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Guaranteeing careers guidance is crucial

The Association of Colleges’ third annual survey of careers advice and guidance shows that colleges are still facing the same old barriers in getting information about their offer to young people in schools. 105 out of the 341 member sixth-form and further education colleges in England responded to the survey. They replied that 44% of 11-18 schools allowed them only limited access compared with 9% of 11-16 schools.

The problems encountered by colleges in getting information into the schools that they judge to be providing poor/limited advice have remained broadly the same across the three surveys:

  • Refusing offers from college liaison officers to speak to pupils
  • Non participation in taster days
  • Not distributing college prospectuses
  • Only allowing college liaison officers to speak to selected students
  • Refusing to display college information in careers units or across the school site.


The AoC’s concerns about shortcomings in school-delivered independent careers guidance prompted them to launch their ‘Careers Guidance: Guaranteed’ campaign in September last year. They were also concerned about the risk of disengagement by young people affected by the Raising the Participation Age if they made poor choices at 14. The campaign calls for all young people to have access to careers advice on post-14 education, employment and training options.

It calls for:

  • Accountability - Ofsted should inspect and report on all careers guidance in schools and colleges to ensure staff delivering careers advice are properly qualified. Such institutions should only be graded good or outstanding by Ofsted if their careers guidance is good or outstanding
  • Access - improved access to advice with colleges, Jobcentre Plus, local authorities and local enterprise partnerships working together to ensure there’s one careers ‘hub’ in each area which is clearly signposted as a place where local people can get advice about their options
  • Informed choice – install a widget on all school and college websites to link to the National Careers Service
  • Investment – To ensure the National Careers Service meets the needs of young people, DfE should match the annual funding provided to it by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

 The campaign’s e-petition to the Department for Education is open until 22 October 2014.

For the second year, colleges were asked if they felt that IAG in schools had improved since new rules in September 2012. The number disagreeing or strongly disagreeing has fallen from 80% to 59%. Although no colleges strongly agreed with the statement, 24% agreed that IAG had improved (up from 3% last year). While this small improvement is welcome, the bigger problem remains that, for reasons that have not been fully identified, schools find it difficult to provide independent IAG about the provision in other institutions. Year 9 options, for example, used just to be about the curriculum options in the same institution. As well, it is now about 14+ options offered by other providers such as FE colleges, studio schools and University Technology Colleges (UTCs). How will the long-awaited  revised statutory guidance address these difficult issues for schools and colleges?

Download the report here

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