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Careers guidance and inspiration in schools (March 2015)

The DfE has updated its guidance to schools on the stautory careers guidance duty just before the government goes into purdah!

The first thing you’ll notice about the updated guidance is that the DfE is no longer afraid to talk about ‘careers guidance’ – it is freely used throughout the document in place of ‘advice and guidance’.

The second thing you’ll notice is that the Department has distanced itself from Matthew Hancock and Michael Gove. Careers and inspiration is still part of the language but now under Nicky Morgan it is joined by ‘character’, ‘enterprise’ and 'employability'.

The Department states that this latest version of the guidance contains only minor updates. This is largely accurate in the sense that most of the paragraphs from the April 2014 version remain in place even if the numbering has changed; but in every respect, where there is a change, there is a significant strengthening of the guidance. You will not be surprised that there is no new money on the table other than the funding for the Careers and Enterprise Company which still hasn’t launched; but if additional funding was never going to be on offer, why couldn’t we have had this strong and clear guidance for schools and colleges back in 2011?

What are the key differences between the 2014 and 2015 guidance?

  • Paras 7 & 8 in the new guidance assert the value of improved careers guidance in preparing young people for employment and employability
  • Para 10 emphasises the need for schools to have a strategy for careers guidance. The points that were tucked away in the guidance for governors (paragraph 17 in the 2014 guidance) are now highlighted for school and college senior leadership. Saying that schools and colleges should have an annual plan for careers is still a bridge too far for the Department but they’ve come as close to saying it as they dare!
  • Paras 33-36 explain the role of the new Careers and Enterprise Company; but the assertion that it will ‘transform careers and enterprise provision for young people’ has still to be tested.
  • Para 40 emphasises that schools with post-16 pupils should pay attention to the new study programmes
  • Para 42 mentions the new post-16 opportunities database that should be up-and-running by October 2015. If you missed that announcement, go to
  • Paras 61-64 significantly strengthen the guidance to schools on ensuring adequate support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. This is a big area of change with many concerns about where funding responsibilities lie but raising its profile is welcome. Hopefully, in future iterations of the guidance, we will see greater attention paid to the needs of the gifted and talented, young carers, looked after children and young people with mental health difficulties
  • Paragraph 67 on quality assurance and feedback is the most significant revision in the guidance. It recommends that all schools should work towards a quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance. Here it is in full:

67. In developing careers provision for pupils, there are currently three aspects of quality assurance that schools should take into consideration:
• The quality of the school careers programme. The Government recommends that all schools should work towards a quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance as an effective means of carrying out a self-review and evaluation of the school’s programme. The national validation, the Quality in Careers Standard, will assist schools to determine an appropriate quality award to pursue. There are currently twelve quality awards that are recognised as meeting the Quality in Careers Standard.
• The quality of independent careers providers.The recognised national quality standard for information, advice and guidance (IAG) services is the matrix Standard. To achieve the Standard, organisations will need to demonstrate that they provide a high quality and impartial service. Schools can access an online register of organisations accredited to the matrix Standard.
• The quality of careers professionals working with the school. The Career Development Institute has developed a set of professional standards for careers advisers, a register of advisers holding postgraduate qualifications and guidelines on how advisers can develop their own skills and gain higher qualifications. The main qualifications for careers professionals are the Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG) (which replaced the earlier Diploma in Careers Guidance) and the Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development. Schools can view a register of careers professionals or search for a career development professional who can deliver a particular service or activity.

Download the guidance here


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  • Liz Reece

    Many thanks for this excellent analysis, Anthony.

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  • Juliet English

    Thank you, this has reinforced my understanding.

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