This is the second of three termly articles I have committed to write for the Careers Leaders Community of Practice this year. It focuses on the value of training for careers leaders and for other teachers involved in the delivery of careers education and guidance in schools and colleges.
When I was appointed to the role of head of careers at St Ivo School in Cambridgeshire in 1981 I was fortunate enough to secure a place on the Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Education and Guidance at Hatfield Polytechnic. The course fee and travel expenses were paid by the local authority and the school organised my timetable so that I had no teaching commitments on Thursday afternoons. For two years every Thursday lunchtime I would drive the 50 miles to Hatfield and benefit from sessions led by an inspiring tutor team that included Bill Law, Tony Watts and Tony Crowley. The sessions ran from 2.00pm to 8.00pm for 28 weeks a year. The course gave me both the information and the inspiration to get to grips with leading the development of the careers programme in school, and I gained so much from not only the tutors but also my fellow course members.
A few years later, when I was being interviewed for the post of Advisory Teacher for CEG with Cambridgeshire Careers Service, I was asked what support should be put in place for careers teachers and I recall saying that we should have a nationally available training course for the role. What I didn’t know then is that we would have to wait another 30 years for that to happen! We did go on to develop such a course in the county over the next year, and this developed over time into a regional course based at the Cambridge Institute of Education and open to all careers teachers in the East of England or within travelling distance to Cambridge. Similar provision was established on other regions around the same time: for example, in the East Midlands at Nottingham Trent University, in Kent at Canterbury Christ Church University, in the North West at Manchester Metropolitan University and in Yorkshire at the University of Huddersfield. However, we never achieved full national coverage ... until now.
Careers Leader Training
I have always thought it a deep irony that the one member of staff in a school who, above all others, should be advocating the need for training and qualifications for jobs, i.e. the careers leader, was often the one member of staff without training for their job! Hence throughout my career in careers I have been lobbying for such courses to be made available for all leaders of careers education and guidance. Eventually it came to pass, when the DfE’s Careers Strategy, published in 2017, gave a commitment to provide a fully-funded training programme open to all careers leaders. The start of the careers leaders training programme coincided with the point at which I decided to retire from full time work but, having campaigned for so long for this CPD to be made available I couldn’t not be involved, which explains why I am pleased to still be working as a consultant to The Careers & Enterprise Company’s team managing the programme.
The programme has been a phenomenal success, with over 2,000 careers leaders registered for the training over the past 3 years. That represents almost half the schools in England. The CDI is one of the major providers, with 366 careers leaders completing its course since 2018 and a further 152 in the stages of completing this year. The courses may not be two years long but they are fully funded plus schools are entitled to a bursary of £1,000 to cover the costs of attendance. Across the country careers leaders report that the courses have given them the information, inspiration and confidence to lead careers in their schools and colleges. The independent, external evaluation of the programme, undertaken by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) last year, found that the programme had positive impact on both careers leaders and on practice in their schools and colleges. Further good news is that the DfE has committed to continuing the funding and I would strongly recommend all careers leaders who have not yet completed the training to sign up for the next round, starting in September 2021. There is a range of provision to suit different preferences, with courses at Level 6, Level 7 or non-accredited and delivered by careers sector training bodies, universities or school leadership training organisations.
Careers awareness training in all teacher training and professional development
The announcement about continuing the careers leader training programme was included in the DfE’s White Paper Skills for Jobs (January 2021). The White Paper also included the following statement: “We will equip the teaching profession to support a whole-school or college approach to careers education by building careers awareness into every step of their professional development, from initial training to education leadership.”
This represents another significant step forward. Wouldn’t it be great if all providers of initial teacher training (ITT) were to include an introduction to careers education and guidance policy and practice into their programmes and if this were then to be followed up in the Early Career Framework once newly qualified teachers started work in school? Further support would come from building training on CEG into the SENCO Award, into middle leadership training for heads of subject departments and pastoral managers and into senior leadership training. Research commissioned by Teach First from iCeGS at University of Derby identified a taxonomy of six roles teachers could perform in delivering careers education and guidance: career informant; pastoral tutor; subject teacher; careers teacher; middle leader (careers); senior leader (careers). The careers leader training programme provides professional development for the latter two roles. The commitment in the White Paper quoted above would provide training for the other four roles and for those who lead their work as subject teachers and tutors.
For details of the careers leader training programme and how to register see Training for Careers Leaders | The Careers & Enterprise Company (careersandenterprise.co.uk)
For details of the CDI’s full provision of training opportunities see https://www.thecdi.net/CDI-Academy