The number of young people employed as apprentices in England is “a disaster” and Ofsted inspectors will be ensuring schools are promoting “all the options” to learners, chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has told MPs.

Sir Michael appeared in front of the new education select committee on Wednesday (September 16), where he faced questions about the role of Ofsted.

Quizzed by MPs about the importance of destination data for both schools and colleges, Sir Michael said an “important” line of questioning for school head teachers would be about post-16 options and careers advice.

He said: “What’s really important for inspections of secondary schools is that HMI ask questions about post-16 provision, whether schools and head teachers of secondary schools are providing youngsters with all the information that they need to make good choices and not restricting that information to get youngsters into their own sixth form.”

“That’s really important and that’s going to be a big emphasis this year. We are going to be asking a lot more about careers guidance than ever before,” he added.

Sir Michael said: “The fact we’ve only got six per cent of youngsters going into apprenticeships is a disaster, and it’s really important that schools are fair on their youngsters and make sure that all the options are put to them.

“It’s a disaster area in schools. It hasn’t been focused-on in the way that it should. It should never be seen as a bolt-on or an

Sir Michael was joined by Ofsted’s chief operating officer Matthew Coffey, who said that Ofsted had been pushing for better use of destination data.

He said: “We’ve said for a long time how important destination data is, particularly at the end of key stage four and key stage five, in FE colleges, for example. It’s really important that colleges understand the impact of what they’re doing on a young person’s later development.

“So we have maintained this call for several years and the government is absolutely responding, to be able to develop measures that are going to be publicly available to add to the public accountability framework.”

He added that many good providers track destinations themselves, adding that “in fact a lot of FE colleges spend a lot of their resources for very good reasons, to understand the impact of the different courses and how they can improve further”.


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  1. This is no surprise to anyone in the apprenticeship sector.
    We warned government that schools giving sole independent advice and guidance would result in more going to 6th form as the money follows the learner and schools are businesses at the end of the day! Then came the raising of the participation aim, and again the message has not been clearly communicated to parents with many thinking they just have to stay on at school or college until 18… With the additional golden nugget from the government to introduce mandatory cash contributions from employers for the trailblazer apprenticeships (as well as paying a higher apprenticeship wage and now pension contributions for other staff)
    Is it any wonder that over the last 2 years the figures continue to fall – No surprise to anyone who has some basic common sense – the government should try it!

  2. Nelly Bates

    The only way young people will ever get decent Advice and Guidance from schools is if it is made compulsory by government and if it becomes and Limiting Grade in Ofsted. If anyone thinks it will change any other way then dream on.
    It’s not that schools are necessarily misleading their 16 and 17 year olds, it’s more that they are not making it clear that students are at liberty to leave when they’re 16 and go elsewhere. It’s not just about Destination Data, it’s about giving students the information that they are entitled to.

  3. Everyone with an IQ greater than a chair leg warned OfSTED that their indifference towards inspecting IAG/ Careers advice in schools would lead to disaster and lo it came to pass. Wilshaw should be hanging his head in shame as he steadfastly ignored all the advice he was given. The outcome is a direct consequence of his and the DFE’s arrogance and stupidity.

  4. Graham HoyleOBE

    Ofsted may indeed have come late to this position (argued for by many for years), but let us be positive about their belated ‘Damascus moment.’ Given the influence the Chief Inspector has, his views are much more likely to be taken account of then mine ever were! A positive step in the right direction.

  5. Good to hear OFSTED speaking out forcefully about this. The destinations data topic is a minefield. A school has a thriving sixth form and nearly everyone goes to university. Yippee – job done. Hang on, how many are dropping out of degree courses?