CDI Survey of Schools

CDI survey

The Career Development Institute has just released a new survey of schools exploring career education and guidance and employer links.

The survey is based on 319 responses. It provides some useful evidence about how careers provision in schools is evolving. In particular it highlights the fact that around a third of (respondent) schools are now employing their own careers specialist. This was the most popular approach to addressing the statutory duty.

England is now well on its way to moving towards a school based approach to career education and guidance. Whatever the relative merits of this approach, we do at least need to admit that this is now the dominant paradigm and that the old partnership model is pretty much dead. Even where schools are contracting in services from outside the relationship is dominated by the school and does not have many of the features of partnership working.


Every School Should Have Someone To Lead Its Career Education

I’ve written a piece for The Huffington Post which draws on our recent paper Teachers and Careers.

Every School Should Have Someone To Lead Its Career Education

Since 2011 career education and guidance has been under attack in England. Politicians like Michael Gove have argued that there was no need for any kind of professional support for young people’s careers. Instead, employers could do it all on a voluntary basis. This has been regrettable as it has meant that young people have lost access to any professional support for their education and career choices… Read more

Changing numbers of careers advisers in schools

I’ve been sent a very interesting answer to a Parliamentary Question asked by Jim Cunningham. He asked the Government to provide information on how many staff in schools had the role of careers adviser in the academic year (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11, (c) 2011-12, (d) 2012-13 and (e) 2013-14.

The answer suggests that this number is steadily growing.

2010 – 450 careers advisers

2011 – 470

2012 – 570

2013 – 660

Source: School Workforce Census. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

I’ve never worked with the School Workforce Census so I’d be really interested to hear from someone who has. My main question is whether “careers adviser” is the only careers relevant category (and so includes a range of other careers co-ordinator type roles). If it is then these data tell an interesting story.

What this seems to say to me is that while we have seen a growth in school investment in careers work following the collapse of Connexions (see Collapse or Transition for the story on this) this growth has been relatively small. The figure of 660 schools that employ careers advisers aligns well with our finding in Advancing Ambitions that 820 schools hold a careers quality award. I suspect that these two numbers overlap considerably which lends credence to my usual guesstimate that less than a quarter of secondary schools in England are really taking careers seriously (but that those that do are often investing in it to a relatively high degree e.g. employing staff).

Unison have pointed out that this figure also says nothing about the qualifications of the careers advisers employed by the schools. Given the fact that there is no regulation on this it would be surprising if all of these advisers were qualified.

However, even without information on qualifications this provides us with a useful insight into school’s engagement in careers. I think that we should continue to monitor this number over the next few years.

The Kent Model of Career Education and Guidance

I’ve been doing some work in schools in Kent. I think that there is some evidence that a new model of career education and guidance is beginning to emerge across the county. I’m going to be presenting this back to some of the schools in Kent today. I’d be interested to hear what people think about this.

The essence of what I’m calling the “Kent Model” is (1) a strong countywide infastructure to support the development of career education and guidance (2) a committment by the schools to build an internal infastructure (notably through the employment of a full-time careers co-ordinator).

Is the “Kent Model” also appearing in other counties? If so with what sort of regularity?

The Kent Model of Career Education and Guidance by Tristram Hooley

Career Detectives

There has been a lot of conversation about gamification and serious games in education. Some people are skeptical about this, but I can see the potential for career education. However I’ve seen a lot of products that haven’t really worked as games or haven’t found their application in the classroom. I’d really like to find a way to do some more research in this area.

In this post I interview Jon and Joseph from Big Green Fox about their Career Detectives game for schools. They have been working with schools using a game for a number of years now. 

I’d be really interested to hear more (and perhaps feature a guest post) from any schools that have used either this game or anything similar.

Who are you?

We are a pioneering company, unique in our commitment to careers education starting earlier, in primary schools, and supporting educators in delivering a competency, not just content, based education which helps young people better understand why they are attending school. We don’t believe that a child’s future should be determined by a computer so our teaching resources encourage peer-supported exploration and positive discussion about life choices with friends, teachers and family. In doing so we aim to raise aspirations and attainment, broaden horizons and increase social mobility.

Big Green Fox was founded by Joseph Leech, a former careers advisor and local authority Education Officer, and Jon Maiden, formerly the director of an arts education charity and manager of a school for blind and multiple disability children in South Africa.

What is Career Detectives?

Career Detectives is a powerful tool to help teachers embed careers education within the core curriculum. The resource, which is centred around a board game, raises aspirations by making links between educational subjects and future career opportunities and broadens young people’s horizons by educating them about the wide range of opportunities in the world of work.

Career Detectives helps children understand the purpose of education and give learning context, integrates Careers with the Maths, English and Science curriculum to demonstrate the links between education and future life choices, provides a range of stimulating information about careers across all sectors, enhances and raises awareness of key skills including team work, communication, leadership, creativity and confidence and embeds other key learning outcomes including healthy eating and citizenship.

Career Detectives board

Why did you decide to present career learning as a board game?

Most of us were less than overwhelmed with our own careers education at school, and continue to be so about that offered to our own children. Computers may have much to offer but an over-reliance on databases has led to an emphasis on Careers Information to the detriment of Careers Advice and Guidance.

Moreover careers education needs to be embedded into the curriculum, not offered as an add-on. In this way pupils begin to make essential connections between what they are learning, what is on offer in the world of work, and the employability skills they need in addition to their qualifications to get where they want to be in life. However, teachers are rarely trained in careers advice and guidance and we have designed Career Detectives as a resource which can be easily used and applied by teachers, assistants, and other support workers to this end.

Playing Career Detectives

Why a board game? Aren’t kids only interested in Xbox these days?

On the contrary, our experience has shown that this is only a myth perpetuated by adults. Our feedback has shown overwhelmingly that children relish the opportunity to play a game with friends that enables them to work together collaboratively, develop new skills and communicate and work away from a computer screen on something creative and tactile.We’ve found that children themselves have loved it.

Career Detectives

Does it being in a game format trivialise it?

At Big Green Fox we feel that most careers education begins too late, when children have already made important choices, become fixed in their notions of what they are good at and less good at, and begun to limit their own horizons in accordance with their own social context. Creative careers education needs to begin at an early age to enable maximum social mobility and increase aspiration by informing all children what a wide range of career choices the world has to offer.

Games are the perfect way to begin this process. They are a powerful means to engage young people with education, encourage teamwork and collaboration, and stimulate positive discussion. In fact studies show that games can raise average test scores by as much as 90%.

Who is using it?

Career Detectives is now being used widely across the UK and abroad. It’s being used by both primary and secondary schools as well as by youth groups, colleges, universities, Education Business Partnerships (EBPs), careers services, local authorities and children’s services, and businesses as part of their outreach programmes.

We designed Career Detectives to be a highly flexible tool to help any educator deliver careers education but have been amazed by just how far and wide the resource is now being used.

How is it going down?

Career Detectives has been unanimously well received by pupils, teachers and careers advisors alike and has also received praise and endorsements from UK government ministers, educational tsars and prominent business leaders. In fact you can read our testimonials on our website.

There has been a lot of changes in school based careers work lately. How have these impacted on you and Career Detectives?

We’re finding that there has been a flurry of demand for Career Detectives since the government announced that careers education was to become mandatory for pupils in year 8 onwards from September 2013. Teachers and other school staff, who may have no training in careers advice and guidance, have been given the responsibility of this new provision and are now pro-actively seeking resources which will help them more effectively deliver careers education.

But overall this is not a trend confined to the new year 8 provision. As careers services are increasingly cut back but schools are still required to offer independent careers advice, we find many teachers keen to use a resource which offers an independent source of information whilst helping them frame their advice and guidance into structured, creative and enjoyable lessons.

What is next for you and the game?

We’re looking to build on the success of our first year and see Career Detectives used more extensively across the UK and beyond. To this end, we’re exploring partnerships with other organisations who share our vision for better careers education and a more competency focused education system, such as with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield.

We’re also busy developing our next two careers resources which we hope to be available later in 2013. Work It Out will be the first interactive whiteboard resource to exclusively focus on helping young people develop the key competencies needed for employment, whilst learning more about different careers and the purpose of education. And with Career Trumps, children use the playing cards to discover about a multitude of careers across all sectors in a fun manner which stimulates positive discussion about future career choices.

Exciting times ahead for Big Green Fox!

Learning more about the school guidance counsellor model in Ontario

I’ve always been interested in the school guidance counsellor model that you find in the US, Canada, Ireland etc. It is a very different model from the one that we have been used to in the UK and so it is difficult to get a feel for how it works from the outside.

I’ve written about school guidance counsellor’s in Canada before, but after visiting some schools in Ontario and talking to guidance counsellors here (including the local professional association)I feel that I didn’t get it quite right in my previous post. Or at least that the way I described it doesn’t fully describe how it works in Ontario.

So I will have another go at describing it and anyone who is reading this in Ontario can explain why I’ve got it wrong.

In Ontario ever secondary school has a guidance counsellor. In fact secondary schools are funded to have 1 counsellor for every 385 students. In practice this means that most schools have more than one guidance counsellor, often situated as part of a broader student support department. Guidance counsellors seem to be involved in three main activities as far as I can see.

  1. The provision of pastoral support and personal counselling to students who are having problems.
  2. The provision of support for students educational choice making. In Ontario students have the opportunity to choose from a range of course options. This includes balancing different subject, academic and vocational track subjects as well as taking advantage of work-experience (co-op as it is called here). The counsellor supports the individual in these choices, but also support the school to manage its response to student demand. This essentially means that the counsellor has a major role in building the timetable, which in turn has implications for things like staffing and the general ethos of the school.
  3. The provision of career and transition support.

My understanding has always been that one of the problems with the school counsellor model was the draw to deal with accute problems leading to the excessive focus on (1). However, during this visit it seems clear to me that, in Ontario at least, counsellors are spending most of their time on (2). This gives counsellors a very important role in the school, in fact Ontarian schools would not be able to function without this role as the process of choice making and ensuring that students don’t pick strange or unhelpful combinations for their post-secondary destinations is absolutely critical. This is appealing as it builds counsellors right into the heart of school life and the school ethos.

However, there are also tensions in this approach. Firstly there are dangers that counselling becomes an arm of the timetable. The counsellor serves the dual masters of the individual student and the effective running of the school’s timetable. Secondly this constitutes a considerable administrative load which inevitably takes counsellors away from directly working with students.

The links between educational choice making and career are very close, however, the activities of supporting educational choice making and career building are not the same ones. I’ve actually got a strong sense that counsellors in Ontario are actively involved in working on career with students, but it is also clear that this is secondary to supporting educational choice making. One place that this could be addressed would be in the compulsory Civics and Careers course that schools in Ontario have to offer. However, it is clear that counsellor involvement in these courses is patchy with the courses often being taught by other members of staff. This leads me to think that career education (in the UK sense of education about career development) is not as well developped as an activity in Ontario as you might expect given its compulsory place in the curriculum. I find it difficult to understand why guidance counsellors (who are all trained teachers) aren’t keen to own it.

I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen so far in Ontario. I’d be interested to hear whether people feel that my summary is accurate, or whether I’ve missed the point.