Careers Guidance: the context in England
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 available in all parts of England for all young people (primarily aged 13-18). The 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 2011 Act placed the duty to ‘secure access to independent careers guidance’ for their pupils and students upon schools. It required this:
- from September 2012 for schools with pupils aged 14 to age 16;
- from September 2013 for schools for pupils aged 13-18 as well as for FE Colleges and Sixth Form Colleges for students aged 16-18.
The 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 their statutory duty is to secure external careers guidance in addition to whatever a school provides internally).
It’s 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 helplines and web-based services).”
The Statutory Guidance (October 2018) from the Department for Education to schools on fulfilling their statutory duty builds heavily upon the Gatsby Benchmarks for “Good Careers Guidance”.
The Guidance “strongly recommends” all secondary schools to work towards and achieve the national Quality in Careers Standard. Paragraph 22 in the Statutory Guidance states:
- Schools can gain formal accreditation of their careers programme through the Quality in Careers Standard – the national quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance. The Standard offers an opportunity for schools to undergo an external evaluation of their careers programme and so is distinct from the Compass self-assessment. The Standard has been aligned to the Gatsby Benchmarks and incorporates Compass into its processes, so those schools achieving the Standard meet all eight Benchmarks. We strongly recommend that all schools work towards the updated Quality in Careers Standard, incorporating Compass, to support the development of their careers programme.
You can read more about how the national assessment criteria fully incorporate the Gatsby Benchmarks and the Compass self-assessment tool in the Quality in Careers Consortium’s Guide to the Standard.
Over 1100 schools and colleges are already voluntarily working towards or hold the Quality in Careers Standard.
Alongside our partners in the Quality in Careers Consortium, 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.
We’ve consistently advocated this three-pronged approach to assure the quality of CEIAG for every young person in England incorporating accreditation under the Quality in Careers Standard.