I have just published a new paper looking at educational decision making in the postgraduate area.

Mellors-Bourne, R., Hooley, T. & Marriott, J. (2014). Understanding how people choose to pursue taught postgraduate study. Bristol: HEFCE.

The main points made by the paper are as follows:

The research undertaken by CRAC and iCeGS identified that:

  • prospective PGT students are a diverse and complex group and as a result approach decision making in a range of different ways
  • prospective PGT students who had spent some time outside higher education sometimes find it more difficult to access the information they needed
  • prospective PGT students were typically interested in very local and programme-specific information about the courses that they were exploring
  • prospective PGT students need to be able to identify if study is practical and possible and require information which assures them of this i.e. funding, applications procedures, attendance
  • prospective PGT students found information related to safety and security (for international students), course or departmental reputation, expected time commitment, and career outcomes for graduates from specific programmes most difficult to find
  • prospective PGT students believed that most of the information that they needed to make their decisions was available somewhere but was not always easily found
  • prospective PGT students desired contact with staff who can provide tailored responses to individual queries is important to prospective PGT students.


By now most of you will have picked up that a new version of the statutory guidance for career guidance has been released in England.

I thought that I’d just quickly post up a load of links and a little bit of commentary to help you get to grips with it.

The Government has basically been boxed into revising the old guidance through a whole host of criticism that has come from all quarters. A browse through the schools tag on this site will give you a flavour of some of the problems if you are not familiar with them. However, what seems to have happened is not so much a climb down as one last push. The Government seems to be doing its best to destroy professional career guidance in schools. The latest statutory guidance is simply an attempt to find a different nail to bang into the coffin.

The Government launched the new/revised guidance with a whole host of documents including a Ministerial Statement, the Statutory Guidance itself, some supporting non-statutory advice and a press release. The upshot of all these different documents is further confusion with it being fairly unclear what schools have to do and what they just might like to consider (AKA don’t have to do). The core message of all of these documents however is broadly consistent and goes something like this: Schools should help young people to plan for their futures. The best way to do this is to give them access to employers and representatives from learning providers. There isn’t much purpose in professional advice and guidance. What is more, while this represents an ideal position, it is pretty much up to the school to do what they want anyway. If anyone is going to tell them off it is going to be Ofsted and let’s be honest they won’t get round to it.

Obviously my summary is very “high level” but others have been doing a more detailed job. Tony Watts provides his usual forensic look at the detail in Careers England Policy Commentary 27 and is not any more positive than I am. The Careers Defender Blog summarises in a less critical and more practical way for schools.

Other people have focused on how to build on these foundations by using the release of the guidance as a focus for ideas about best practice. Careers engagement: A good practice brief for leaders of schools and colleges is one example of this sort of thing. There will be others as we all struggle to come to terms with it all.

My guess is that the impact of this latest document will be fairly small. Schools have already established their trajectories in this area. The new guidance adds relatively little to what was already established as the Government’s direction. If it adds anything it is really about encouraging a range of new activities into schools. School will probably need some way to co-ordinate this, which may in the end strengthen the position of school-based careers co-ordinators. On the other hand the guidance further weakens the requirement for professional advice and guidance which probably weakens the position of existing careers providers still further. However, this is just a guess and we shall have to see how the real picture on the ground continues to unfold.

The latest issues of the NICEC Journal looks very interesting. [Download a flyer]

CDI and NICEC members have long been interested in developments overseas both in terms of influencing provision elsewhere and learning from it. We are therefore delighted to introduce eight articles covering a wide variety of international topics. In contrasting ways, each paper demonstrates the scope and variety of careers work across the globe and a number of innovative suggestions are proposed for the enhancement of practice.

The Journal includes the following papers

  • Cross-national reviews of career guidance systems: Overview and reflections – A. G. Watt
  • The flip side: Career guidance policies and social control – Peter Plant and Helene Valgreen
  • Establishing Croatia’s lifelong career guidance service – Nicki Moore, Mirjana Zećirević and Simon Peters 
  • ‘Girls into STEM and Komm mach MINT’: English and German approaches to support girls’ STEM career-related learning – Jo Hutchinson
  • ‘The whole world is my home’: An investigation into how a globalised lifestyle, international capital and an international schooling experience influence the identities and aspirations of young people – Jonathan Young
  • Supporting international students with careers provision: A review of UK higher education careers service provision and a case study based on the University of Exeter – Rachel Coombes
  • Surprised by success: An interim evaluation of an international career development programme – Kathleen Houston
  • The global graduate: Developing the global careers service - Siobhan Neary, Nalayini Thambar and Sharon Bell

To subscribe to the journal visit the NICEC website.



Tristram Hooley:

Thanks to Secondary CEIAG for being quick off the mark with this.

Originally posted on SecondaryCEIAG:

Published today we get:

A Press Release:


The actual Statutory guidance:


and some supplementary guidance with extra information, some wonderful case studies of work in schools, a Q&A section and some helpful web links:


Read, enjoy and debate but my initial thoughts are that no school leader could read those documents and claim “not to know” what to do for Careers work in their school.

View original

Here are some slides that I’m going to use in a workshop today at the University of Brimingham. I’m trying to give the group a start in thinking about what the evidence says about effective work in higher education careers services and then spur them on towards doing some research themselves.

Understanding and enhancing evidence in higher education careers services

Here is a presentation that I gave at the Birmingham Aimhigher conference today. I worked up a whole load of new stuff for it, so it made me think a bit. I’d be interested to hear what anyone thought of it.

Career guidance and widening participation in the Coalition’s Aspiration Nation

Tristram Hooley:

This is really interesting. I’ve been talking about the possibilities that simulators might have for career education for a while, but I haven’t been convinced by anything that I’ve seen. Emily from the Jockey and the Architect blog has put together a really useful guide to this idea.

Originally posted on The Jockey and The Architect:


Have you ever dreamt of being a mining truck driver? How about a car mechanic? Or an Open Sea Fisherman? What about the manager of a professional football or cycling team? If a job exists, there is bound be a simulator PC game for you. If you Google “Simulator PC games” and click on Images, you will see exactly what I mean. Everything from a European bus driver to Fighter Pilot are available for you to experience. Here are just some examples of the ‘virtual careers’ that are open to you (the only limit is your occupational imagination!):

  • Tractor driver (and any other agricultural occupation/equipment operator you can think of)
  • Oil Platform worker
  • Woodcutter
  • Disaster response worker
  • New York taxi driver
  • Garbage truck driver
  • Mining and tunnelling worker
  • World Hockey manager
  • Ship captain
  • Trauma surgeon

These games are getting rave (and not so rave) reviews from players as found on review website Metacritic:

“When i first started getting cow and…

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A presentation that I’m giving in Hertfordshire tomorrow.

Careers Work in the Sixth Form

A presentation that I’m giving tomorrow in Hertfordshire. Features a new rendering of the 7 Cs diagram – wow!

Using Social Media and Digital Technologies to Support Career Building

The latest report from Labour’s Policy Review makes interesting reading in the light of recent policy from the Coalition. Entitled Qualifications matter: improving the curriculum and assessment for all it contains a lengthy section on careers work. This includes the following paragraphs.

In our work we have been struck by the massive unanimity around the importance of Information, Advice and Guidance. The consensus is overwhelming: good, effective, independent advice and guidance is essential. OECD reaches the same view, and goes further. Their argument is that given the massive complexity of the contemporary labour market, no upper secondary system can be truly effective without an independent advice and guidance function, staffed by appropriately trained professionals.

There is good evidence that employers can play a strong role in careers advice – City and Guilds found that 88 per cent of 16-19 year olds believed that employers were the most useful source of careers advice, and there is every reason to suppose that technology can supplement good careers advice. However, none of this should detract from the core issue: that high quality, independent careers advice by appropriately trained professionals is critical in helping young people, and particularly those at risk, in negotiating the transition from education to work.

This is clearly very welcome and would be very nice if it made it into a Labour manifesto. There are also some areas that needs some further thinking including locating the responsibility for careers provision with the LEPs and a proposal that seems to fine schools for high LEP levels. Nonetheless this does suggest that there is some serious policy thinking going on in the Labour camp.