Thanks to Keith from the Careers Sector Stakeholders Alliance for pointing out the House of Commons debate on vocational education that took place on the 4th of June. Just in case you weren’t sure where the main parties stood on careers the following gives you a bit of an insight.
Tristram Hunt, the Opposition’s skills spokesman, stated (pp.19-20):
“Indeed, we only have to look at the shambolic execution of the Government’s careers guidance policy for a textbook display of encouraging perverse institutional incentives. In a tough funding climate, it will be a brave and outstanding school that advises its pupils not to stay on. In a recent conference in Westminster, we saw a very good example of that: a leading academy school that is part of a leading chain said that it had brought in outside careers guidance, exactly as it should be doing, but that it told the person coming in to give the careers guidance that they were not allowed to advise pupils to go to the college up the road. With in-house careers guidance, there is a producer interest in keeping kids along an easily understandable gold-path academic route, as it were, of GCSEs, A-level and university, rather than thinking far more creatively, which requires trained professionals with knowledge of local situations.”
In his summing-up, the Minister (Matthew Hancock) returned to his favourite theme of “inspiration” but gave little idea as to how this inspiration would happen with declining resources in school career support. What he did talk about was the new destination data, however there are still some important questions to be answered about the quality of this data now that Connexions are no longer collecting it – largely how are we going to find out about all of the NEETs. The Minister said (p.25):
“Finally, on careers advice and guidance, we want better inspiration and motivation, character building and the opening of young people’s eyes to wider horizons, with mentoring of them so that everyone can reach their potential. The information is out there—the web is littered with it—but we need to ensure that young people find it, know what is relevant to them and can set and reach their goals. Ofsted is inspecting against the new duty to provide independent and impartial advice, so schools will be inspected for that. Crucially, the new destination data will show not only how many people go to university, but how many go into an apprenticeship or a job. The data will better hold schools to account for the outcomes of the education that they provide, not only on the exams and where they get in those league tables, but on where the students get to. I hope that that improves matters a lot.”