The quality of careers guidance in schools is ‘nothing less than appalling’, according to Association of Colleges’ President Michele Sutton.

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Photo: St Andrews

In a speech to AoC’s annual conference in Birmingham on 19th November, she called on the government to do more to prevent young people from dropping out of education, employment or training.

“Principals across the country agree that the quality of impartial careers advice and guidance is nothing less than appalling. We must take every opportunity to make this point or young people will continue to make uninformed choices about their futures,” she said.
The Prime Minister has acknowledged that young people are not told enough about their options after finishing school at 16 and policy needs to be changed, but the AoC President urged him to “get a move on. The longer this disgraceful situation exists, the longer-term effect there is on students.”

Ofsted has also expressed concern about the amount of careers guidance that is being given in schools. In September they published a report stating that three quarters of schools visited were not implementing their duty to supply impartial careers advice effectively, and that the advice that is given is not explicit. Since September 2012 schools have been legally required to provide careers advice to pupils aged 14 – 16. They found that ‘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.’ Following this report, the Government produced an action plan, but AoC would have liked it to go further.

In January the House of Commons Education Committee reported that careers guidance services for young people will continue to deteriorate unless the Government takes urgent action. The Education Select Committee Chair, Graham Stuart, said “The stakes are high – both for young people and for the Government itself, whose reforms are undetermined if there is no decent signposting within education and between education and the world of employment.”

Michele Sutton commented that “Too many people, usually those who need advice the most, miss out. They end up in the wrong institution, usually school sixth forms, doing the wrong course […] Education Funding Agency data shows that schools lose 50% of their pupils between years 11 and 13.”

The AoC have launched a campaign, Careers Guidance: Guaranteed, aimed at ensuring young people have access to advice on post-14 education, training and employment. They have also started a parliamentary petition calling on the Government to support their campaign.