Education select committee

Yesterday I appeared in front of the Education Select Committee to discuss career guidance policy in England. Also on the panel were Dr Rebecca Montacute (The Sutton Trust), Alice Barnard (Edge Foundation) and Chris Percy (Researcher).

You can watch the whole show on parliamentary TV.

The rest of the panel were excellent and put me to shame. In general we were all trying to sing from the same hymn sheet; the existing career guidance policy has some positive features (Gatsby, the Careers and Enterprise Company and Careers Leaders) but it is under resourced and poorly coordinated.

The Committee gave us a pretty hard time (which I suppose is their job), but it revealed a few worrying assumptions that hopefully will not sustain for the whole of the inquiry.

Firstly, there was a willingness to question some of the basic tenets of the existing policy. Is Gatsby really useful? Do we need the Careers and Enterprise Company and so on. There was consensus on the panel that dismantling the whole thing was a bad idea, but it wasn’t clear that we convinced the panel.

Secondly, there was an unwillingness to consider the idea that a lack of resources might be the problem. Again we pushed hard on this and argued that there was a need to find more resources, at least to direct to more disadvantaged students.

Thirdly, there was a narrative developing that the money that was spent on this area e.g. through the Careers and Enterprise Company, would be better being directed to schools. By my calculations this would probably end up with about £7,000 arriving in every school’s bank account. I can’t see what this could meaningfully buy you.

I will be watching the rest of the inquiry with interest.



  1. Thank you for being there!
    It’s interesting to note how no-one focussed on the nature of the ‘outcome’ for CEG which is learning.
    The kind of outcomes the committee is interested in are really difficult/impossible to measure;
    you can shed light on the effectiveness of career interventions but you cannot claim job/education outcomes are caused by those interventions. (no-one would do it for any other learning – e.g. science teachers are not measured on the number of people who become scientists because we know that the relationship between science education and career choice is so much more complex than that).
    On funding, the elephant in the room remains the money spent prior to Connexions.
    Also, the points about strategy are key and I do hope any new strategy includes learner entitlement which is sufficiently nuanced to take account of the reality that outcomes are as much about social capital/networks/opportunism/parental knowledge/etc as career interventions. That is, CEG is also about social justice and ‘levelling up’.
    There was much more done on CEG as a cross curricular theme in the 80s/90s …. I’m sure I still have some reports somewhere!!

    • Me too Jane.. I watched the committee with interest. We’ve been trying to establish a causal link between careers and success (whatever that means for years). I find the very reductive approach slightly depressing.. have a few employer encounters, watch a video and bingo. For those of us who have been involved in CEIAG for many years, we know it’s not that simple!

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