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Primary Education News
News Career advice in schools is failing pupils, Ofsted warns
Department for Education announces plans to revise guidance, as survey finds three quarters of schools do not offer adequate careers guidance
Schools are failing to provide adequate careers advice to students, Oftsed has said.
Three quarters of the schools visited by the education watchdog were not providing effective, impartial careers guidance.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted's chief inspector, said: "Too few schools are doing enough to ensure all their students receive comprehensive advice about the breadth of career opportunities available to them."
Since last year, schools have been legally responsible for arranging independent, impartial careers advice for pupils in years 9 to 11. But Ofsted's hard-hitting report, published today, has said the system is "not working well enough."
Student career guidance was previously provided by Connexions, a government-funded agency, which was disbanded at a national level in 2012. Now, schools are responsible for providing careers advice, but have been given no extra funding to pay for it.
Responding to the report, the Department for Education (DfE) has announced plans to revise its guidance for schools and colleges.
Wilshaw said: "It is worrying that the new arrangements are failing to provide good guidance or to promote vocational training options and apprenticeships. It is vitally important that young people have access to information on the full range of career pathways available so they can make informed choices about their next steps."
The report's findings were based on the inspection of 60 secondary schools and academies. Out of these schools, Ofsted said that only 12 had made sure every student was receiving enough careers advice.
It said: "From the evidence gathered by this survey, too few schools are providing careers guidance that meets the needs of all their students."
"Very few of the schools visited knew how to provide a service effectively or had the skills and expertise needed to provide a comprehensive service. Few schools had purchased an adequate service from external sources.
"The information students received about careers was too narrow. Too many students were unaware of the wide range of occupations and careers that they might consider."
Skills minister, Matthew Hancock, said: "We gave schools and colleges the responsibility for securing good careers advice for their pupils because they know them best.
"Ofsted highlighted excellent careers advice already being provided by schools, but I want all schools to do as the best do – inspiring young people, providing work experience and putting them in touch with employers."
The National Careers Service is responsible for providing impartial careers guidance via its website and telephone service for people aged 13 and over. But Ofsted said its services were "poorly promoted" and "little used", claiming that most students and teachers found the website to be too adult focused. It said: "The National Careers Service does not focus sufficiently on supporting young people up to the age of 18."
Although the National Careers Service offers a helpline and online advice for young people, face-to-face support is only offered to adults aged 19 and over; 18-year-olds can use the service only if they receive out-of-work benefits.
Last month, a report by Barnardo's found that the services were a well-hidden secret that young people often "can't use or don't even know exist".
"For careers guidance to be taken seriously by young people it needs to come from a trusted and authoritative source that they know," the Barnardo's report said. "While web and phone-based services can be extremely helpful in providing specialist information, they can never truly replace the advice and guidance elements that are present in face-to-face interaction."
It said: "Despite the coalition government emphasising the importance of young people receiving impartial, independent, and preferebly face-to-face, guidance in schools, this is not happening everywhere."
Responding to Ofsted's findings, shadow education minister, Tristram Hunt said: "This report is a damning indictment of David Cameron and Michael Gove who have brutally undermined careers advice for young people.
"This goes to the heart of their economic incompetence and shows how out of touch they are. With nearly a million young people unemployed, the need for a high quality and impartial careers services is more important than ever."
Brian Lightman, general secretary, of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: "Sadly, the findings of this report, which reflect the warnings we and many others have consistently given to government, are no surprise to school and college leaders.
"The duty to provide careers guidance was placed on schools at a time when most existing infrastructure and funding for such provision had been removed. School leaders know how important careers guidance is but have, in many parts of the country, struggled to meet this requirement."