Careers Guidance: the context in England

Update January 2018: The Department for Education has published new statutory guidance for schools on careers guidance and access for education and training providers. It sets out what schools need to do to meet the eight Gatsby Benchmarks and provides guidance which underpins the new duty.

Following the Education Act, 2011 the statutory duty to ensure that young people (under 19) in England have access to careers guidance support was changed.

Prior to the 2011 Act the duty was placed upon the Secretary of State to ensure that a 'careers service' was provided for young people. That careers service was provided from 1974-1994 by Local Education Authorities; from 1994-2001 by contracted careers companies/providers under contract to the Secretary of State; and from 2001-2012 by Connexions Partnerships/Local Authority Connexions Services as part of their wider youth support service functions.

The Education Act, 2011 placed the duty to 'secure access to independent careers guidance' for their pupils and students upon schools (from September 2012 for pupils aged 14 to age 16), and then from September 2013 upon schools for pupils aged 13-18 and upon FE Colleges and Sixth Form Colleges for students aged 16-18.

The 2011 Act defines 'independent' in this way:

"Careers guidance provided to pupils at a school is independent for the purposes of this section if it is provided other than by:

  • (A) A Teacher Employed Or Engaged At The School
  • (B) Any Other Person Employed At The School

The Act therefore requires Schools to be commissioners of careers guidance not providers of it (that's not to say they will not provide some of it, but the new statutory duty is to secure external careers guidance in addition to whatever a school provides internally). It is worth reminding ourselves what the OECD definition of 'careers guidance' covers, as this is referred to by the Department for Education in its guidance on what the statutory duty includes:

"Career guidance refers to services and activities intended to assist individuals, of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers.

The activities may take place on an individual or group basis, and may be face-to-face or at a distance (including help lines and web-based services)."
(OECD, 2004)

The House of Commons Education Select Committee, in January 2013, recommended that all schools should be required to work towards a nationally validated and dedicated CEIAG Award. Whilst Careers England and the Quality in Careers Consortium have continued to advocate that this recommendation from the Select Committee should be implemented by the Department for Education, we have welcomed the April 2017 revision to the DfE Statutory Guidance for schools which recommends that schools should work towards the Quality in Careers Standard which is now the single national CEIAG quality award.

With over 1100 schools and colleges voluntarily working towards or holding the Quality in Careers Standard already, we commend, to every Head Teacher/College Principal and school/college governing body, our belief that the statutory duty on schools and colleges to secure independent careers guidance for pupils and students will be most effective when these three elements coexist in a school or college:

  • Its overall CEIAG programme is quality assured against the Quality in Careers Standard
  • The school/college builds upon its internal programme by securing specialist careers advice and guidance services from an external provider, close to the labour market and therefore able to assist young people to make informed choices; such a provider should meet the accepted 'industry standard' for advice and guidance on learning and work, the 'matrix Standard'.
  • The externally secured provider of careers guidance should employ professional careers advisers who are occupationally competent to professional standards as determined by the Career Development Institute".

The DfE's revised Statutory Guidance (April 2017) to schools ( recommends that schools should work towards the Quality in Careers Standard as the national CEIAG quality award and commends the three-pronged approach we advocate above.

Below we provide the links to the GOV.UK website and the April 2017 revised Statutory Guidance for Schools, as well as the revised Statutory Guidance for Colleges:

The DfE revised STATUTORY GUIDANCE (April 2017)

Recommends Schools to achieve the Quality in Careers Standard as the national CEIAG quality award:

The revised (April 2017) Statutory Guidance To Schools on their Careers Guidance duty includes in Paragraph 67 the following which is in effect the 3 pronged approach we first proposed in 2011 and has been consistently advocated by the Quality in Careers Consortium, the CDI and Careers England most explicitly.

Below is an extract below from the latest DfE Statutory Guidance which says:

Paragraph 67. In developing careers provision for pupils, there are currently three aspects of quality assurance that schools should take into consideration:

  • The quality of the school careers programme. The Government recommends that all schools should work towards the national quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance as an effective means of carrying out a self-review and external evaluation of the school’s programme - this is the Quality in Careers Standard.
  • The quality of independent careers providers. The recognised national quality standard for information, advice and guidance (IAG) services is the matrix Standard. To achieve the Standard, organisations will need to demonstrate that they provide a high quality and impartial service. Schools can access an online register of organisations accredited to the matrix Standard.
  • The quality of careers professionals working with the school. The Career Development Institute has developed a set of professional standards for careers advisers, a register of advisers holding postgraduate qualifications and guidelines on how advisers can develop their own skills and gain higher qualifications. The main qualifications for careers professionals are the Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG) and the Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development. Schools can view a register of careers professionals or search for a career development professional who can deliver a particular service or activity.”

To help schools and colleges, the Quality in Careers website provides a section hosting a series of Case Studies which schools and colleges have agreed should be made accessible as a means of showing how some of the good schools and colleges in the country are responding to their duty to 'secure access to independent careers guidance' for their pupils and students.

As part of the Career Development Institute's response to the (then 2014) revised Statutory Guidance in England, the CDI commissioned David Andrews to write a best practice and commissioning guide to be targeted at Heads of Careers and senior teachers in secondary schools in England.

Whilst the April 2017 revision to the Statutory Guidance is certainly welcomed as it significantly strengthens the recommendations from DfE to schools on quality assurance of CEIAG, we continue to commend the CDI best practice guide to schools and colleges, and we are pleased to provide a copy of this Guide here.

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