Careers education, Skills reform

Beefed up Baker clause comes into force

Schools must now provide students with at least six 'encounters' with FE providers

Schools must now provide students with at least six 'encounters' with FE providers

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Secondary schools must provide students with at least six “encounters” with further education providers from this month, following a change in the law.

Legislation was changed on January 1 to provide pupils with more exposure to technical education opportunities in a move to beef up the so-called “Baker clause” introduced in 2018, with a warning that schools that fail to adhere to the new rules face a legal direction from government.

Secondary schools now have a legal duty to provide pupils with “at least six encounters with a provider of approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships”.

The new law states that two of these must be in the “first key phase” of school – to take place any time during year 8 or between September 1 and February 28 in year 9. Another two encounters must then be in the “second key phase” – to take place any time during year 10 or between September 1 and February 28 in year 11.

A further two must be offered in years 12 or 13. However, unlike the earlier encounters, sixth formers will not have to attend by law.

The change follows criticism of the lack of enforcement of previous rules, with a 2019 study by the Institute for Public Policy Research finding that two-thirds of secondary schools were still flouting the Baker clause a year after it was introduced.

The DfE consulted on the changes to statutory guidance last summer but has only just published its response and the updated guidance document, despite the law coming into effect four days ago.

Schools that fail to meet the new requirements will be subject to a “ladder of support and intervention”, with a legal direction serving as the most severe form of punishment.

Schools may also lose out on government careers funding if they are non-compliant, the guidance states.

The DfE also announced today that primary school teachers in deprived areas of England will receive training to deliver careers education programmes under a new £2.6 million scheme.

Skills minister Robert Halfon said: “To deliver the future workforce that this country needs, it is essential that careers advice and work experience help young people from all backgrounds to climb the ladder of opportunity.

“The changes we are making to boost our careers programme will raise ambitions from an early age for thousands of children in primary schools across the country, while providing opportunities to unlock talent, think about skills, engage with employers and discover different workplaces.”

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