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Careers Advice in school

What should the school provide?

The government has placed a duty on schools to provide careers guidance. The duty requires school governing bodies to ensure that all pupils at their school are provided with independent careers guidance from Year 8 (12-13 year olds) to Year 13 (17-18 year olds).

The Department for Education says in ‘Careers guidance and inspiration in schools’, that this advice must;

  • Be presented in an impartial way
  • Include information on the full range of education or training options post Year 11, including Apprenticeships and other vocational pathways and
  • Promote the best interests of the pupil to whom it is given.

What does this mean in practice?

The Department for Education have outlined the key features of good careers advice and guidance. These are that:

  • High expectations should be set for all pupils, regardless of their additional educational needs, so that they are stretched and acquire the attributes that employers value.
  • Schools should have a strategy for the advice and guidance they provide and it should be an integral part of everyday life at the school and clearly linked to outcomes for pupils rather than an ad-hoc set of activities.
  • Schools should provide access to a range of activities that inspire pupils such as employer visits or talks, access to coaches and mentors, careers fairs, motivational speakers, college and university visits. The activities should give a sense of what pupils can achieve and help them understand how to make this a reality.
  • Online careers tools can be used to offer imaginative and engaging ways to encourage pupils to think about the opportunities available to them. However, website access is not sufficient in itself to meet the statutory duty.
  • Careers teachers in schools can give advice and guidance, but to meet the school’s legal requirements it must be combined with advice and guidance from independent and external sources.
  • The guidance provided must avoid all forms of stereotyping, to ensure that pupils from all backgrounds and diversity groups consider the widest possible range of careers, including those that are often portrayed as primarily for one or other of the sexes.

How can I tell if my child is getting quality advice?

If the school that your son or daughter attends provides guidance that includes the key features in the above section and your child is happy with the advice that they have been given, then the signs are good.

But you could also look at the school’s Ofsted inspection or Destination Measures Data for more formal information.

Along with specific questions about your son or daughter’s options based on their individual strengths and personality, there are other questions you can ask the school to check that they are supporting your child with good careers advice and guidance:

  • What attributes do employers value and how will you ensure that my son/daughter acquires these attributes?
  • What opportunities will my son/daughter have to link with local employers, or business mentors and coaches?
  • Will the options chosen stretch my son/daughter to the full extent of his/her ability?
  • What range of activities will be provided to inspire my son/daughter? Will there be employer talks, careers fairs, motivational speakers, college and university visits?
  • What support can my son/daughter expect with regard to careers advice? Remember that online tools are great, but are not enough to meet a school’s statutory duty around careers advice and guidance.
  • Who is coming into the school to provide independent careers advice?
  • What is in place to make sure that my son/daughter is given the information they need to consider the widest possible range of careers, including those that are often portrayed as primarily for one or other of the sexes?

Ofsted inspections

Ofsted has given careers guidance a higher priority in school inspections since September 2013, by taking into account how well the school delivers advice and guidance to all pupils.

This is included in the judgement of a school’s leadership and management.

Destination Measures Data

Schools can measure the effectiveness of careers and inspiration activity by collecting information on both the attainment (exam results) and the destinations of their pupils.

They can use this information to ensure that all pupils receive the support needed to prepare for and take up education, employment or training which offers good long term prospects.

Successful careers advice will be reflected in higher numbers of young people progressing to Apprenticeships, Universities – including Selective Universities, Traineeships, and other positive destinations such as employment or a further education college.

Destination Measures Data, published by the Department for Education, will show how successfully pupils move into the next stage of education, training, or into employment.

So if you’re interested in the performance of your school in this area – ask them. Alternatively, the data is available for you to look at yourself.

You can view the Destination Measures Data online and there are guidelines to help you understand what the data is saying.

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