Colleges and schools can work together to provide the impartial advice and guidance that young people need to decide their futures, says Dawn Ward

A damning Education Select Committee report on the quality of careers guidance in schools recently prompted FE Week editor Nick Linford to issue a rallying call for colleges to up their game in promoting FE.

David Walrond, the principal of Truro and Penwith College, who addressed the committee, responded, explaining why he thought the emphasis should remain on improving the advice given by schools.

However at Burton and South Derbyshire College we take a different view – colleges and schools can work together to provide quality careers advice and guidance.

Colleges can work collaboratively with local schools to ensure that young people have access to the impartial advice and guidance that they need to decide their next steps.

It’s all about working in partnership to do the right thing for our young people.

Burton and South Derbyshire College has successfully created a co-operative relationship with local schools, ensuring that they see the college as a significant part of the education system.

We have worked together on a countywide Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) group, which includes organising careers events at external venues that allow school pupils to access advice and guidance from the college, sixth forms and a range of other organisations.

In addition to the countywide group, a member of the college’s senior leadership team chairs a South Derbyshire focused IAG group with secondary and private sector colleagues.

Burton and South Derbyshire College was also the first college in the UK to provide learners with Career Coach, a website that provides local employment information, advice and guidance, forming a link between college curriculum and occupational opportunities.

The tool has been developed in partnership with American-based Economic Modelling Specialists Inc to support local, regional and national economic development, ensuring that college learners are equipped with the vital skills that they need for today’s demanding workplace.

Career Coach ensures that learners are equipped with the vital skills that they need for today’s workplace”

Learners can use the system, which has received excellent feedback from IAG partners, throughout their college journey, from enquiry to exit interview

Career Coach allows young people to learn about the number of jobs available and salary ranges in their chosen industry, along with how their course relates to sectors and roles.

It also includes a CV builder, while a sector-based search function gives learners an insight into what employers are looking for.

The college is now rolling the system out to South Derbyshire schools to ensure that pupils aged under 16 can make informed decisions about their futures.

About half the schools have now taken up this offer.

I truly believe that schools and colleges can work together to create an open environment in which young people can access the full range of information available before they embark on their careers, choosing the route that is right for them.

At Burton and South Derbyshire College, we are achieving our vision of effective partnership in an IAG and are encouraging colleges to share best practice in providing innovative and effective careers advice alongside schools.

Dawn Ward OBE, chief executive and principal of Burton and South Derbyshire College