4 Accountability |
The need for accountability
50. A consistent theme throughout our inquiries
and evidence sessions as a committee, examining many different
areas of policy, is the central importanceand potentially
distorting effectsof accountability measures. Schools tend
to focus on those accountability measures that may trigger intervention:
for secondary schools this is the attainment by pupils of five
grade A*-C GCSEs. If careers guidance is to be delivered to a
good standard, schools must be incentivised through robust accountability
measures. We agree with the National Careers Council that there
need to be explicit "performance measures that demonstrate
both relevance and impact."
51. With so many competing demands on a school's
time and resources, witnesses considered that it would be unusual
for school leadership to prioritise spending time and money on
careers guidance without there being an incentive to do so.
For example, Suffolk County Council told us that over half (55%)
of schools in their area had not yet decided what provision they
were going to make for their pupils, with some of this number
saying that they would "make no provision until they are
forced into a stronger position to do so".
We were also told of a headteacher, who, when faced with the option
of either buying careers guidance or extra tutorial support for
maths and English, commented "If I do not hit the floor targets,
I get fired. If I do not do careers, I am not sure that I do get
Jackson, Chief Executive of Engineering UK, told us that "if
Ofsted are not overseeing it and grading it, or if it is not appearing
in a league table, then it will not get those hours".
The Careers Sector Strategic Alliance noted that where schools
are failing to meet the duty, "there are seemingly no grounds
for challenge and remedial action".
52. In oral evidence, the Minister agreed that
the accountability of schools and head teachers was critical and
he assured us that, if schools were not following the statutory
duty, he would "take that very seriously."
The DfE's written submission was equally robust that the Government
had developed a "clear accountability framework through the
introduction of destination measures and a revised Ofsted framework".
We examined both of these in some detail to see how far they met
the crucial need for school accountability to ensure the provision
of careers guidance.
THE OFSTED FRAMEWORK
53. Ofsted is to carry out a thematic review
of careers guidance in schools, which is due to report in the
summer of 2013. Beyond this, we were struck by the lack of clarity
around the role that Ofsted would play through its inspection
framework in ensuring that schools provide independent and impartial
careers guidance. We heard from several witnesses that the current
oversight by Ofsted was not sufficient to hold schools to account.
Employers, school leaders and local authority representatives
all suggested that it was necessary for Ofsted to be charged with
making explicit checks on the extent to which schools meet their
duty. By contrast,
the Minister assured us that it was already the case that Ofsted
would take a school's delivery of careers guidance into account
under the new inspection framework. He saw this as a key accountability
measure for schools.
54. We sought clarification from Ofsted who told
When considering leadership and management in a school,
inspectors take account of a wide range of evidence; this includes
evaluating the extent to which 'pupils have gained a well-informed
understanding of the options and challenges facing them as they
move through the school and on to the next stage of their education
and training'. In order to be judged at least good [...] a school
should ensure pupils are well prepared for the next stage in their
education, training or employment.
However, there are no 'sub-judgements' and no separate
grade for careers education and guidance [...] In addition, schools
which were judged outstanding overall at their last inspection
are now exempt from routine inspection unless risk assessment
identifies a concern. Many schools judged good have up to five
years between inspections [...]
55. We welcome the undertaking
that Ofsted is to conduct a thematic survey of careers guidance
provision in schools which will report in the summer of 2013.
We also welcome the Minister's assurance that he will take the
findings of this survey seriously.
Nevertheless, a survey of provision cannot provide sufficient
incentives to encourage individual schools to implement a good
quality, independent and impartial careers guidance service.
56. We note the disconnect between
the Minister's view of the role of Ofsted in enforcing accountability
on schools through its inspection framework, and Ofsted's own
view. The limitations which Ofsted set out to usthe fact
that its inspections do not make a clear judgement on careers
guidance provision in schools, that it does not inspect against
statutory compliance in this area and that it does not routinely
inspect all schoolsmeans that the Ofsted framework is not
a credible accountability check on the provision of careers guidance
by individual schools.
57. In July 2012, the Government published Key
Stage 4 and 16-18 destination measures for the first time. The
measures report the proportion of a school or college's students
that went on to participate in education or training the year
after they left KS4 or took A level or equivalent qualifications.
The DfE stated that "destination measures provide clear and
comparable information on the success of schools and colleges
in helping all their students take qualifications that offer them
the best opportunity to continue in education or training. They
will also encourage schools and colleges to support and prepare
their students to take up education or training which offers good
long term prospects."
The DfE acknowledged that "the destination measures data
do not enable a direct link to be made between careers guidance
and the destinations of former students" but goes on to argue
that "young people who receive high quality independent and
impartial careers guidance and transition support are more likely
to make the right choice of post-16 education or training".
58. The Government's measures were generally
regarded by witnesses as a useful tool, albeit one with limitations.
As Professor Watts explained, the measurement of destinations
"is valuable and it is worth doing, but it is a very crude
indicator in relation to this [careers guidance]. It measures
students who have found a destination. It does not say anything
about the quality of that destination in terms of their distinctive
aspirations and so forth."
Furthermore, the fact that measures are taken only two terms after
leaving a school or college means that there is not a long enough
timeframe to show the effectiveness or otherwise of careers guidance.
The Minister agreed that the timeframe of destination measures
should be expanded, recognising that "it takes a few years
for pupils to reach their destination."
He also confirmed that the DfE is continuing to work on introducing
employment destinations as part of the statistical release for
59. We conclude that destination
measures as they currently stand are not effective for ensuring
that schools meet their statutory duty. Measures taken too soon
do not provide a complete picture while those taken later remove
the direct accountability on schools, as other factors may have
influenced an individual's destination. Furthermore, the measures
do not show the quality of the careers guidance provision in a
60. There is therefore no
immediate prospect for schools to be held to account for their
provision of careers guidance by means of destination measures.
Nevertheless, we recognise that the measures could be beneficial
in other ways. We recommend that the Department for Education
continues to pursue the inclusion of employment as well as improved
education destination measures to make the data more meaningful.
We also welcome the Minister's ambition to expand the timeframe
of the destination measures in the future.
SCHOOL CAREERS PLAN
61. Our doubts over the adequacy of Ofsted inspections
and destination measures to ensure school accountability for the
provision of high quality, effective careers guidance have led
us to seek out other potential mechanisms to achieve the same
goal. One solution, offered by Professor Tony Watts, was to require
schools to publish and seek feedback on an annual careers plan.
This statement of provision would allow transparency about what
could be expected in terms of career work (including careers education,
guidance and information) and would set out the internal and external
resources allocated to these activities. A similar model is used
effectively in Finland and Ontario, Canada.
As Professor Watts explained:
What [schools] put in that plan can be up to them,
but it should be transparent and visible to the key constituencies
to whom this really matters, which are students, parents, employers
and other learning providers. [...] there should be some feedback
from all of those groups that is used as part of a systemic review
62. When asked, the Minister was not opposed
to the suggestion that schools should have a duty to produce a
careers plan showing how they intend to deliver and resource their
careers guidance activities. He confirmed that he would consider
including the requirement in updating guidance to schools.
63. We recommend that the
Department for Education introduces into the statutory guidance
a requirement for schools to publish an annual careers plan, to
include information on the support and resources available to
its pupils in planning their career development. Schools should
be required to review the plan systematically on an annual basis,
taking into account the views of students, parents, employers
and other learning providers.
65 Ev 67 Back
Ev w151, Ev w158 Back
Ev w88 Back
Ev w49 Back
Ev 80 Back
Q40, Q73-4, Q192, Q 194, Q199 Back
Q28, Q75, Q 168 Back
Q 214, Q 216 Back
Ev w102 Back
Ev w100 Back
Q 267 Back
Destination Measures General Brief, DfE, July 2012 Back
Q 178 Back
Q 287 Back
Q 289 Back
Ev 107 Back
Q 192 Back
Q 290 Back