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Careers advice chaos as 1 in 10 ignore new duty


engagement Research shows that students who meet and engage with employers while at school have a much lower chance of becoming a NEET. We look at the research and its implications for schools Pages 8 and 9

School Games

After the axing of School Sport Partnerships, we look at how one school has maintained its sport successes and embraced the new School Games Organiser role Page 14

Student blogs

Blogs can be an engaging tool in any classroom. We look at how they can work and offer advice on getting started Page 11


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A third of schools are unsure about the new duty to offer impartial careers advice; 1 in 10 say they will do nothing by Dorothy Lepkowska

Careers advice and guidance for millions of pupils in England is in chaos because of large gaps left by government cuts to town hall funding, a study has claimed. Despite youth unemployment

now standing at a record high, it emerged this week that nearly one in 10 schools is not planning to offer students any careers advice and many are uncertain as to their new duties and responsibilities. Research by the Institute of

Career Guidance (ICG) has found that some schools are planning to refer pupils to websites and other online information, rather than offer any sort of face-to-face interview. About a third of schools remain undecided about how to proceed. The findings echo research car-

ried out at the University of Derby, which has shown that schools are unclear as to what the government expects of them. New duties under the Education

Act 2011 transfer responsibility for careers guidance in years 9 to 11 from local authorities to schools and by this September, schools will have to secure access to independ- ent and impartial advice – though without any additional funding. The move follows the closure

of the careers advice side of the Connexions service in most local authorities, which mainly supported young people from underprivileged backgrounds. The closure of the Connexions

service has adversely affected four out of five schools, with half reporting a “reduced” or “seriously

reduced” service for pupils, and 13 per cent saying all career guidance services have ceased, the ICG study said. Eight per cent of the 250 schools

that responded were intending to do nothing about careers advice, or simply to refer pupils to web- sites and other online services. Just under half – 49 per cent – of schools were planning to buy-in impartial guidance from external special- ist providers, independent careers advisers or other sources. Nearly all schools, 98 per cent,

said that face-to-face guidance was “important” and nine out of 10 wanted a combination of this, visit- ing speakers, access to websites and telephone helplines. The fact that less than half of

schools are planning to buy-in external services is a cause for con- cern, said Sarah Finnegan-Dehn, the ICG’s president. She said: “A postcode lottery is

developing in England with schools free to decide about the scope, extent and quality of the career education, guidance and support their pupils need and how it should be accessed. “It is baffling to think that fund-

ing cannot be made available to ensure that young people who need help to think about their future plans are given the opportunity to access careers guidance from a qualified careers advisor. “We are concerned that face-to-

face career guidance delivered by a suitably qualified careers profes- sional will simply not be on offer to many young people who need it. Websites and telephone lines can- not replace face-to-face guidance.”

What is the real colour of the sun? Why is the sky blue? Nearly 6,000 students are to be challenged by questions like these after the launch of Lab in a Lorry – a mobile physics laboratory that has embarked on a six month school tour. Find out more on page 2.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern

Ireland the provision of external, independent and impartial career guidance continues to be funded by the public sector. The survey shows various

models being developed by those schools that are planning to offer careers guidance. Some are intend- ing to employ independent careers advisors or permanent staff. Other models include schools setting up confederations to buy-in the serv- ices of a careers advisor, or local authorities offering paid-for services Dr Tristram Hooley, head of the

International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby, said the findings of his own research echoed the ICG report. “The fact that the government

has still not issued the promised guidance is making this uncertainty much worse,” he said. “Without any consistent steer from govern- ment the response of schools was always going to be variable. Some schools have abandoned careers work altogether, but most seem to be trying to do something.” Dr Hooley said there were three

main options for schools. One is “activity-based” where they arrange careers fairs or mentoring. The second is “service-based” where schools provide a programme of advisory services, probably around options and exit of school. The third is where schools embed career learning in the curriculum and support it with on-going access to careers information and advice.

Issue 310 • March 1 2012 Price £1.00

International evidence suggests that the latter is the most effec- tive approach, but it requires high levels of buy-in from the school as well as professional know-how that may not exist in schools with the absence of Connexions. Dr Hooley added: “We are

in a critical period. If the gov- ernment does nothing, the support that young people have for thinking about and moving towards their futures is likely to be in serious decline. “Issuing some robust guidance

would be a step forwards, but atten- tion also has to be paid to what schools are doing, and the level of understanding that exists within schools about how to run an effec- tive career learning programme.”

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