Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance: Government response to the Committee’s Fourth Report

Fifth Special Report of Session 2022–23

Author: Education Committee

Related inquiry: Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG)

Date Published: 21 September 2023

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1. The Education Select Committee launched its inquiry into careers education, information, advice and guidance in January 2022 and published its report on 29 June 2023. This document sets out the Government’s response to that report.

2. The Government welcomes the Committee’s report and shares its views on the importance of careers education, information, advice and guidance. The Government’s vision for careers and a broad summary of our response is provided under themed headings below. A response to each of the Committee’s 27 recommendations is provided after this summary. The recommendations are numbered according to the order in which they appear in the Committee’s report, along with the paragraph reference.

Education and skills reforms

3. The Government has ambitious education and skills agendas, backed by record investment. In July, the Government announced that schools in England are set to receive their highest ever funding in real terms, totalling almost £60 billion for 2024–25, ensuring that every child gets a world-class education. We want to make sure that all of our children are taught in schools with an extensive knowledge-rich curriculum by well-trained and supported teachers. The Government’s ambition is that 90% of pupils in year 10 will be studying the English Baccalaureate by 2025 (for 2027 examination)–English language and literature, mathematics, the sciences (including computer science), the humanities (geography, history or ancient history) and a language (ancient or modern). These subjects prepare children, after the age of 16, to specialise and succeed in further and higher education or training. A knowledge-rich curriculum equips pupils to contribute to society and to pursue rewarding careers, including in important growth sectors like digital and green jobs.

4. The Government is committed to creating a world-leading skills system which is employer-focused, high-quality and fit for the future. Our reforms are strengthening higher and further education to help more people get good jobs and upskill and retrain throughout their lives; and to improve national productivity and economic growth. Our reforms are backed with an investment of £3.8 billion over the course of this Parliament to strengthen higher and further education. This includes the Government’s announcement in July of an investment of £185 million in 2023–24 and £285 million in 2024–25 to help colleges tackle recruitment and retention issues in high-value technical, vocational, and academic provision. This investment will ensure that education and training align with employer needs and enable individuals to get in to work, progress and develop new skills throughout their lives.

5. We are supporting more people to access and complete these prestigious options. We are increasing opportunities for people to develop higher technical skills through T Levels, apprenticeships, Skills Bootcamps and Higher Technical Qualifications. This will help to plug the current gaps in technical skills we see across the country. As of September 2023, 106 Higher Technical Qualifications are available and a further 66 will be available from September 2024. We have already opened 19 of our network of 21 Institutes of Technology. These institutes will be leaders in the provision of high-quality, higher-level technical education and training across a range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations and industries.

6. We are putting business at the heart of our skills strategy by establishing 38 employer-led Local Skills Improvement Plans across England to shape provision; and using the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to design qualifications in partnership with employers.

7. From 2025, the Lifelong Loan Entitlement will transform access to further and higher education, offering all adults the equivalent of four years’ worth of student loans to use flexibly on quality education and skills training over their lifetime.

8. Our skills reforms provide a ladder of opportunity for everyone to succeed, from primary and secondary schools, colleges and higher education, regardless of their background. Careers empowerment is the first step on the ladder. The Government shares the Committee’s ambition for everyone to access impartial, lifelong careers advice and guidance, regardless of age or circumstance, equipping them with the necessary support to develop skills, advance their careers and boost long-term economic prosperity.

Careers vision: progress and next phase of reforms

9. Alongside the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations, the Government has commissioned two important pieces of work that will inform the next phase of our reforms to the careers system. Professor Sir John Holman’s recommendations for the future careers guidance system, published in December 2022, made a valuable contribution to shaping our future priorities. Ofsted’s thematic review, due to report this autumn, will provide a snapshot of careers provision in schools and colleges and help to inform our priorities and ensure that we continue to base what we do on the very best practice. The Government has three clear priorities for the next phase of our reforms:

  • A single, unified careers system. We want a clear and unified all-age careers system, with fully integrated digital and in-person services, that support individuals to move seamlessly through their skills, training and career journey.
  • Skills, training and work experience. We want to give skills parity of esteem with academic pathways and to have a much stronger focus on dynamic and high-quality skills, training and work experience.
  • Social justice. We believe that everybody, regardless of background, should be able to make the most of their talents. We want to ensure that young people and adults receive the support they need to follow rewarding learning and training pathways which lead to fulfilling careers.

10. The Government is pleased the Committee’s report recognises that we have worked hard to lay the foundations of a coherent careers system, with strong collaboration between educators, training providers and employers. We want to build on these strong foundations and further develop our careers system to be world leading and responsive to key trends, including automation and artificial intelligence, that are shaping the future of work. We are continuing to invest significantly in high-quality careers provision for all ages, including over £90 million in 2023–24. Since the Committee’s inquiry was launched in January 2022, there have been some notable developments.

11. We have strengthened the careers legislative framework. We have extended the careers duty to year 7 pupils, bringing it into line with the Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance and underlining the importance of a structured careers programme that is in place from the beginning of secondary school. We have also extended the careers duty to all types of state-funded secondary school by bringing academy schools and alternative provision academies within the scope of the legislation. We have strengthened provider access legislation, building on the original requirement, introduced in 2018, for schools to ensure that there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access year 8 to 13 pupils for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships. The strengthened legislation, introduced in 2023, requires schools to offer at least six opportunities for pupils to meet providers of technical education or apprenticeships during years 8 to 13. For the first time, we have introduced parameters around the duration and content of these provider encounters so that we can ensure they are of high quality. These changes mean that all pupils in all types of secondary school are legally entitled to independent and impartial careers guidance from year 7 and to more high-quality opportunities to hear direct from providers of technical education or apprenticeships during years 8 to 13.

12. The Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance have become even more embedded at the heart of the careers system, as the Government’s framework for world-class careers provision. Over 90% of secondary schools and colleges now self-report progress using the Compass digital tool.1 There is growing evidence that achievement of the Gatsby Benchmarks increases the career readiness of young people and improves positive post-16 destination outcomes, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2021/22, a survey of 35,000 young people shows their career readiness improves as they progress through school, rising from 45% in year 7 to 67% in year 11 and 74% in year 13. Awareness of apprenticeships doubles from 39% in Year 7 to 81% by year 11. Evidence from three cohorts of year 11 leavers (2016/17–2018/19) suggests that on average, each additional Gatsby Benchmark fully achieved is associated with a 1.1% decline in the rate of young people not sustaining confirmed education, employment or training routes post-16 (non-EET rates). The relationship is twice as strong in the quarter of schools with the most economically disadvantaged intake, as measured by free school meal entitlement. The CEC estimate that, if this was represented across all benchmarks in all schools (which is our aim), such a level of careers guidance would be worth £150m in annual fiscal savings from lifetime costs of those not in education, employment or training (NEET) alone. Evidence also reports that achievement of all 8 benchmarks is associated with a 17% increase in apprenticeship uptake post-16.

13. We welcome the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s current programme of research, open consultation and stakeholder engagement to assess what, if any, refinement to the benchmarks might be needed following significant changes in education and the labour market over the last 10 years. This work is looking at how schools and colleges have implemented the benchmarks, exploring innovations in practice and addressing challenges that still remain. This will help to ensure that the Gatsby Benchmarks continue for the next decade.

14. This progress has been underpinned by our continued investment in the rollout of a strong careers infrastructure across England, delivered by The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC). Over 90% of secondary schools, special schools and colleges are now in a Careers Hub with almost 400 Cornerstone Employers providing local leadership to drive the delivery of employer encounters for young people. There are over 4,000 Enterprise Advisers (senior business volunteers) providing support to secondary schools and colleges in Careers Hubs to help develop their career strategies and employer engagement plans. 87% of institutions in Careers Hubs have received support from an Enterprise Adviser during the 2022/23 academic year.2 As set out in response to recommendation 4, we expect 95% of secondary schools and colleges to be part of the Careers Hub network and all will be offered the opportunity to join a Careers Hub by 2024. This will accelerate progress further. In 2021/22, schools and colleges in well-established Careers Hubs achieved nearly double the amount of Gatsby Benchmarks, an average of 5.6 benchmarks compared to 2.9 benchmarks for those outside of the CEC network.

15. The National Careers Service continues to support individuals to develop their skills and is delivering good progression outcomes and customer satisfaction scores. Overall, more than 1 million jobs and learning outcomes have been achieved since 2015. Independent surveys of samples of National Careers Service customers conducted by Ipsos between May 2022 and April 2023 have shown an increase of five percentage points in customers reporting being ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the online service compared to between May 2021 and April 2022. Additionally, there has been an increase of nine percentage points in customers who had already recommended the National Careers Service website between May 2022 and April 2023, compared to the previous year. This independent survey data was collected prior to recent changes to the branding of the National Careers Service website in July 2023. We continue to introduce improvements to the National Careers Service website, adding new content that has been tested extensively with young people to make sure it appeals to them. We have set out further details in response to recommendation 6.

16. We have set out below the Government’s vision for careers and our response to all 27 of the Committee’s recommendations.

A single, unified careers system

17. The Government wants to continue to improve the coordination of nationally funded careers services, involving partners from education, careers and business, in order to meet the needs of local communities. Careers guidance works best when it is not just an education strategy but an economic strategy with information and advice linked to both the jobs available locally and the industries and sectors of economic growth.

18. Our long-term vision is for a one-stop-shop, where citizens of any age and background can explore their career and training options at any point in their lives. The first step on this journey is a new digital platform, announced by the Prime Minister in July, that will bring everything from T Levels and apprenticeships to Skills Bootcamps and essential skills courses all into one place. From autumn 2023, people and employers will be able to access information about training opportunities through this single online platform, as well as find courses and apprenticeships. This will build on plans we have already announced to work in partnership with UCAS to allow students to explore apprenticeships alongside traditional degrees.

19. This first step will start to resolve the current fragmentation in the careers system that was highlighted by the Committee and by Professor Sir John Holman. We agree with the Committee that we should go beyond simply bringing together the Government’s digital offer. We intend to develop a fully integrated all-age careers system that is built around the needs of all individuals, the user journeys they take and the type of careers support they need.

20. The Government’s all-age careers system will build on the best of existing practice and our understanding of what works through current support mechanisms such as The Careers & Enterprise Company and the National Careers Service. We set out in more detail in response to recommendation 7 our intention to engage over the coming months with stakeholders, including from education, business and the careers sector, to inform how services are best delivered and integrated. This will include improving careers provision for young people not receiving careers advice via their education. The future careers offer will include:

  • an infrastructure support offer to support organisations such as schools and colleges to deliver their statutory and funding responsibilities, in line with the Gatsby Benchmarks.
  • direct delivery of impartial careers information and advice to citizens, which is targeted on skills, training and career pathways.

21. We want to ensure greater alignment with, and between, government funded services that support people into jobs and careers. The Department agrees that Professor Sir John Holman was right to call for a clearer distinction between DfE funded careers services and DWP’s employment support. These services should be complementary to each other. Support provided through our careers services will focus on inspiring citizens to upskill and reskill so that they can progress into higher-skilled, sustainable careers. We will promote skills development for all, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

22. The Government’s approach will incentivise more focus on skills and learning outcomes such as T Levels, Higher Technical Qualifications, apprenticeships and Skills Bootcamps. This will support our ambitions for the Lifelong Loan Entitlement–supporting people to take up training opportunities to progress in their career and help meet the skills needs of the economy.

Skills, training and work experience

23. An increased focus on skills, work experience and knowledge of the workplace is at the heart of the Government’s ambition for a careers service that helps to give technical education and training routes parity of prestige with academic routes.

24. We want young people and their parents to be excited at the prospect of learning technical skills that can lead to a rewarding career. Schools should value pupils’ success equally, whether they accomplish a T Level or three A Levels and whether they progress to study academic degrees, apprenticeships or higher technical qualifications.

25. Strengthened provider access legislation is increasing opportunities for pupils to hear directly from at least six providers of technical education or apprenticeships during their time at secondary school. The Committee is right to highlight the importance of tracking compliance and we will look carefully at the data throughout 2023/24, the first full academic year that the new legislation is in place, taking action to address any non-compliance.

26. We continue to increase outreach of apprenticeships to pupils of all backgrounds through our Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge (ASK) programme. The ASK programme, funded at £3.2 million per year, provides schools and further education colleges across England with a free bespoke package of comprehensive information, advice and guidance to increase awareness of apprenticeships, traineeships and T Levels amongst students, parents, carers, teachers and careers advisers. During the 2022/23 academic year, ASK engaged with over 2,400 schools and colleges. The ASK sessions reached over 625,000 students (as well as over 45,000 parents and carers).

27. Our new ‘Career Starter Apprenticeships’ campaign is raising awareness of apprenticeships which offer great opportunities for those looking for their first role after leaving full-time education. Through the ASK programme, young people can also meet real-life apprentice role models and in 2022/23, 565 ASK sessions involved ambassadors from the Apprentice Ambassador Network. We know that young people resonate with those who know what their lives are like, so we are scaling the voluntary network of employers and apprentices to be engaged with every secondary school and college by March 2026. We are working with CEC and ASK to achieve this.

28. The National Careers Service website currently hosts part of the cross-government skills campaign, the Get the Jump: Skills for Life campaign. This brings together, for the first time and in one place, all the different education and training pathways open to young people at post-16 and post-18. The campaign uses a range of channels to positively influence attitudes, raise awareness of technical education options and support informed choices about careers and skills. We monitor the campaign closely in line with robust key performance indicators to track engagement and awareness. This is supported through regional and national media outreach. The campaigns aim to simplify the skills system for users. Early next year, we will integrate the three existing Skills for Life campaigns that target young people, adults and employers (SME) and host them from a new, single starting point for careers and skills.

29. The UCAS Hub already engages users with many of the choices relevant to their career aspirations, including links on where to go next. From this autumn, all apprenticeship vacancies on our Find an apprenticeship site will be replicated on UCAS to sit alongside degree courses on the Hub, with subject searches displaying all relevant routes. Apprenticeships from level 2 through to degree level will be displayed. Search results will also show affordability, duration of training or study required and likely career outcomes. Presenting apprenticeships alongside undergraduate courses will help applicants to see different routes to a career. Next year, young people will be able to apply for apprenticeships through UCAS alongside undergraduate degree applications, putting technical and vocational education on an equal, accessible footing with academic routes. The Government will work with UCAS to consider how their offer could be integrated with our future plans. As previously described, the Government’s long-term ambition is to create a seamless one-stop-shop where people can compare the full range of occupations, training and education opportunities available to them.

The role of employers

30. Purposeful engagement with employers should be at the heart of any well-structured careers programme. We are now seeing businesses connect with schools and colleges at scale. We are continuing to grow significant partnerships between employers and educators, including teacher encounters with employers and teachers co-designing curriculum resources with employers. Getting Careers Leaders and subject teachers working together with employers means that insights from industry and the business world can be used to enrich curriculum teaching.

31. We welcome the Committee’s interest in the work led by the CEC to connect teachers with business. The Teacher Encounters programme, launched in January 2023, aims to immerse 1,000 subject teachers in industry encounters, to give them insights into the different career pathways available locally and to provide inspiration to link their teaching to the world of work. Over 800 encounters had already taken place by summer 2023.

32. The Department is also investing in a package of direct support for the FE Workforce in 2023–24, to continue to support the FE sector with the recruitment, retention and development of teachers. This includes a national recruitment campaign and Teach in FE service to support prospective FE teachers into jobs. We continue to offer FE teacher training bursaries in priority subjects. Applications for the 2023/24 academic year opened on 7 March, with increased bursary values of up to £29,000 each, tax-free. The latest round of Taking Teaching Further is live, supporting FE providers to recruit and support those with relevant knowledge and industry experience to retrain as FE teachers.

33. Employers can offer insights into the exciting range of career and industry pathways available and help young people to build essential workplace skills. Gaining meaningful experience of the workplace, through opportunities like work experience placements, work visits or work shadowing, can allow a young person to really investigate the industry or sector and understand what working in it would be like. In 2021/22, schools and colleges reported that young people’s experiences of the workplace were back to pre-pandemic levels with 56% of year 11 pupils and 65% of year 13 pupils having an experience of the workplace. We want to go much further and agree with the many witnesses to the inquiry who called for the Department to extend access to work experience. That is why we have made experiences of workplaces a strategic priority for Careers Hubs in 2023–24.

34. We have provided additional funding to deliver three distinct strands of activity: high-quality work experience for up to 15,000 young people with the greatest economic disadvantage, experiences with 20 employers from key growth sectors for up to 5,000 young people with a guarantee of a high-quality mock interview; and virtual experiences for year 7–9 pupils in up to 600 institutions in coastal and rural areas. These strands of work will provide invaluable learning, improve understanding of what good looks like and provide a blueprint for schools, colleges, employers and work experience providers. We set out more detail in response to the Committee’s recommendations on connecting employers with schools.

35. As we continue to scale-up the successful delivery of T Levels, we are committed to ensuring students have access to high quality industry placements–a mandatory component of the technical qualification–to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed for skilled employment, further study, or a higher apprenticeship. It is important that we put in place the right support and infrastructure for employers to ensure there are enough industry placements to meet demand. To address this, we have launched a one-year employer support fund that will provide financial assistance to employers offering placements in the 2023–24 financial year. Up to £12 million has been made available to support employers with the legitimate costs they may incur when hosting placements such as administration, support with training staff who will supervise learners or tangible costs such as PPE equipment or vaccinations.

36. Completing a T Level industry placement is one of the best ways a student can prepare themselves for the world of work, and we recognise the important role employers play in offering high-quality, meaningful industry placements that equip students with the skills, knowledge and behaviours that are in-demand. For this reason, it’s important that we continue to work closely with employers so that they are able to host a placement and enjoy the benefits that it can bring to their business. The Department is engaging directly with employers through its employer engagement teams to provide a strong pipeline of employers for the future, across all sectors and across the country, ready to offer placements. We have also established a T Level employer ambassador network to engage with others in their industries on T Levels and placements. Our communications campaigns are continuing to raise the profile of T Levels and industry placements to an employer audience.

37. Focussing careers advice on skills, training and work experience will lead to more people completing high-quality courses that meet employers’ needs. Ultimately, more individuals will achieve secure, sustained, and well-paid employment. This will help to build the skilled workforce that businesses need, boost productivity and our economy and level up across the country.

Social justice

38. We want to provide the opportunities and social justice needed to ensure equal opportunities for all, regardless of background. Social justice is underpinned by place, privilege and prestige.

39. Social justice is fundamentally rooted in the places people grow up, get their education and find a job. The Government is focussed on delivering skills and training opportunities for every place, creating a sustainable jobs and skills ecosystem to promote opportunity and growth. Disadvantaged areas rank amongst the highest performing in the country for careers provision, following earlier investment in careers programmes to scale up activities in disadvantaged ‘cold spots’ and Opportunity Areas, with a marked improvement in the outcomes for students. Schools serving the most disadvantaged young people are making strong progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks. Those currently in the most disadvantaged quartile progressed from achieving an average of 3.2 to 5.4 benchmarks between 2017/2018 and 2021/22.

40. We want to go further still. All Careers Hubs are now part of an Inclusion Community of Improvement sharing good practice and developing resources with practice centred around special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), Alternative Provision and Pupil Referral Units. This includes engaging with local employer networks to encourage inclusion for SEND and disadvantaged groups, creating meaningful work-based opportunities. There are a number of projects currently being piloted through the Inclusion Community of Improvement such as developing resources for pupils with English as an additional language, mentoring projects focused on looked after children and entrepreneurship workshops for young people with SEND.

41. Training is designed to promote SEND inclusion. There are 38 named SEND specific Enterprise Coordinators in place across 31 Careers Hubs. More widely, 300 Enterprise Coordinators have undertaken masterclass training to gain an understanding of how to support schools, colleges and special schools with young people with SEND. From September 2023, inductions for new Enterprise Coordinators will include an online module introduction to SEND. Follow up learning and development is supported in termly alumni masterclasses for Enterprise Coordinators.

42. In addition, all special schools are able to access provider access legislation support via their local Careers Hub, which provide bespoke SEND specific briefings, frequently asked questions and wider support to ensure inclusive meeting of the legislation designed to promote all technical pathways to young people.

43. This will be complemented by the recent announcement to extend the Supported Internship pilot for pupils with SEND without education, health and care plans cover all areas of the country, creating more opportunities for those furthest away from the labour market.

44. We continue to target additional funding on groups of young people who will benefit the most. This begins at an early age with our careers programme for primary schools targeting 2,250 primary schools, reaching around 600,000 pupils, located in 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs) around the country. The 55 EIAs are covered by 23 Careers Hubs, which will drive the programme locally.

45. In secondary schools, our investment in work experience is targeted on young people with the greatest economic disadvantage and in coastal and rural areas. By increasing opportunities to meet a range of employers, we can help children to formulate ideas about their future and lay the foundation for their careers journey through secondary school, helping to raise their aspirations. The ASK programme also engaged with 36 development schools (schools with students who are vulnerable or disadvantaged) during the 2022/23 academic year, providing a bespoke package of support. For 2023/24 we are increasing the target to 60.

46. The National Careers Service provides free, up to date, impartial information advice and guidance on careers, skills and the labour market in England. It is delivered by over 760 qualified careers advisers. For adults, the National Careers Service offers in-depth support through the local community-based service. This includes intensive, tailored support to the most disadvantaged customers who fall into one or more of the 6 priority groups who have been identified as benefitting most from one-to-one careers advice. It is co-located in a range of community locations including libraries, housing associations and specialist support services.

47. Social justice is also about spreading the privilege of high-quality careers and training to everyone, not just the few. Secondary schools, colleges and other training providers must promote academic and technical routes throughout their communities. This will ensure that no young person is denied because of their background or personal circumstances. This matters most for disadvantaged young people, who receive less support at home to help find the right onward path. Gatsby Benchmark 3 (addressing the needs of each pupil) highlights the role of schools in addressing any barriers to participation and tailoring careers provision to individual needs. In 2021/22, 97% of schools reported that their careers programmes are actively seeking to raise the aspirations of all students.

48. Social justice also means raising the prestige of technical education to be valued equally with academic routes. Vocational and technical courses and training options give learners transferable skills that are valued in the jobs market. We are supporting more people to access and complete these prestigious options. As announced earlier this year we increased the care leaver apprenticeship bursary from £1,000 to £3,000 from August 2023.

49. The Committee and Professor Sir John Holman are right to identify a gap in the current careers system to support young people not attending school or college, for example because they are electively home educated or have become NEET. We are keen to test the best ways to deliver support for these groups so that they can access and complete prestigious technical options. All young people can access ongoing information, and advice from the National Careers Service telephone or webchat channels staffed by locally based careers advisers. CEC is working with Youth Employment UK to develop a suite of online learning modules aimed at reaching vulnerable young people outside of mainstream education. These resources engage young people with a range of self-directed learning activities, high-quality signposting to pathway and sector information and transitions support. This education content has received nearly 10,000 views on Youth Employment UK’s website since the launch in February 2023.

50. The National Careers Service can help adults to access enhanced skills offers including Skills Bootcamps and Free Course for Jobs programmes. The Lifelong Loan Entitlement will unify education finance under a single system. Learning and paying by module is likely to have the greatest positive impact for disadvantaged students. Data shows they are 5.9% percentage points less likely than their peers to have a sustained education destination after 16–18 study. As a traditional three-year degree is not always a viable option, the Lifelong Loan Entitlement will provide an alternative to train, retrain and upskill, alongside other opportunities in the Government’s broader skills offer.

Committee Recommendations

The system of CEIAG

Recommendation 1: The Department should publish an updated Careers Strategy, developed in consultation with other Departments and relevant stakeholders, by the end of 2024. This should include clear, measurable outcomes and dates by which these should be achieved, including targets for increasing the number of schools achieving the Gatsby benchmarks in full. (Paragraph 15)

51. We are pleased that the Committee’s report recognises that the careers landscape has developed significantly and that we have reached a point where the right framework is broadly in place. Since 2010, the Government has put in place strong building blocks with the establishment of the National Careers Service, followed by the transfer of legal responsibility for careers guidance to schools and colleges and the introduction of the CEC. The 2017 Careers Strategy built on these early foundations, particularly through the adoption of the Gatsby Benchmarks, the expansion of the CEC’s remit and improvements to the National Careers Service offer. The testing and piloting of new approaches including networks of Careers Hubs and Enterprise Advisers, increased our understanding of what works in careers provision and was further expanded and built upon through the subsequent Skills for Jobs and Schools White Papers.

52. We agree with the Committee that there is a strong case to set out future plans for the Government’s all-age careers system. We recognise that a clear case has been made for a new Careers Strategy, including throughout the course of the Committee’s inquiry and from a number of key organisations in the careers sector, including the Career Development Policy Group. Our intention is to publish a Strategic Action Plan for Careers in 2024. This approach will allow us, as the Committee suggests, to set out clear measurable outcomes and dates by which these should be achieved. The Action Plan will underline our intention to cement the progress already made across the careers system and further support continuous improvement.

53. The Committee’s conclusions and recommendations, together with Professor Sir John Holman’s recommendations for the future careers system and the forthcoming report of Ofsted’s thematic review of careers provision in schools and colleges, provide an excellent opportunity to shape our plans further. We will consider these findings and engage a wide range of stakeholders to develop the final content of our Strategic Action Plan for Careers.

54. We will set strong objectives to continue to increase the number of schools achieving the Gatsby Benchmarks in full. Our Strategic Action Plan for Careers will be based around the three priorities of a single, unified careers system; skills, training and work experience and social justice. The Action Plan will continue to emphasise the importance of a balance of engagement with the Government’s careers offer, the quality of experience for young people and Gatsby Benchmark progress.

55. We believe setting additional numerical targets for Gatsby Benchmark achievement risks encouraging a tick-box approach. A key strength of the Gatsby Benchmarks is that they are a self-improvement tool and this has led to steady year on year progress in the average number of benchmarks achieved, with data showing that average Gatsby Benchmark achievement across the system up from 1.8 to 4.9 in 5 years. While we expect 95% of schools and colleges to be part of a Careers Hub by 2024, our funded careers support is not yet in place everywhere. Of course, Government wants to encourage continued overall progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks. That is why, in line with Professor Sir John Holman’s recommendation, we are piloting the use of peer and expert reviews. However, the Government is clear about the importance of a careers framework built on world class standards, with flexibility around how schools and colleges work towards achieving those standards.

56. The Government’s view is that accountability through Ofsted and data on outcomes for young people are good barometers of progress. Ofsted looks at how schools use the Gatsby Benchmarks to develop and improve careers provision with this forming part of the grade descriptors for a ‘good’ judgement for personal development in Ofsted’s school inspection handbook. Ofsted’s current review of careers guidance underlines the inspectorate’s interest in this important area.

57. Work is underway to look at the destinations of young people in relation to the quality of careers education and guidance that they are receiving. As set out in the introduction, there is a positive correlation between careers education, as measured by Gatsby Benchmark achievement, and young people going into positive destinations. We will set out in our Strategic Action Plan for Careers how we will continue to build our evidence base around outcomes for young people as an effective way of demonstrating the impact of the Gatsby Benchmarks.

Recommendation 2: High-quality CEIAG provision is an essential part of pupils’ personal development and should be a core part of the Ofsted framework. The Department must ensure that Ofsted is upholding a strong focus on CEIAG provision when inspecting schools, in particular looking at schools’ achievement of the Gatsby benchmarks. (Paragraph 16)

58. The Department agrees that high-quality careers provision plays a key role in a pupil’s personal development. Ofsted has an important role to play in ensuring schools and colleges provide high-quality careers guidance. Following the 2017 Careers Strategy, the Department has worked with Ofsted over the last five years to strengthen Ofsted’s inspection regime on careers significantly. The 2019 Education Inspection Framework increased the prominence of CEIAG, particularly in the personal development judgement which references the Gatsby Benchmarks. Careers is also inspected in the quality of education and leadership and management judgements in full inspections.

59. Ofsted updated its school inspection handbook for September 2021 to strengthen the wording on inspections and make reporting on careers a requirement. On all school inspections, inspectors assess the quality of careers provision and how well it benefits pupils in choosing and deciding their next steps. As set out in the school inspection handbook, this includes looking at the school’s use of the Gatsby Benchmarks, the quality of careers advice, meaningful work experience and the requirements of section 42B of the Education Act 1997 (provider access legislation). If a school is not meeting the requirements of section 42B of the Education Act 1997, this will always be stated in the inspection report.

60. As set out in response to recommendation 1, Ofsted already takes into account the school’s use of the Gatsby Benchmarks when assessing careers provision. On full inspections, this means that inspectors will routinely look for evidence that the school is providing good careers guidance and will consider their use of the Gatsby Benchmarks. Schools’ achievement of the benchmarks will be relevant to inspectors’ consideration when making an evaluative statement on the quality of careers provision in the inspection report.

61. To receive a more in-depth assessment of the quality of careers guidance in schools and further education and skills providers, as set out in response to recommendation 1, the Department asked Ofsted to carry out a thematic review of careers guidance for young people. The last Ofsted thematic review of careers was in 2013. The current review is due to be published in autumn 2023 and will assess the quality of careers guidance and identify strengths and weaknesses in careers provision. The Department and Ofsted will work together to consider the findings and any implications of the report. The findings will also be used by Ofsted to shape future inspection training practice.

62. We will set out the Department’s next steps on quality and accountability in the Strategic Action Plan for Careers.

Recommendation 3: The Department should update its statutory guidance to make reporting through the Compass tool compulsory for all secondary schools and colleges, and work with the Careers and Enterprise Company to ensure that they are providing the support and resources needed to do this. (Paragraph 17)

63. The Department is committed to improving the quality and consistency of careers provision across the country and institution assessment is a critical part of this. High-quality digital support is an important part of the careers support that we are rolling out across England, alongside the networks of Careers Hubs and Enterprise Advisers and Careers Leader training.

64. 90% of secondary schools and colleges self-report progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks using a Compass evaluation. The CEC has worked with schools to upgrade to Compass+ which enables tracking of Gatsby Benchmark achievement at an individual pupil level. 3,172 secondary schools are now using Compass+3, which allows Careers Leaders to manage their careers programme, to target support and collect student feedback systematically.

65. The role of Compass in enabling schools and colleges to self-report progress supports the use of the Gatsby Benchmarks to promote continuous improvement. The Gatsby Benchmarks are not designed as an accountability framework and therefore we want to avoid mandating the use of Compass as a reporting tool.

66. The Department agrees that we should update our careers statutory guidance on this issue. We will set a clear expectation that all secondary schools and colleges should self-report progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks at least once during every academic year. We will recommend the Compass+ tool as the widely tried and tested, free to use digital support in place to do this. We will also recommend the Future Skills Questionnaire as a free to use digital asset to further enable institutions to assess the effectiveness of their careers programmes on young people. We will include these messages in the next planned update to our careers statutory guidance in spring 2024.

The organisations delivering CEIAG

Recommendation 4: The Department should set an objective for the Careers and Enterprise Company to ensure that 100% of schools and colleges are part of Careers Hubs by the end of 2024, and must provide the CEC with the appropriate resources and funding to achieve this. (Paragraph 29)

67. Careers Hubs were launched in September 2018, following the Government’s announcement in the 2017 Careers Strategy that schools and colleges required more support to develop all aspects of their careers programmes. Since then, Careers Hubs have been a key driver of system change, supporting secondary schools and colleges to use the Gatsby Benchmarks to drive progress in careers education, improving skills and opportunities for young people.

68. The Careers Hub network has also grown rapidly, from 1,322 secondary schools, special schools and colleges in September 2020 to 4,621 now4, with the aim of increasing to 4,750 (95%) by August 2024. Careers Hubs create stronger collaboration and partnerships in local areas and evidence shows they are proving to be an effective mechanism for improving careers education. Secondary schools and colleges in well-established Careers Hubs achieve nearly double the amount of Gatsby Benchmarks as those not engaged (5.6 vs 2.9 in 2021/22). The longer Careers Hubs work with schools and colleges, the more breadth and depth of exposure students have to employers, for example 81% of education institutions in well-established Careers Hubs involved 10 or more businesses in careers activity, compared to 48% for schools and colleges not engaged.

69. The Department has set a key performance indicator in the CEC’s 2023–24 grant funding agreement for 95% of institutions to be in a Careers Hub by August 2024. All secondary schools and colleges not already in a Careers Hub have now been invited to join and have been offered support through the ‘Hub Activation Stage’ to encourage them to do so. This approach reflects our aspiration for all secondary schools and colleges in England to be encouraged to be part of a Careers Hub.

70. As the network of Careers Hubs expands further, we will continue to work with CEC to identify what more can be done to ensure that all schools and colleges are able to benefit from being part of a Careers Hub.

Recommendation 5: The Department should update its statutory guidance to suggest an appropriate proportion of time that Careers Leaders should be given to fulfil their role and should require schools and colleges to publish information on the time they have allocated to the role on their website. It should ensure that the Careers and Enterprise Company is collecting and publishing data from schools and colleges on the proportion of time that Careers Leaders have to fulfil their role and whether Careers Leaders feel this is sufficient. (Paragraph 30)

71. The careers statutory guidance sets out that every school and college should appoint a named person to the Careers Leader role: a dedicated professional who is a member of the senior leadership team, or works directly with them, and who is responsible and accountable for the delivery of the school or college careers programme. The statutory guidance ‘urges senior leaders to back their careers team, especially their Careers Leader’ (p8) who should have ‘commitment and backing from their senior leadership team, including protected time that enables the Careers Leader to carry out the role effectively’ (p11).

72. We know there are varied approaches to careers leadership, depending on the shape and size of the institution, and approaches adopted to deliver strategic careers leadership alongside other key priorities. There is a risk that by quantifying an appropriate proportion of time we are creating additional pressure on resources and taking the focus away from other school or college priorities. Conversely it could lead to a reduction in the time already dedicated to careers, for example where a Careers Leader is doing more than the proposed amount. A further risk is that collection and publication of data on the time dedicated to the Career Leader role would prove burdensome and would not be a useful indicator of the quality of support provided by Careers Leaders, leading to a negative impact on the quality of careers provision in the institution.

73. We are therefore not persuaded that the Department should suggest an appropriate proportion of time Careers Leaders should spend on their role. Our preferred approach is to continue to support senior leadership and influence institutional approaches to supporting Careers Leaders, including encouraging schools and colleges to have named governors who take strategic interest in careers education. We fund CEC to provide training and resources to governors to help them better understand the value of careers leadership, the careers education landscape and to effectively support and challenge their Careers Leaders to increase their impact on student progress and development.

74. We also support Careers Leaders to carry out their role effectively by funding training and matching them to Enterprise Advisers, who can support them to link to the local labour market and provide access to the full range of the careers infrastructure. Research shows that those schools (and colleges) with a trained Careers Leader achieve more Gatsby Benchmarks compared to those that have not completed the training.

Recommendation 6: The Department should either work with DWP to ensure that the National Careers Service website has content appropriate and accessible to young people under 18 or create an alternative to the National Careers Service website which is accessible to and useful to young people. In the meantime, it should update the National Careers Service website to provide links to suggested websites which are more appropriate for those aged under 18. (Paragraph 38)

75. The Department agrees with the Committee that there is more to be done to make the National Careers Service website more accessible and to increase content that is more appropriate to young people. We are in the process of doing just that.

76. Extensive user research with young people has found that they would like the careers digital landscape to be less fragmented and confusing and they would like more engaging content and more support to understand alternative careers routes, including technical routes as well as support to find and validate information.

77. To ensure it is easier for people to navigate and source information and advice on careers and opportunities, we are launching the single starting point for careers and skills in autumn 2023. This will be a digital ‘front door’ to help young people (and others) find the trusted impartial careers and skills information that they need. Behind the front door will be the information that we know young people are seeking, such as ‘options after leaving school and education,’ ‘help with careers and applications’ and ‘explore different careers.’ User testing of the prototype has revealed that young people found it useful and would return to it in future.

78. In addition to this, a new and inspiring look and feel to the National Careers Service website (upon which the single starting point for careers and skills will be built) has recently been launched, introducing both colour and images to the site. The changes aim to increase user engagement, brand awareness and trust. The refreshed website has ensured that branding is consistent with the offline, locally based community service. This will help prevent the current perceived fragmentation. Alongside this, we are looking to embed new content including videos and ‘real stories’ within the Service’s job profiles to show the breadth of different routes into a specific job role as well as encourage more exploration of the job profiles. This new content will be delivered by summer 2024.

79. In order to help users find the information they need, we are improving the search functionality of the National Careers Service website. Improvements to the job filters function (planned for summer 2024) will enable young people to narrow down their exploration of job roles to allow them to search based on factors such as specific skills. Recent improvements to the Find a Course page have made it easier for users to search for courses in their local area. We are making it easier for providers to add additional course types, such as Skills Bootcamps and Higher Technical Qualifications so that they can be accessed through Find a Course (delivered in spring 2024). This also supports young people’s understanding of alternative career routes, including technical routes.

80. Supporting young people in understanding alternative career routes is essential in our future development of the website. We are looking to use the Skills Taxonomy currently being developed by the Unit for Future Skills, in combination with other data sources, to enable better links between qualifications, skills and jobs. This will help ensure that young people have access to the most up-to-date, UK-specific labour market information on alternative careers routes.

81. Development of the online service is supported by significant user research and components are tested to make sure they work with a broad range of browsers and devices. We know that young people are more likely to use their mobile phones than other devices to find online information about careers. Design of the website takes a ‘mobile-first’ approach which ensures that all content is optimised for access on a mobile device.

Recommendation 7: The Department should follow the recommendation set by Professor Sir John Holman to bring the existing delivery bodies under a single strategic umbrella function, sharing a common strategic framework and coordinating local services. We ask the Minister to update us on his planned reforms in this area and provide us with a timeline for implementing them. We recommend that these should go further than simply bringing together websites: the Department should take an in-depth look at the governance and functions of the different bodies to ensure that their work is fully aligned and that any areas of overlap are addressed, coordinating with other Government Departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions. (Paragraph 44)

82. The Department agrees with the Committee and Professor Sir John Holman that we have more to do to bring greater coherence between publicly funded careers services, across all ages. Our ambition is to develop an all-age careers system, unified under a single strategic framework, that helps to address the fragmentation in careers services identified by the Committee. We do not have firm views yet on what this will look like but we want to start exploring the issue further. We want to engage extensively with stakeholders to inform how services and support are best delivered in the longer term, including improving careers provision for young people who are not receiving careers guidance via their education. We are therefore planning to undertake some stakeholder and early market engagement, beginning in autumn 2023, to inform our future approach to ensure a coherent and deliverable all-age careers system which provides world class support.

83. Given the existing range of delivery mechanisms for careers education, information advice and guidance, it will inevitably take time to develop a unified careers system. We want to do this in a way that does not disrupt current delivery and progress. We are working towards developing greater alignment and collaboration between existing services to promote better join up.

84. As set out in response to recommendation 6, our first step is the single digital front door to access government information on careers and skills. We will create a comprehensive gateway for post-16 options. From autumn 2023 young people, learners, parents and employers will be able to use this single digital front door access careers information and skills training and course options - including apprenticeships - to suit them. This simplifies user journeys and reduces system complexity for our end users.

85. These developments are part of our broader vision to integrate services that direct people through education towards the labour market. Our goal is to build digital and in-person services which form a unified careers system which best enables citizens to explore and develop their careers, skills and training options at any point in their lives.

86. Commitments within our current delivery partners’ contracts and funding agreements are already helping to foster greater join-up between current government funded careers services. For example, the CEC and National Careers Service have increasingly worked jointly with industry representatives to promote understanding of the careers system and the ways in which employers can engage. We are continuing to work with DWP to develop greater alignment and cohesion with services delivered by Jobcentre Plus, for both young people and adults.

87. In developing a unified careers system, it is vital that nationally funded services are coordinated locally. We are committed to working with the sector to determine how the careers system can respond to the levelling up agenda and how our nationally funded programmes respond to local need and are set up to facilitate the coordination of local partners with a stake in careers provision. For young people specifically, we continue to expect Careers Hubs to play an important role in facilitating local coordination of support for young people and to facilitate engagement with employers.

88. We have put in place arrangements such as a cross-government forum on Youth Skills for Life and Work which will play an important role in coordinating activity to help ensure young people are signposted to opportunities available to them and can access high quality skills training. In our Strategic Action Plan for Careers, we will provide more details of the process and timeline for consolidating careers services to improve and simplify the user journey. This will include details of future governance arrangements.

Recommendation 8: The Department should pilot a programme of funding careers advisers directly through the CEC, rather than requiring schools and colleges to buy in this support from their existing budgets. (Paragraph 54)

89. The Department has focussed on building leadership capacity for careers education by requiring schools to name a Careers Leader and continuing to invest in the CEC to support Careers Leaders through training, tools, resources and Careers Hubs.

90. The Department does not agree with the Committee that it is appropriate to ringfence funding in the way suggested for careers advisers. Schools and colleges are best placed to determine their own arrangements for working with careers advisers who are already professionally trained and fulfil a different role to Careers Leaders. Schools and colleges have flexibility to determine their own model, for example commissioning support from an external careers organisation or opting to employ an in-house careers adviser. The Department provides funding for careers guidance through existing budget allocations which, as described earlier, will be at the highest ever level in real terms from 2023–24.

91. While careers advisers can support the delivery of a number of the Gatsby Benchmarks, the delivery of benchmark 8 (personal guidance) is unique in requiring a careers adviser, trained to an appropriate level. This is one of the strongest performing benchmarks, demonstrating that schools and colleges are already committed to investing in careers advisers. In 2021/22, 85% of schools reported that most students (76%+) had a personal guidance interview by the end of Year 11 (up from 80% the previous year). 66% of schools provided an additional interview by the end of Year 13 (up from 58% the previous year).

92. There is a range of support available to help schools and colleges to ensure the professional careers advice they buy in has maximum impact and represents value for money. Between 2018 and 2021, we funded the CEC to develop new, cost-effective models of personal guidance. The resulting case studies showcase the affordable and successful delivery of the personal guidance benchmark. We continue to provide training and support to Careers Leaders in schools and colleges, which in turn supports them to become better commissioners of careers professionals. In addition to the careers advice offered through their school or college, young people in schools and colleges can also access careers information, advice and guidance through the National Careers Service which is accessible for those aged 13+. Young people can access web chat and one to one guidance via the phone service.

Recommendation 9: To target those most in need of improvement, we recommend that the Department should make one-off developmental funding available to schools and colleges who have the lowest record of achieving the Gatsby benchmarks to support them to improve their CEIAG provision, setting out clear objectives and conditions of receiving this funding. (Paragraph 55)

93. Government funded careers support is focussed on maximising impact through school and college engagement, leadership, commitment and partnership. Evidence shows that the longer schools and colleges engage with the Department’s funded careers offer, the better they perform against the Gatsby Benchmarks. Schools with more economically disadvantaged students have higher levels of engagement, faster progress and better performance.

94. A key lever for improvement is the CEC’s funded Careers Leader training programme which enables Careers Leaders to develop high quality and impactful strategic careers programmes tailored to their pupils’ needs. At a regional level, Careers Hubs are providing greater levels of support to schools and colleges that require more improvement. This includes directing experiences of the workplace to schools and colleges, focussed support from the Careers Hub employer group, a greater level of support on provider access legislation where required and signposting and supporting the uptake of Careers Leader training.

95. We share the Committee’s view that we should drive improvement in those schools and colleges making slower progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks. However, we must be careful not to introduce a model that rewards underachievement. Our approach is to encourage greater engagement from those schools and colleges currently least engaged with the national offer.

96. Schools and colleges track their careers provision against the Gatsby Benchmarks using Compass, a digital tool used by Careers Leaders. The CEC collate and present progress annually against the benchmarks through insight briefings. We are working with the CEC to ensure that they actively identify poorer performing schools and colleges, identify barriers and deliver focused support through the Careers Hub network. This includes support from a Hub Lead and dedicated Enterprise Coordinators and Enterprise Advisers who can review Compass self-assessment data to identify where there are gaps in provision. They can draw on the collaboration, good practice, local careers programmes and targeted projects, available through the Careers Hubs, to support improvements. Every school and college is offered a fully funded Careers Leader training course with data showing that those completing the training achieve more benchmarks on average.

Recommendation 10: The Department should include support for CEIAG provision in the package available to education investment areas and priority education investment areas and use this to develop pilots in these areas to explore what works best. (Paragraph 56)

97. The Department is committed to supporting the achievement of better educational outcomes, particularly in those areas with weakest educational attainment. The range of support packages for the 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs) and 24 Priority Education Investment Areas (PEIAs) is driving school improvement and improved pupil outcomes in primary and secondary schools. Funding for the range of packages–such as increasing trust capacity, Wi-Fi connectivity through Connect the Classroom, Levelling Up Premium and support for family hubs–is agreed separately for each policy area.

98. We agree that it is important to support those schools with weakest educational attainment to provide excellent careers provision. However, EIAs only cover one-third of local authorities in England where educational outcomes are currently weakest and other local authorities containing existing place-based interventions. By supporting the CEC to reach all secondary schools with poor educational outcomes, the Department can target support for disadvantaged groups across the country, in response to evidence that they are less likely to receive careers information, advice and guidance than their peers.

99. As set out in the introduction, through the work of the CEC, disadvantaged areas now rank amongst the highest performing in the country for careers provision, following earlier investment in careers programmes to scale up activities in disadvantaged ‘cold spots’. There is evidence of a link between Gatsby Benchmark achievement and the likelihood of a young person becoming NEET and this is twice as strong in disadvantaged schools.

100. CEC is prioritising targeting interventions for disadvantaged young people on free school meals (FSM) and has key performance indicators which are focussed on faster progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks for educational institutions with high rates of FSM. The CEC is also supporting a pilot on work experience in rural and coastal areas as well as more focussed support for independent training providers (ITPs). Such additional support for ITPs is important given 70% of apprenticeships in England are supported by ITP members of Association of Employment and Learning Providers and the proportion of apprenticeship starters from disadvantaged backgrounds accounted for 22% of all starts (84,000) in 2017/18. It is therefore the Department’s view that focusing on improving careers provision by supporting disadvantaged pupils across the country is the best way to ensure strong careers provision.

101. The Department is also aware of other pilots targeting those with disadvantage and will consider their scalability upon completion. For example, the CEC is piloting its Effective Transition Fund which will provide insights into the most effective interventions and policy solutions which help disadvantaged young people transition from education into work, training or further education. In addition, the Department is embarking on the second phase of Levelling-up Employment and Skills Pathfinders, a joint initiative between DWP and DfE. These aim to understand access to skills opportunities bringing a greater alignment to the delivery of employment and skills interventions at a local level to ensure more jobseekers access suitable skills training at the right point in their journey, leading to sustained employment and career progression opportunities. The findings and insights from these pilots will inform continuous improvement and innovation to support people into skills training provision or employment.

CEIAG in primary schools

Recommendation 11: The Department should evaluate the success of its careers programme for primary schools after its first year, and if it has been shown to have a positive impact, scale it up to cover all areas of England. In doing so the Department should consider working with the full range of providers who have demonstrated their ability to provide effective programmes in this space. (Paragraph 66)

102. Linked to recommendation 10, the DfE-funded careers programme for primary schools is focused on areas of disadvantage. The three-year programme is being rolled out to 55 Education Investment Areas across the country, covered by 23 Careers Hubs who will run the programme locally. A robust evaluation framework is in place for this programme, including data collection from pupils and teachers in 2,250 schools, data from parents and employers. The first interim evaluation, due in 2024, and the final evaluation report, due in summer 2025, will inform future policy.

103. Our approach to delivery is based on engaging with providers whose models have proved effective. The current programme design is based on evidence from a 2019/20 DfE pilot which worked with 15 providers. The programme also engages a range of providers including Teach First, Skills Builder, National Literacy Trust, PSHE Association and Primary Futures.

Recommendation 12: Additionally, the Department should work with the Gatsby Foundation to develop a tailored set of benchmarks for careers education in primary schools and provide guidance and resources through the Careers and Enterprise Company to support schools to meet them. (Paragraph 67)

104. The Department agrees that guidance and resources are important to support primary schools with their careers provision. We recognise that a number of witnesses to the inquiry suggested that a framework equivalent to the Gatsby Benchmarks would be helpful for primary schools.

105. Recognising that careers provision in primary schools is very different to the structured programme we expect to see in secondary education, the Department funded the 2018 ‘What Works’ report on primary careers education. In addition to the 2019/20 pilot, this led to the development and testing of six principles of career-related learning in primary schools.

106. This resulted in the establishment of the Primary Platform, a digital hub of tools, guidance and a wide range of resources, mapped to the six principles and the Skills Builder Framework. The Platform currently enables self-assessment through the completion of an audit tool, allowing educators to track and evaluate their school’s provision against the six principles.

107. The Department envisages a role in continuing to bring together evidence of what works and building on the Primary Platform to further support teachers with the best tailored guidance, support and resources for the sector.

Embedding careers into the curriculum

Recommendation 13: The Department should launch a consultation on how best to incorporate careers education into different levels of teacher training, including for primary school teachers, looking at every level including initial teacher training and Early Career Frameworks, National Professional Qualifications and CPD. (Paragraph 80)

108. The teacher development frameworks form a ‘golden-thread’ of training and support through a teacher’s entire career and are carefully designed to support teacher development in core areas that make the most difference to the quality of teaching in the classroom and to professional practice. The ‘golden-thread’ should be supplemented by a variety of professional development provided by schools, trusts, subject associations, charities, curriculum hubs, Oak and private training organisations. The CEC is working alongside a number of these organisations to develop specific careers education content. Teaching School Hubs can signpost schools to high-quality training programmes in their area, including helping teachers to understand where they can access further support from other DfE-funded hubs, such as behaviour and subject hubs. Alongside this, we will explore opportunities to support National Professional Qualifications (NPQ) training providers to consider how they use high-quality examples of careers education in delivering the relevant NPQ frameworks.

109. Early work with the CEC to develop high-quality CPD includes the launch of an online teacher development course to support the development of careers awareness amongst subject teachers. The first module focuses on awareness and pathways for subject teachers. The second module, due for release in October 2023, will focus on effective planning for careers in the curriculum. Careers Hubs across the country have been helping to deliver teacher encounters with industry, as set out in more detail in response to recommendation 14.

110. The Department’s approach is supporting curriculum development and helping teachers to build knowledge of different pathways and opportunities related to their subject. For example, Outwood Grange Academies Trust introduced a ‘FutureFIT’ programme to secondary schools. Speakers from industry and higher education, introductory videos and digital resources are all utilised to show how curriculum subjects are used in a large range of different industries and employment roles. Academies Enterprise Trust has worked in partnership with Pfizer to bring the chemistry curriculum to life by exploring the drug development process.

111. Achievement of Gatsby Benchmark 4 (linking curriculum learning to careers) improved across every type of school and college from 2020/21 to 2021/22. 91% of post-16 providers reported most students had curriculum-related learning in maths; 93% in English, both double 2018/19 levels. 79% of special and alternative provision schools reported most students had curriculum-related learning in maths; 80% in English, both up on last year. Mainstream schools also reported increases. We plan to continue with our focus on CPD for teachers, based on clear evidence of impact.

Recommendation 14: There is a clear need to explore ways in which teachers can gain familiarity with the world of work in sectors relevant to the subjects they teach, in order to be able to pass this knowledge on to their pupils. We look forward to hearing more details of the Department’s upcoming pilot to connect teachers with businesses: the Department should use this opportunity to provide more teachers with experience of modern workplaces across a range of sectors. (Paragraph 81)

112. The Teacher Encounters programme, delivered through the CEC, provides opportunities for teachers to engage directly with employers to see and learn about the different career pathways relevant to their subjects and to observe how their subject is applied practically in business. Teacher encounters can take many forms, from two hours to multiple days, face-to-face, virtual or a mix of both.

113. Two test pilots took place in 2021/22 in Oxfordshire and Berkshire with evidence of positive impact. There was strong support among teachers, citing that the encounters help improve understanding of the range of jobs and routes into the workplace along with better insight into linking classroom learning to workplace skills.

114. Building on this early promise, the Department has invested, through the CEC, in a pilot year of teacher encounters, launched in January 2023 and delivered by Careers Hubs. Over 800 teacher encounters had taken place by the end of the 2022/23 academic year with a further 400 planned for delivery in September and October. 174 employers have been involved in supporting teachers to better understand their industries, skills gaps, recruitment practices and pathways and opportunities available. Careers Hubs are learning from early evidence from the pilot year to refine and improve activity. Curriculum resources developed as a result of the encounters are being collated and reviewed for a potential wider reach.

115. Teachers and employers have been very positive about their involvement in this work and will feed into the evaluation, due for completion in autumn 2023. We will carefully consider the evidence from this programme to inform future policy.

116. The Department has introduced the Taking Teaching Further programme. This has supported around 1,000 industry professionals to train as FE teachers since 2018, bringing those with relevant knowledge and industry experience into our colleges. The latest round of Taking Teaching Further is live, supporting FE providers to recruit and support industry professionals to retrain as FE teachers by providing up to £18,200 per recruit to cover the costs of a teaching qualification, mentoring support, and a reduced teaching timetable. We are also piloting a new £6,000 incentive for those teaching in some of the most hard-to-fill subject areas (digital; construction; engineering/manufacturing; and maths).

117. We are working with the sector to build the capacity of the further education workforce and develop dual professionalism in FE teaching by supporting providers to engage in a sustainable, two-way exchange with industry, fostering long-lasting networks with employers.

118. The £165m Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) provides investment in the technical skills system to better support the needs of the local labour market and wider economy. This allows providers to bid for funding to support workforce industry exchange activities - including industry placements for FE teachers–which are in line with Local Skills Improvement Plan priorities.

Recommendation 15: In the Department’s work to develop model curricula, it must engage with CEIAG professionals and employer representatives to ensure that links to relevant career paths and examples from the world of work are incorporated. (Paragraph 82)

119. The Department wants to support teachers to use industry and career pathways as a context for teaching the National Curriculum, in line with Gatsby Benchmark 4 (linking curriculum learning to careers). This benchmark must not detract from the National Curriculum being taught well but, if delivered effectively, will enhance pupils’ passion for their subjects with an understanding of rewarding career opportunities that will open up through acquisition of subject knowledge.

120. The Department does not believe that its curriculum materials, including model curricula, should prescribe how teachers seek to achieve the aims of Gatsby Benchmark 4. The Department’s model curricula are non-statutory pieces of guidance which support teachers to sequence and structure the National Curriculum subject content for a limited number of subjects and to teach key concepts effectively, which ultimately prepares pupils with the knowledge and skills they need to progress into further education and employment. Oak national academy is taking account of this work as it produces curriculum sequences, units of learning and full sets of lessons across all National Curriculum subjects which will exemplify good curriculum design and help reduce teacher workload, whilst remaining entirely optional to use. It is for teachers to determine how to plan lessons and lesson context relevant to their pupils, drawing on these materials as they see fit. To support teachers to link careers to the curriculum effectively, however, guidance is available via the CEC.

121. The CEC has worked in partnership with employers and Multi-Academy Trusts to co-design curriculum resources. For example, STAR Academies and Causeway, in collaboration with subject experts, produced a set of 36 high-quality, engaging lesson plans linking a range of careers to specific curriculum points across all National Curriculum subjects. Whether it be introducing the role of an environmental scientist in a Key Stage 4 chemistry lesson on climate change or a political speechwriter in a Key Stage 4 English lesson on selecting and organising ideas and facts, the approach is impactful but proportionate–showcasing the application of a specific curriculum point in a real job role. The Department wants to continue to develop high quality resources, including through Teaching School Hubs, curriculum hubs, trusts and the Oak national academy.

Connecting employers with schools

Recommendation 16: The Department should consult on the administrative requirements for schools and employers to provide work experience and consider whether any requirements can be removed or lightened without compromising the safety and wellbeing of pupils. It must work with the Careers and Enterprise Company to ensure that these requirements are communicated clearly to schools and employers, along with clarity on what is not required. (Paragraph 100)

122. We agree with the Committee that access to work experience should be as straightforward as possible. We will look at what more we can do to address barriers to organising work experience. Careers Hubs have an important role to play in facilitating and coordinating activity between schools, colleges and employers that is needed to deliver effective work experience placements. We have asked the CEC to work through the Careers Hubs to help to identify and remove barriers. Careers Hubs are supporting schools by clarifying expectations and enhancing local signposting. They are providing practical guidance to help streamline and simplify requirements. This includes the provision of standardised templates and procedures to meet safeguarding, health and safety and duty of care requirements more easily and efficiently whilst maintaining necessary protective standards.

123. There is ongoing work to identify and tackle barriers for employers, for example the sequencing of work experience placements. CEC is working with key growth sector bodies to ensure placements are aligned with skills gaps and future skills needs.

Recommendation 17: The goals set out in the Gatsby benchmark of experiences of the workplace provide a useful framework for schools to follow, but schools must ensure that opportunities are of high quality and tailored to pupils’ individual needs and aspirations rather than following a ‘tick-box’ approach to organising placements. The Department should work with the Careers and Enterprise Company to develop a toolkit setting out what constitutes meaningful work experience to count towards the Gatsby benchmark objectives and ensure that this is shared with Careers Leaders in schools and colleges. (Paragraph 101)

124. Influenced by the evidence provided to the Committee, the Department has asked the CEC to develop and deliver an Experiences of the Workplace strategy. We want to promote a flexible range of workplace experiences beyond traditional placements that help pupils to build knowledge of the workplace, for example job shadowing, workplace visits, working on ‘employer briefs’, and virtual experiences with employers. We agree with the Committee that it is important to set out what constitutes meaningful, high-quality work experience. The CEC is building a national quality framework supported by a dedicated experiences of the workplace resource hub containing best practice resources and toolkits, created in collaboration with employers, sector bodies and education.

125. Continuous improvement is supported through a new Careers Impact System which has a specific focus on looking at school’s approaches to achieving Gatsby Benchmark 6 (experiences of workplaces). The CEC has worked with employers and developed ‘Employer Standards’, a digital benchmarking framework and tool that enables employers to self-assess and continuously improve their engagement with education including providing high-quality experiences of the workplace.

Recommendation 18: The Department should develop a national platform for work experience placements, which includes virtual opportunities, allowing schools and employers to collaborate over finding and organising placements. It should work with the Careers and Enterprise Company to ensure that Careers Hubs are promoting work experience opportunities and offering the right support to schools. (Paragraph 102)

126. We agree with the Committee that we can do more to scope the role of digital solutions. The CEC’s provider directory is a tool for Careers Leaders, Careers Hub leads, Enterprise Coordinators, and education leaders to find and contact delivery organisations who can help achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks, including benchmark 6. Organisations in the directory undergo a robust quality assurance process to ensure they can match the requirements of each benchmark, including experiences of workplaces. We have commissioned CEC to review and make recommendations for any enhancements and improvements to the existing national digital infrastructure in England for employers (Employer Standards) and schools (Compass+) which may meaningfully enhance the Careers Hub offer on experiences of the workplace.

127. We agree with the Committee that there is potential for an online platform that promotes a range of work experience placements both locally and across the country. A national platform for work experience placements does have potential to be designed to have a broader reach, that could go beyond supporting schools and colleges to meet benchmark 6. It could also support other government work-based programmes, such as T Levels, traineeships and supported internships. Providing a one-stop-shop for all types of work placement programmes and streamlining the matching process for employers and education providers, could help secure employer engagement to support the government’s reforms to technical education and skills.

128. Creating a national platform is a longer-term aspiration that will require extensive engagement with stakeholders, an understanding of what is already in place and an assessment of the benefits and challenges of a centrally coordinated system. As part of the work to develop our Strategic Action Plan for Careers, we will consider how a digital solution could best support work experience, including the feasibility of including a national platform for work experience placements as part of the single starting point.

129. We will ensure that all of the learning from the Experiences of the Workplace strategy is disseminated widely. In addition to the resource hub, we will continue to share good practice through Careers Hubs, Careers Leaders and other careers and education networks. At our next planned spring 2024 review of the careers statutory guidance and each subsequent annual update, we will consider how we can continue to strengthen the content on work experience, setting clear expectations for schools and colleges.

Recommendation 19: The Department should directly track compliance with the new provider access legislation and ensure that the appropriate action, as set out in the statutory guidance, is taken when schools are failing to comply. We recognise that Ofsted is not awarding “outstanding” grades to schools not complying with the Baker Clause—it must now ensure that this is being applied consistently across all schools to the new provider access legislation. (Paragraph 114)

130. The strengthened provider access legislation, which came into force on 1 January 2023, is an important means of ensuring that young people understand all available routes at key transition points. By meeting providers of apprenticeships and wider technical education options such as T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications, young people can make informed choices about their next step.

131. The Department agrees that it is important to monitor the impact of the provider access legislation. We are working with the CEC to support schools to understand, deliver and record compliance with the new legislation as part of their wider careers programmes. The CEC has added questions to the Compass digital tool to allow schools to record compliance with the new legislation. This data also helps the CEC to manage support needs effectively.

132. The Careers Hub infrastructure is working closely with schools and providers to support them in meeting the new requirements and in particular reviewing where schools are not yet complying with the legislation. Every school and provider in England can access support through the CEC resource directory including templates, guidance on how to maximise encounters, and examples of effective practice.

133. The Department has introduced a ladder of support and intervention, set out in our careers statutory guidance (p52), to enforce the provider access legislation more effectively and to set out clear steps for tackling serious or persistent cases of non-compliance. The CEC provides headline data to the Department on a quarterly basis to help identify challenging areas and barriers to compliance. The CEC has also set up a single place for providers to register a concern if they have reason to believe that a school is not complying with provider access legislation. Data shows clear improvements in compliance and, while there have been lots of requests for clarification and support, there have not been any concerns registered by providers to date through the CEC’s website. We will continue to monitor the impact of the legislative changes in 2023/24, the first full academic year that the strengthened legislation has been in place.

134. Ofsted’s school inspection handbook was updated in 2021 to make clear that if a school is not meeting the requirements of the provider access legislation, inspectors will state this in the inspection report, and take this into account when arriving at a judgement about personal development. Ofsted’s thematic review has examined the implementation of provider access legislation in schools. The full report will be published in autumn 2023.

Recommendation 20: The Department should develop potential solutions to the problem of schools being incentivised to encourage pupils to follow academic routes. As a first step, it must ensure that Ofsted are giving appropriate weight to employment and vocational routes when looking at destinations data and pupils’ preparedness for their next steps, and that schools are actively promoting apprenticeships as a positive destination alongside universities. (Paragraph 115)

135. On all Ofsted school inspections, inspectors assess the quality of careers provision and how well it benefits pupils in choosing and deciding their next steps. As set out in the school inspection handbook, inspectors will look at the quality of the unbiased careers advice and guidance provided to pupils, the school’s implementation of the provider access legislation to enable a range of education and training providers to engage with pupils in years 8 to 13, and school’s provision of good-quality, meaningful opportunities for pupils to encounter the world of work. If a school is not meeting the requirements of the provider access legislation, inspectors will state this in the inspection report. Inspectors will consider what impact this has on the quality of careers provision and the subsequent judgement for personal development.

136. Before every full school inspection, the inspector receives a data summary inspection report. This includes relevant data for inspectors to help them prepare for an inspection. Destination data showing the proportion of pupils progressing to education, employment and apprenticeship destinations is included in that report and Ofsted weights these equally. Inspectors use the data in the report as a starting point for understanding the school. Where any data seems unusual or gives any case for concern, inspectors will follow this up with the school on inspection. This approach means that schools are held to account for ensuring pupils receive effective unbiased, careers information, advice and guidance so they can pursue the educational route which is right for them.

137. The Department aims to ensure that each pupil follows the route which is right for them, be this academic, vocational, technical, or employment. To facilitate this, as set out in the introduction, the Get the Jump : Skills for Life campaign brings together information on education and training courses into one place, covering T Levels, apprenticeships, Vocational Technical Qualifications, Higher Technical Qualifications, A Levels, Higher Education and internships. It signposts users to a page on the National Careers Service website that brings all these options together for the first time. The Department–as mentioned in our response to recommendation 14–is also supporting teachers to develop their knowledge of career pathways and the labour market. Moreover, our success in taking the updated provider access legislation through Parliament last year also demonstrates our commitment to improving the parity of esteem for technical and academic options and raising awareness of technical options for pupils in secondary schools.

138. The Department is supporting several initiatives to raise awareness of technical options and apprenticeships for pupils’ post-16 options. For example, through the ASK programme, we are continuing to provide information, advice and guidance on apprenticeships, T Levels and various other technical education routes. ASK has engaged with over 600,000 young people in the academic year 2022/23, over 2,200 schools, and nearly 80 FE colleges. In addition, as set out in the introduction, DfE and UCAS are working together to boost the number of 18-year-olds moving into apprenticeships through the UCAS Hub. Over 1.5m students already use the UCAS Hub to access information on different education and training routes. From autumn 2023, students will be able to explore apprenticeship opportunities alongside undergraduate courses within the Hub, allowing them to discover and decide between their options in the same place for the first time. Students will be able to see the different routes into a single career destination. For example, if a student is interested in engineering, they will see the undergraduate and apprenticeship routes displayed side-by-side. Presenting students with all their choices in one place will not only transform the apprenticeship offering but create real parity by putting these options side-by-side with undergraduate courses.

“Cultivating optimism and hope”: Improving CEIAG provision for specific groups of pupils

Recommendation 21: The Department must evaluate the impact of its pilot programmes targeting disadvantaged pupils and those from minority ethnic groups and set out a timeline for when it expects the programmes to be rolled out nationally, where they are proven to be effective. (Paragraph 127)

139. Our ambition is to have a high-quality careers offer that works for everybody. We agree that it is important to make sure that all disadvantaged pupils have access to the full range of opportunities available to their peers, and we provide additional support for those who are disadvantaged. Schools and colleges should recognise the opportunity to improve social mobility by identifying any barriers to participation the pupils may have and identify the support needed to maximise their life chances. Schools and colleges should tailor careers activities and educational goals to the needs of each student. They should take account of their prior knowledge and skills, the choices and transitions they face and any additional support that may be needed to overcome barriers to progression. This will help to ensure that students from all backgrounds consider the widest possible range of careers. We agree with the Committee that it is important to learn from best practice and build these lessons learned into our evolving delivery model.

140. Our primary approach to funding the roll out of careers infrastructure across the country, is to improve the quality of careers programmes that will have a significant impact on all disadvantaged young people. As explained earlier, there is evidence of a link between Gatsby Benchmark achievement and the likelihood of a young person becoming NEET that is twice as strong in disadvantaged schools.

141. As set out in the introduction, the CEC provides careers support to those from wider disadvantaged backgrounds through a Community of Improvement focused on inclusion. The Community of Improvement works with Careers Hubs and SEND specific Enterprise Coordinators to enable them to better support schools, colleges and training providers through sharing good practice and developing resources. Our work to target further support to tackle disadvantage at a local level is an important element of the Careers Hub offer. Careers Hubs have a degree of flexibility to address the specific needs of individuals where hubs identify a local need. Through continued investment in this area, we have asked CEC to ensure that all Careers Hubs deliver activity to support disadvantaged young people in their local area, via the ‘Hub Delivery Fund’ by August 2024. By building this into our national approach, this will help to improve consistency of this targeted delivery.

142. As set out in the introduction, we expanded the development school sub-programme of the ASK programme to deliver activities throughout the 2022/23 academic year to support pupils from 60 schools to tackle the barriers they face and prepare them for post-16 education and training. We are learning from the success of this programme to inform future practice.

143. The CEC evaluate all pilot projects so that we have clear evidence of impact to inform decisions about future developments. For example, Risk of NEET projects have proven to be effective and they are due to be further scaled and rolled out across the country in the 2023/24 academic year to test their effectiveness at a larger scale.5 The evaluation of the CEC’s £1.7m investment into interventions for disadvantaged young people, identified a range of effective measures to support positive outcomes, that differed by target group, including Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities, looked after children and young people with SEND.

144. It is important that we continue to learn from the evaluations of these targeted programmes, and build up a robust evidence base of what careers interventions work to improve a young person’s confidence and empower them to make informed decisions about their post-16 options. CEC will continue to share and embed best practice so that all schools and colleges benefit from the research and programmes developed through investment funds. This will help to inform how we scale up future provision. We will set out further detail in the Strategic Action Plan for Careers, including clear, measurable outcomes and dates by which these will be achieved.

Recommendation 22: The Department should work with the CEC to collect and publish data on the proportion of SENCOs who have undertaken careers training, and set out the steps it intends to take to ensure that all SENCOs are fully trained and working with Careers Leaders with a school or college. (Paragraph 135)

145. We agree with the Committee that careers support for pupils with SEND is vitally important. This is why we have set out in the careers statutory guidance that the school governing body should provide clear advice and support for the Career Leader who is responsible for developing a strategic careers plan. An important part of their role is to work closely with their SENCO to ensure that tailored careers plans are in place to support each pupil to understand their careers choices, raise their aspirations, meet their potential, and support their transitions (p26).

146. The Department is funding the CEC to develop the Careers Leader role through training, resources, peer learning, and wider networks. They have developed specialist resources, training modules (including SEND training for Careers Leaders and SENCOs), events, a dedicated community of improvement, a network of business volunteers who are experienced at working with young people with SEND, as well as dedicated SEND Enterprise Coordinators who can partner with a school or college to improve the careers education programme. This autumn term, CEC is launching a training module for SENCOs on how the role of the SENCO and the Careers Leader can better align to support all aspects of a young person with SEND through their careers education programme including links to the education, health and care plan process and key stages of transition. We will continue to ensure that Careers Leaders are supported (through training and local hub support) to effectively carry out their strategic function and prioritise careers provision, working closely with parents/carers, the SENCO and other relevant staff to identify any barriers and support needed by young people with SEND.

147. We will continue to encourage take-up of the current CEC offer. We will ask the CEC to continue to work with National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN) and the consortium of SEND charities, Whole School SEND to develop their direct offer of support by reaching SENCOs through partner networks and to share the free resources, training and events to enhance a SENCOs professional development. Many Career Hubs also have a localised offer through their inclusion work and have held several events targeted at bringing together the work of Careers Leaders and SENCOs.

Recommendation 23: Four years ago, our predecessor Committee highlighted the gaps in access to Supported Internships for pupils with SEND without an EHCP. We welcome the department’s pilot to extend the programme as announced in the Spring Budget and recommend that this should be rolled out to cover all areas of the country if the pilot is proved to be successful. (Paragraph 136)

148. The Department was delighted to announce the Supported Internship pilot. We are committed to ensuring that all learners, including those with SEND, have access to a world-class education that sets them up for life and supports them to achieve positive outcomes.

149. We are seeking to test whether the Supported Internship pilot improves employment outcomes for young people aged 16–24 with complex SEND / Learning Difficulties or Disabilities who need extra support to progress to sustained, paid employment and do not have education, health and care plans. We have invited a small number of local authorities from a mix of urban and rural areas to bid for funding to take part in the pilot and expect delivery to begin during this autumn term, running until March 2025.

150. Once the pilot has been evaluated, we will carefully consider the possibility of making the programme available across all areas of the country, based on the evaluation’s findings.

Recommendation 24: The Department must scale up its programme of expanded Pupil Premium Plus funding to cover all areas of the country and ensure that, as a condition of receiving the funding, local authorities are providing young people with access to careers advice. (Paragraph 143)

151. The Department has made a total of £24 million available to extend post-16 Pupil Premium Plus-style funding in the financial years 2023–24 (£10m) and 2024–25 (£14m) to all local authorities. This extends the programme from 58 local authorities in 2022–23, giving all local authorities in England funding to support the educational outcomes of looked-after children and care leavers up to age 18, from 2023–24.

152. This funding will be managed by the local authority’s Virtual School Head (VSH). VSHs will have the discretion to use the funding as they see appropriate, aligning to needs identified in the child or young person’s Personal Education Plan (PEP). In making use of this funding, VSHs have been asked to consider how they could best support looked-after children and care leavers to enable them to have sustained involvement in education, employment, and training.

153. We have been clear that this funding can and should be used to improve careers advice, information, and guidance on apprenticeships–including VSH requests for support from the ASK programme which can deliver guidance sessions and bespoke content. VSHs have also been asked to consider how they can support young people who are particularly vulnerable, including those who are NEET or are at risk of becoming NEET.

Recommendation 25: The Department should conduct research into the experience of CEIAG among young carers and the barriers they face. Following this, it should use its learning from its existing pilot programmes for disadvantaged groups to put in place targeted support for this group. (Paragraph 144)

154. The Committee is justified in singling out young carers and care leavers as an area of focus where more can be achieved for young people outside of mainstream schooling.

155. Young carers should be in school and benefiting from the same educational opportunities, including careers advice, as all children. However, the Department has recognised the need to better understand their educational outcomes and any impact of caring responsibilities. We have recently added young carers to the school census and have published the first data from that collection recording. As this is a new data collection, we expect the quality of the data returns to improve over time as the collection becomes established, however the census records 39,983 young carers in schools in England in 2022/23. Education data will be available from next year and we will use that information to identify further support needs.

156. Being able to identify these young people, we can ensure that the careers programme offers targeted support tailored to their individual needs to make sure they are aware of all the choices and provide additional support needed to overcome barriers to progression.

157. We recognise that young carers may be unable to fully benefit from their school’s careers programme. As set out in the introduction, the CEC is working with Youth Employment UK to develop a suite of online learning modules aimed at reaching vulnerable young people outside of mainstream education, for example young carers and those being home educated, and the professionals working to support them. These resources aim to engage young people with trusted, self-directed learning and high-quality signposting to pathway information, online experiences of the workplace, sector information and transitions support, and importantly, enable young people to fit their learning around their personal caring responsibilities.

158. The National Careers Service website and helpline also offer support to people 13+ and are very experienced in providing support to vulnerable groups. As described in our response to recommendation 6, the Department is currently enhancing the website, to ensure that the content is age appropriate and accessible and provides engaging and useful content for this younger age group.

159. The Department has put in place other measures to ensure that young carers and care leavers are supported through their education and transition post-18:

  • The recently announced £10 million investment for 2023–24, and further funding for 2024–25, to extend the Pupil Premium Plus to all eligible local authorities to provide bespoke support for children in care and care leavers in post-16 education, including the provision of improved CEIAG.
  • The increase in the care leaver apprenticeship bursary from £1,000 to £3,000 from August 2023. Local authorities must provide a £2,000 bursary for care leavers who go to university.
  • The Civil Service care leaver internship scheme, which has led to over 880 care leavers taking up paid jobs across government.

Recommendation 26: The Department must develop a system of support for young people outside of mainstream education to access CEIAG, either through improvements to the National Careers Service or through the Careers and Enterprise Company. This should be clearly advertised and proactively targeted to ensure that young people and their families are aware of and able to access the support. (Paragraph 149)

160. The Department welcomes the Committee’s recommendation that more needs to be done to meet the careers support needs of young people outside of mainstream education. As the Committee has noted, in recent years the CEC has made good progress in supporting schools, colleges and special schools to improve the provision of careers education for the majority of young people. In addition, the National Careers Service provides support to young people over the age of 13 via its website, webchat and telephone helpline, allowing young people to speak to a professionally qualified careers adviser.

161. However, we agree with the Committee that more needs to be done to meet the needs of young people who are not learning in mainstream education settings. This includes, for example, young people who are home educated and young people who are NEET. The NEET cohort are often some of the most disadvantaged young people and careers support is an essential element of re-engagement.

162. We look forward to seeing the evaluation of CEC and Youth Employment UK’s pilot of additional support for young people outside mainstream education, as referenced in our response to recommendation 25. This will provide valuable insight and learning to shape future policy interventions for young people outside of mainstream education. We are committed to considering the best ways for this group of young people to access careers support and will discuss this with the sector before determining the best mechanism for delivering this. We will set out more detail about how we can better support young people outside of mainstream education in the Strategic Action Plan for Careers.

Recommendation 27: The Department must deliver on its commitment to introduce a register of pupils not in school by the end of the year, and should use this to gather more data on the characteristics of these pupils and how best to target support. The proposed duty on local authorities to provide support to home educating families, as set out in the draft Schools Bill, should be implemented alongside this and used to ensure that local authorities and/or Local Enterprise Partnerships can support CEIAG provision for home educated pupils. (Paragraph 150)

163. The Department agrees with the Committee for the need for statutory local authority registers for children not in school. We remain committed to introducing these registers for children not in school, as well as a duty for local authorities to provide support to home-educating families. The registers will help local authorities undertake their existing duties to ensure all children receive a suitable education and are safe, regardless of where they are educated. We will take forward these measures at the next suitable legislative opportunity, when parliamentary time allows.

164. In the meantime, we continue to work with local authorities to improve their non-statutory registers, and to support them to ensure all children are receiving a suitable education. Some Careers Hubs are active in this area and supporting local authorities help meet the needs of home educated children. Furthermore, young people outside of mainstream education can access online careers learning modules that offer self-directed learning and high-quality signposting to pathway information. In addition, young people aged 13+ can access one to one careers guidance via the National Careers Service telephone service.

165. To assist our understanding of these cohorts of children, from October 2022 the Department began collecting termly data on children missing education (CME) and elective home education (EHE) from local authorities on a voluntary basis. The CME and EHE data from autumn 2022 and spring 2023 was published on 18 May 2023. The Department will also review and consult on our elective home education guidance for local authorities and parents later this year.

166. To support swifter identification and greater support of CME, the Department has run a call for evidence on children missing education. This closed on 20 July and is currently being analysed and will be published in due course.

Concluding remarks

167. The Government agrees fully with the core message of the Committee’s report that getting careers education right would boost the life chances of people, fill skills gaps in the labour market and level up communities. We are committed to taking action to continue to improve the consistency and quality of careers provision for all ages within a clear and unified system. We accept fully or in part the majority of the Committee’s recommendations. Where we do not fully accept recommendations, we already have an alternative existing or planned approach that has been developed as part of the Government’s overall programme for careers education, information, advice and guidance.

168. We will continue to work closely with partners and stakeholders throughout business, education and the careers sector to support everyone, whatever their background, to go as far as their talents will take them and have a rewarding career. As mentioned in response to recommendation 1, we intend to publish a Strategic Action Plan for Careers in 2024. This will include findings following stakeholder discussions on the best way to implement the Committee’s recommendations and set timeframes for doing so.


1 Latest position, end June 2023

2 Latest position, end June 2023

3 Latest position, end June 2023

4 Latest position, end June 2023

5 Good example based in the Careers Hub in Luton demonstrates that interventions with those at risk of becoming NEET led to positive destinations.