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.