Careers guidance for young people: The impact of the new duty on schools - Education Committee Contents

Annex 1

Note of Committee's visit to Bradford
22 October 2012

The Committee undertook a visit to Bradford as part of its inquiry into Careers Guidance for Young People. During the course of the day it met with: Bradford Metropolitan District Council; students and members of the senior leadership team of Bradford College; and local employers at Bradford Chamber of Commerce.

Bradford Metropolitan District Council

The Council discussed the partnership it had established with a number of schools to provide universal and targeted careers guidance services for young people. The following points were made:

  • The partnership approach allowed economies of scale to be realised.
  • The Council had negotiated a flexible contract which gave schools a minimum level of provision but also the ability to purchase more should they wish to. The contract also allowed the Council to fully meet its responsibility to targeted groups.
  • Each school in the partnership provided a minimum of £10,000 to the partnership with the Council providing a much larger sum of money for targeted services.
  • There was some concern around the future funding of the partnership. As schools did not have any additional budget given to them to perform the duty, it was unclear whether or not they would continue to put money into careers guidance services. The schools were only committed on a yearly basis and the Council had to wait to see how many would sign up for future years.
  • Representatives of the schools in the partnership commented that they found it difficult to see how schools could provide the level of service without the local authority's partnership. They saw the partnership as a particular strength and commented that the contract was well-negotiated and provided best value for money. However, the provision being bought into schools was described as "adequate", with around one and a half days a week being given to each school. This was compared to the previous provision of two days a week in the last year and four days a week prior to that.
  • There is performance management of the contract and the provider is obliged to seek feedback on itself. This is one way that the impartiality and quality of the contract is monitored.
  • The Council had encouraged schools to maintain work-experience and work placements for students both pre- and post-16. It had also encouraged the promotion of apprenticeships to young people in schools.
  • There is a tension over whether a contractor can deliver truly independent advice and guidance—which may include advice to not remain at an institution—when they are paid by that institution.
  • It was commented that the guidance provided by the DfE was written in such a way that some head teachers will conclude that it is acceptable to "give young people a leaflet" to meet the duty for independent and impartial guidance.
  • There was broad agreement that the expansion of the National Careers Service's role to provide face-to-face support to young people would be a good thing. This view was accompanied, however, by a very strong feeling that the support to young people needed to be rooted in the locality. This way local labour market information can be fed into the information, advice and guidance that young people receive.

The targeted support and Youth Contract provision in Bradford was also discussed.

  • Under the Youth Contract, three NEET groups were being targeted: pupil referrals, young offenders and young parents. Key workers will work closely with personal advisors from Connexions and the young people will be identified through common assessments.
  • Bradford had developed its own risk of NEET indicator system and this was being used to ensure early intervention.

Bradford College—senior leadership team

The Committee met first with members of the senior leadership team, and the following points were made:

  • The College receives a high number of entrants aged 17, who arrive after having studied a year of A levels. This was as a direct result of young people receiving poor advice in year 11.
  • Many schools were not giving impartial, independent advice to their pupils - and it was not possible for them to do so because of their own vested interest in retaining pupils.
  • The College has a school liaison team, which had built good relationships with some schools while there was more difficult relationships with others. The College had been denied access to talk to pupils at a number of local schools. An example was given of one Ofsted outstanding school to which the College had never been invited to give information to its pupils. This school retains 87% of its pupils into its own sixth form.
  • It was suggested that one way of making head teachers more accountable for the quality of the careers advice and guidance would be through tracking of 20 to 25 year olds—in other words, long term destination measures.
  • It was recommended that the statutory duty to provide independent and impartial careers guidance should be removed from schools.

Bradford College—students

Asked about their experience of careers guidance, the students made the following points:

  • A student had spoken to someone in year 11 and as a result had done a year of sixth form. There had been no guidance at the end of that. Many felt that they had wasted a year in this way. They had stayed on because it was the easiest option and was promoted by the school.
  • Similarly, a number of other students felt that the advice they received from Connexions advisers in year 11 had been poor and that they had spent a year doing courses which did not help them achieve their career goals. This too was described by many as a "wasted year".
  • There was general agreement that you did not get advice if you were not staying on at school. All present had found their courses by themselves without guidance. Two students said that they had never spoken to anyone about careers.
  • All agreed that any advice given was on jobs and not how to get there. It was all about what you want to do and not about what skills you have and what you could do.
  • For some students, the main source of advice was their parents.
  • Once you left school, you had to know about advice centres and what to say when you got there. Former schoolmates who had left school without advice were now "lost", doing nothing.
  • Once you leave education, there is no help available to get back into it. There should be more help for those who leave VI form after one year.
  • Labour market information was regarded as important by the students although there was agreement that this was lacking. Some commented that they would have liked to have been given more information on the post-course employment rate before they enrolled.
  • Asked about careers guidance at the FE college, only one student had been to see the adviser. The others present were not aware that there was such a person.

On the question of how careers guidance could be improved the following points were made:

  • Schools should provide as much information as they can about your future, including that college is not just for those who can't get into sixth form.
  • One student argued that the main purpose of schools was to deliver in terms of education. They should not be telling you where you should go next. However, there was some support for the concept that schools should give careers advice: "because teachers know you".
  • Young people should not have to choose a career in year 11. They should wait until they have better information.
  • It would be a good idea to have more open days and workshops at colleges so students could see what it was like. Teachers should know more about courses. Schools should also give colleges a platform. There should be a careers day with different colleges attending.
  • Another idea was motivational talks in schools about what you could do.
  • Schools should give students information on what is available and the consequences if you leave at 16, 17, 18 etc. For example, they should tell you that you have to pay the full amount to do an apprenticeship at 24. At present, there was no information on what you could do or possible avenues.
  • Schools should also collaborate with businesses: no information had been available through schools about the big companies in Bradford and what they were doing.

Those present suggested the following recommendations:

  • Get knowledge across to children in year 10 at the latest
  • Year 9 when students pick their options would be even better.
  • There should be more promotion of different courses and careers.
  • Face-to-face advice was definitely more important than other types of advice. It was not good enough to have advice available only on the phone or online.
  • There should be opportunities to meet careers advisers and those doing the jobs.

Bradford Chamber of Commerce

The following points were made to the Committee by local employers:

  • There was general agreement that careers advice for young people was "limited, unimaginative and of poor quality". It was also widely felt that engaging with schools was very difficult.
  • Schools need to be given more capacity to take on the careers guidance duty.
  • The focus of advice appeared to be on getting young people to go to university rather than on how to get into a particular career or job.
  • Young people's lack of knowledge of what employers require was a concern shared by all delegates. There was a strong feeling that the education system was biased towards qualifications rather than giving young people workplace and "soft" skills. It was this that employers thought was most important to have in young recruits—particularly for SME employers. One delegate thought that the awareness of the world of work should be part of the curriculum.
  • There was agreement that teachers should have local labour market training as part of their continuous professional development. In addition, teachers should undertake work placements to increase their understanding of business and other work-place environments. Many teachers have gone straight to teaching from university and have not experienced the wider world of work.
  • The current work placement model doesn't work for employers. One person mentioned the amount of red tape involved in taking on work experience students. For this reason he was hesitant to continue providing this opportunity.
  • A number of delegates felt that the quality of careers guidance should be a key performance indicator under Ofsted inspections.
  • Many felt that careers advice and guidance needed to be demand-led not supply-led and to take into account local business needs.

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2013
Prepared 23 January 2013