Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw has attacked schools over their record on providing careers guidance saying “too few are doing enough”.
He hit out today with publication of the education watchdog’s much-awaited report — Going in the right direction? Careers guidance in schools from September 2012 .
It gives a damning commentary on careers guidance in schools and comes a year after they were made responsible for delivering the service.
The report shows that 75 per cent of the schools visited were not implementing their duty to provide impartial careers advice effectively.
“Many students in the schools with weaker provision had had little information or guidance about how to start taking responsibility for the careers that lay ahead of them,” it says.
“Inspectors found that about three quarters of the schools visited had not identified a comprehensive strategy or purpose for careers guidance.
“A strategic overview and coordination were lacking; provision often comprised activities that had been in place for some time and had not been evaluated or reviewed.”
It also says the National Careers Service was not promoted well enough and there was a lack of employer engagement in schools.
Sir Michael said: “It is vitally important that young people have access to information on the full range of career pathways available so they can make informed choices about their next steps.
“Our findings show that too few schools are doing enough to ensure all their students receive comprehensive advice about the breadth of career opportunities available to them.
“It is worrying that the new arrangements are failing to provide good guidance or to promote vocational training options and apprenticeships.”
The report, which comes a day after Sir Michael praised schools for “genuine and radical advances” on inspections, examines careers advice in schools since September 2012 — when they were given the legal responsibility for service for 14 to 16-year-olds.
It was commissioned by the Department for Education and looks at the extent to which young people in the age range were getting impartial careers advice.
Few of the 60 schools visited for the survey had bought in adequate service from external sources, it says in the report.
It further criticises schools for not working well enough with employers to provide students with direct experience of the world of work.
Vocational training and apprenticeships were rarely promoted effectively, especially in schools with sixth forms, the report says.
Instead, the A-level route remained the ‘gold-standard’ for young people, their parents and teachers.
Few schools were promoting the National Careers Service, the body responsible for providing independent and impartial careers advice to young people from the age of 13.
Its telephone service and website were also rarely promoted and therefore significantly underused.
Nearly all of the students interviewed who were aware of the website told inspectors that it offered nothing different from other similar sites and the large majority felt it was mostly aimed towards older students and adults.
The report goes on to make a number of recommendations to the government, schools, local authorities, National Careers Service as well as for Ofsted itself.
“Given the high levels of youth unemployment, even among graduates, it is important the government, schools, local authorities and other agencies all work to improve the quality of careers advice in schools,” said Sir Michael.
The report calls on the government to provide more explicit guidance to schools on careers advice and to monitor students’ progress and achievement when they leave school through accurate collection of destination data.
The National Careers Service is also told to market its services more effectively to all young people aged 13 to 18 and do more to disseminate information on national skills shortages so that young people gain a greater understanding of where there are likely to be greater employment opportunities.
Ofsted also recommends that its own inspectors take greater account of careers guidance and students’ destinations when conducting future school inspections.
Schools were visited for the report over the course of five months from December.
For government and FE sector reaction to the Ofsted report into careers guidance see our next edition