The government has announced an action plan to tackle poor careers advice after Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw attacked schools saying “too few are doing enough” on the service.

He hit out with the education watchdog’s much-awaited report — Going in the right direction? Careers guidance in schools from September 2012 — offering a damning commentary on careers guidance in schools.

The report showed that 75 per cent of the 60 schools visited were not implementing their duty to provide impartial careers advice.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said schools, which have been responsible for providing their 14 to 16-year-olds with careers guidance since 2012, would in future be issued with clearer advice on their responsibilities.

He said he also wanted more employers involved in response to the Ofsted report and also a report this year by the National Careers Council which called for a “culture change” in careers guidance.

“I want all schools to do as the best do — inspiring young people, providing work experience and putting them in touch with employers,” said Mr Hancock.
The National Careers Service is also set to “be improved to give young people a greater understanding of the full range of options available to them”.

The Ofsted report came out on September 10 — the day after Sir Michael praised schools for “radical advances” in inspections.

He said: “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.”
The criticism comes nine months after the Education Select Committee warned of a “deterioration” in schools’ careers guidance.

Committee chair said Graham Stuart said: “This [Ofsted] report makes an irresistible case for change and I very much hope ministers are listening.”

Tristram Hunt, Labour’s Junior Shadow Education Minister, said: “The government’s reforms have brutally undermined careers services for 14 to 16-year-olds.

“This is a matter of social justice and economic competitiveness — young people need the support to make the right choices and the youth unemployment rates are a sad testament to that.”

Association of Colleges president Michele Sutton said: “We are letting young people down if we don’t provide them with absolute clarity on the full range of providers, including sixth form colleges and colleges, and to the widest range of options open to them, which includes further and higher education, traineeships and apprenticeships.”

Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said: “The Ofsted report should lead to schools and colleges being more transparent in terms of the careers advice offered and more welcoming to input from training providers and employers.”

David Igoe, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association, said his members “rely on local schools providing information and guidance on all the opportunities available and … too often we felt that this statutory duty was neglected or just blatantly ignored.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, wanted “high-quality, face-to-face guidance provided by qualified professionals is available in all parts of the country”.

David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, said employers should have a role in schools’ careers guidance.

“Including employers … will go some way to inspiring those wanting to take a more vocational route,” he said.

Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group, suggested colleges step in to help schools, because they “offer excellent advice and guidance services”.

Meanwhile, Karen O’Donoghue, president of the Career Development Institute, called for guidance to be delivered by Qualifications and Credit Framework level six-registered professionals.

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