Fund careers advisers directly to ease burden on colleges, DfE told

Leaving colleges to foot the bill is creating 'significant disparities' in careers provision, says committee

Leaving colleges to foot the bill is creating 'significant disparities' in careers provision, says committee

Ministers should trial direct funding of careers advisers amid fears asking schools and colleges to foot the bill is leading to “significant disparities” in provision, MPs have said.

Colleges should also be made to publish information on the amount of time that leaders in charge of careers provision are able to devote to their role, a report by the Parliamentary education committee recommended.

Although “many changes” to careers advice and guidance over the past decade mean the “right framework is broadly in place”, the report warned of a “lack of a clear overarching strategy and stated outcomes”.

While new legislation enforcing post-16 provider access to school pupils is “an important step in the right direction,” the committee said it was concerned that ministers did not have a system to monitor compliance. 

“Simply informing pupils of the options available is not enough to tackle the fundamental bias towards academic routes still seen in many schools” the report said.

Progress towards meeting the Gatsby Foundation’s eight benchmarks for good careers advice has been “slow”, with schools and colleges “only meeting just over half of them on average”.

This is based on self-reporting by colleges, which “means that we do not have a full picture of how many are being achieved”, the committee warned.

Since 2012, schools and colleges have been required to fund their own careers provision from their own budgets. 

Research by PWC for Gatsby in 2014 estimated that the cost of meeting all eight benchmarks would range from £38,000 to £76,000 per school and sixth form.

‘Significant disparities’

The report warned the expectation on schools and colleges to pay for services out of their “already stretched budgets” was “causing significant disparities in provision”, with some spending just £2 per student.

The DfE should therefore pilot a programme of funding careers advisers directly through the CEC, the report said, rather than “requiring schools and colleges to buy in this support from their existing budgets”.

Committee chair Robin Walker

The department should also make “one-off developmental funding available to schools and colleges who have the lowest record of achieving the Gatsby benchmarks”.

The report also found that careers leaders – those responsible for ensuring their colleges meet the benchmarks – are “struggling to fulfil their responsibilities effectively due to lack of time amid competing pressures”.

Support for careers provision should also be included in the package available to education investment areas.

Almost half have less than a day per week allocated to their role. The DfE should therefore update its statutory guidance to “suggest an appropriate proportion of time that careers leaders should be given to fulfil their role”.

They should also require schools and colleges to “publish information on the time they have allocated to the role on their website”, and ensure the CEC publishes data from schools and colleges about time leaders have to fulfil their role.

The report also makes a number of other recommendations, summarised as follows…

  • Ensure Ofsted looks at schools’ achievement of the benchmarks
  • Make reporting on progress against the benchmarks compulsory for schools and colleges
  • Extend coverage of careers hubs to all schools and colleges by the end of 2024
  • Make the National Careers Service appropriate for under-18s or provide an alternative
  • Consult on how to incorporate careers education into different levels of teacher training and development
  • Provide more teachers with “experience of modern workplaces across a range of sectors”
  • Consult on whether any administrative barriers to providing work experience can be removed or lightened
  • Create a ‘national platform’ for work experience placements
  • Track compliance against the Baker Clause and ensure ‘appropriate action’ is taken against non-compliance
  • Collect and publish data on the proportion of SENCOs who have undertaken careers training and set out steps to train them all

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Billy Camden

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