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Careers Strategy 2.0: moving on from 2020 David Andrews

Over the course of the year 2019-20 I wrote a series of 12 short, monthly articles for the Community of Practice. These have now been brought together into a single document available on the CDI’s website at: . This year I have committed to writing three articles, one each term. This first one offers a personal view on what should be included in the next phase of the Careers Strategy.

The DfE’s strategy, published in December 2017, set out an ambitious programme of action, with targets up to the end of 2020 and the overall aim of all young people having access to a careers programme that meets the eight Gatsby Benchmarks. Over the past three years careers leaders have made a huge amount of progress but the job is not yet complete. The latest data from The Careers & Enterprise Company shows that on average schools and colleges are achieving 3.75 Benchmarks. So we are almost halfway there.

There is more to be done and I am confident that careers leaders will continue to work on developing their programmes, but their efforts need to be supported by the next phase of the Strategy. As I write this article we are told to expect the details to be published soon in a new White Paper on FE.

Last December I was invited to give the Annual Lecture at the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS), University of Derby. I took the opportunity to propose ten actions to be included in the second phase of the Strategy, with a particular focus on careers education, alongside the other components careers information, work with employers and education and training providers, and personal career guidance. I will start my December 2020 list of proposals with a review of the actions I set out a year ago.

1. Reinstate the statutory duty to provide careers education and extend the requirement to age 18. There has been no movement to bring forward legislation to do this and no evidence that this is even being considered, despite continued statements about how important careers education is.

2. Amend Gatsby Benchmark 4 to include an explicit expectation that schools and colleges should provide a planned programme of careers education in the curriculum, comprising both work in other subjects and a discrete provision. To date there is no sign that Gatsby plans to revise the Benchmarks in light of experience of implementing them over the six years since they were first published.

3. Prepare and promote a new framework for careers education. Here the news is more positive. The CDI has commissioned Tristram Hooley to lead a project to revise the current framework. The outcomes of this work will be available early in 2021 and it is to be hoped that The Careers & Enterprise Company will promote the Framework as a recommended set of learning outcomes to sit alongside the framework of inputs represented by the Benchmarks.

4. Extend the network of careers hubs to cover the whole country. In September 2020 the hubs network was expanded such that it now embraces 45% of schools and colleges in England. We should continue to push to ensure that each and every school and college has access to this network of support.

5. Continue the careers leader training programme beyond 2020. The Careers Strategy introduced, for the first time in England, a fully-funded national training programme for careers leaders. It was initially funded for two years but is now operating in its third year with a further 650 places and there are plans to continue the programme until at least 2024.

6. Encourage providers of initial teacher education to include an introduction to career guidance in their programmes for trainee teachers. This is a long-held ambition. Although there are no immediate developments discussions are continuing.

7. Encourage all schools and colleges to include sessions on career guidance in their programmes of CPD. Much of the activity on this proposal to date has been dependent on local initiatives, although discussions are taking place about the possibility of including careers guidance in the Early Career Framework for recently qualified teachers.

8. Actively promote the Quality in Careers standard as an external validation of achieving all eight Benchmarks. The DfE did fund some promotional events in March 2020 and both the Quality in Careers Consortium and the licensed providers continue to promote the standard. More could be achieved if The Careers & Enterprise Company were to encourage schools and colleges to work towards the award.

9. Make development funding available to all schools and colleges. Programme development requires resources. It is remarkable how much careers leaders have achieved with very limited budgets. The DfE should take on board the lessons from the Gatsby pilot, which demonstrated that a modest level of development funding can lead to significant strides in progress.

10. Require schools and colleges to publish details of whether or not they have achieved the Quality in Careers standard. The Strategy strongly recommended that all schools and colleges should work towards the standard. The accountability measure proposed here would provide a further incentive to achieve the standard. Schools and colleges are already required to publish details of their careers programmes so this would be a straightforward addition.

This review has indicated where action is still needed and what support schools and colleges should be given in the next phase of the Strategy. There were ten items on my wish list last year: as we approach the 12 days of Christmas I would like to all two more.

Firstly, the funding formulae for both school and college budgets must be amended to include an allocation to cover the costs of providing personal career guidance. Back in 2012 individual schools and colleges were given a statutory duty to secure access to careers guidance for young people, yet none of the funding that local authorities had previously spent on this service was transferred to schools and colleges. If we are to meet Benchmark 8 for all pupils and students this has to be rectified.

Secondly, we have to find a way of making career guidance available to the tens of thousands of young people who are not in a school or college. The current policy framework assumes that each and every young person is in a school or college, but we know that many are not, including the large number who are home-educated. Changing the remit of the National Careers Service to include the provision of career guidance to young people not attending a school or college would go some way towards plugging this gap in support.

Careers leaders have achieved an enormous amount of progress in the past three years, particularly in the last 12 months when the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up a further set of challenges. A second phase of the Careers Strategy that incorporates the points above would provide the much needed support to maintain these developments beyond 2020.

December 2020

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