than implicit so that students can make the connection.

  • There will be a simplified complaints procedure for providers to let the DFE know of schools who are not complying.
  • Compass+ data will be monitored
  • Feedback from Association of Employment & Learning Providers (AELP) and Association of Colleges (AoC)

I think that just about covers everything but if you want to check out the actual document you will be able to find it here