Education Bill

Memorandum submitted by Brian Lawler (E 30)

1. This brief evidence relates to the Section 27 of the Act concerning Careers Guidance in schools in England. A Careers Guidance Practitioner who has worked as a Careers Officer, Careers Adviser and a Connexions Personal Adviser wrote it. These roles have been in various settings that have arisen from Government Acts and LA budgeting. Specifically, I have now worked (in chronological order) for:

A Local Authority Careers Service (created by a 1973 Act)

A Careers Service Company (formed by a 1993 Act and directly financed by Central Government)

A Connexions Service Company (they replaced the Careers Services Companies in 2001 following a 2000 Learning and Skills Act and they were directly financed by Central Govt)

A Local Authority Connexions Service (Local authorities began to take control from 2006 and they created ‘locality teams’. (Ring fenced Central Govt funding originally financed the LA. This ring fencing has now been removed)

I have worked in Independent Schools but mostly in State Schools in the more deprived areas of the Country

2. In my Practitioner experience, the most effective and efficient method of providing impartial, Careers Guidance to pupils in Schools is via a professional, expert, external Practitioner as implied in the Education Bill currently going through Parliament

3. The external Careers Guidance Practitioners cannot be effective unless provided with basic interviewing facilities in Schools (eg: pc, telephone, confidential interviewing space)

4. Basic information about pupils, from Schools, such as academic potential and identified SEN are essential to the work of external Careers Guidance Practitioners

5. It is essential that the external Careers Guidance Practitioner works closely with a named member of School Staff at Management level (usually a ‘ Careers Co-ordinator’ or equivalent) to produce an ongoing Working Agreement between the School and the Guidance Service

6. Alan Milburn’s 2009 ‘Unleashing Aspiration’ Report recommended the disbandment of ‘Connexions Services’ and their replacement by a ‘Professional Careers Service’. In my experience this would be enormously beneficial to the vast majority of pupils who have not received any Service (especially those in State Schools). It would enhance their advancement, increase social mobility and result in an increase in the general prosperity of this Country

7. Effective Careers Guidance Practitioners need to be professionally trained in up-to-date guidance techniques, have regular ongoing contacts with local and national Employers, Apprenticeship Providers & Other Training Providers as well as Further & Higher Education Staff. Such contacts provide the Guidance Practitioners with robust, realistic perceptions of what is really required of School & College Leavers. This knowledge and understanding can then be directly utilised by the Practitioners when guiding individual pupils. It cannot be replaced by the often more glossy and superficial material available on internet sites and hardcopy materials

8. Since the formation of the Connexions Service it has not been possible for Careers Guidance Advisers to be fully up-to-speed in the way described above in Para 7. The targeted ‘Personal Adviser’ role that replaced the ‘Careers Adviser’ role has resulted in the de-professionalisation of the Careers Guidance role and to the neglecting of the careers guidance needs of the majority of pupils. Obviously this may have had a detrimental effect on pupils’ social mobility and ultimately on the economic prosperity of this Country. Wrong decisions about courses/jobs/training may resulting in students ‘dropping-out’ or taking jobs that are well below their potential

9. A professional Careers Guidance Service requires Practitioners to have access to specific high level training in the theory and practice of Careers Guidance

February 2011