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Partly because of the lack of advice available, many young people rely disproportionately on two sources of advice that are most readily available to them. First, there are the parents, immediate family and friends whose experience often triggers a career decision. That may be appropriate but by its very nature it is limited and encompasses only what this particular group knows about. Secondly, young people are very influenced by their own teachers, but many of them know nothing of the world of work outside school and teaching because they have gone straight from school into teacher training and back into school again. For many teachers, the right career path, which they have followed and therefore know about, is the path of GCSE, A-level and on to university, and they tend to advise their pupils accordingly. In particular, they are ignorant about the plethora of vocational courses available at further education colleges. Because young people do not know about such courses, they do not consider that alternative, which might be an appropriate route to gaining qualifications at level 2 or level 3.

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We support the Government in seeking to ensure that careers advice is impartial—under proposed new subsection (2B). That is an important part of the Bill that we do not wish to be cut out. Indeed, we go further in our Amendment No. 194. We think it is important not only that advice is impartial but also that teachers and tutors who have responsibility for giving careers advice should be properly trained for the job. The old jibe about PE teachers taking careers on on a part-time basis is unfair. Most schools and colleges take careers advice seriously, and those teachers who take on responsibility for careers education put in many hours getting themselves up to speed. However,

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it is not an easy function to take on part time, and it is important that those teachers have support from properly trained careers advisers who are not just available on the end of a telephone line, but are an active presence in the school and are available to offer specialist advice when required.

Clause 66 essentially inserts a series of amendments into the Education Act 1997. Section 43 of that Act requires that all publicly funded schools provide programmes of careers education to 14 to 16 year-olds. Section 46 empowers the Secretary of State to extend the requirement below 14 and above 16. That power has recently been extended downwards to cover school years 7 to 11—11 to 16 year-olds—but, in England, it has not yet been extended forward to cover the post-16 years, years 12 and 13, although it has been so extended in Wales. Given the raising of the statutory leaving age from 16 to 18, it is surely necessary to do that. Amendment No. 197 was supposed to do that, but we regret to say that we misunderstood the briefing and found that we had merely repeated the existing clause rather than amended it. I apologise to the Committee for this mistake. We will bring forward an appropriate amendment on Report, unless the Minister is proposing to do so.

Choices to participate in post-16 education will be about learning and future work. Young people must be supported in making those choices, whether at school, college or in workplace learning. The principles that we believe are essential if the proposed raising of the statutory leaving age is to be a success are that every young person must be assured of high quality careers education programmes delivered by teachers and tutors with appropriate training; comprehensive and impartial careers advice and information, including on opportunities for progressive post-18 education; and independent careers advice and guidance provided by appropriately trained careers guidance specialists working within the local authority’s support services team.

Baroness Perry of Southwark:I offer my warmest support to Amendment No. 194, which was tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp. I have seen some pretty awful careers advice, at least 30 years out of date, given by teachers who have not been given any specialist training. This training needs to be updated as employment opportunities develop so rapidly now. Hundreds of new employment opportunities are created every year as technology develops. Some of the most powerful careers advice is given by subject teachers to young people who are particularly excited by the subject they are being taught and who are looking for a career related to their interest in that subject. Those people have a key role to play. It is important that the advice which they give is up to date, professional and accurate.

I offer particular support to Amendment No. 193, tabled by my noble friend. I know that the Sutton Trust has created a very healthy climate. It is generally accepted now that it is not enough just to get more young people from socially deprived areas to aspire to go on to higher education, but that we must incite those who are so qualified to go on to the Russell group universities and perhaps to Oxford or Cambridge if that is appropriate. I support and have worked with the work of the Sutton Trust in that aim.

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To give a vivid illustration of that, I remember a student who came to my college in Cambridge in 2001. She was a most remarkable young woman who had been living on the street. She had run away from unhappy home circumstances when she was 17. She dropped out of school, of course, and had lived for two and a half years on the street, which many experts say is beyond repair—that if you have lived that long on the streets, you will never be recoverable. Her formidable personality and, as it later proved, formidable intellect, caused her, as she put it, to wake up one morning and say to herself, “There has got to be more to life than this”. She got herself together, she got a job in a bar serving as a barmaid and registered at her local sixth-form college, where she was immediately identified as an extraordinarily bright young person. Despite having missed two and a half years of schooling, she picked up an A-level course and was working for three A-levels, no less, in what she hoped would be a year and a half. She discovered, of course, that her two and a half years out made it very difficult for her to catch up with the other young people in the group, so she took even more hours working to pay for some private tuition for herself.

As it happened, her tutor was a Cambridge PhD. After a few months of working with her, he said to her, “Do you know that you are bright enough to get into Cambridge if you want to?”. She was terribly excited by that and went back to her sixth-form tutor and said, “My tutor says that I could try for Cambridge. What do you think about that?”. To my horror, she told us that the reply from her sixth-form college tutor was, “Cambridge? Give me a match and I’d burn the place down. Nothing but snobs. You’d never fit in there with your background. Don’t even think of it”. At which point, in great distress, she went back to her private tutor and said, “My tutor at sixth-form college says that I could not possibly try for it”. Fortunately, he encouraged her to go on trying. She came to us with three As at A-level that she got in 18 months after two and a half years on the street and was a star pupil.

A story such as that convinces me that there are still teachers out in the system who are prepared actively to discourage people from Russell group applications. It is terribly important that they are encouraged—indeed, directed—to give appropriate advice to young people as to what kind of university they are suited to go to.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: Briefly, I support all the amendments. With the raising of the school leaving age, adequate—more than adequate—advice will play even more of a key role, as we have heard so graphically described, particularly in the story told to us by the noble Baroness, Lady Perry.

We must not forget that quite a lot of work is already going on. Students at some universities are already going out to talk to schools where there are some able pupils coming from families where university, particularly the top universities, has not been thought of. That is excellent, because some role models are doing that here and now.

I support all that has been said. We need proper training in independence, as well as in subjects, in life and in employment—employers should play a much

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greater role in coming to talk to colleges and universities than they do now, although even that is improving a great deal. I support the amendments.

Baroness Warnock: I support the amendments in spirit, but I have certain reservations about naming any universities or groups of universities in the Bill. That would be a disservice to those universities, especially Oxford and Cambridge, which have been working incredibly hard, not only recently but, to my certain knowledge, since the 1980s, to stretch out influence and persuade people from the maintained sector to apply to them. It may be counterproductive that any group of universities should be named. Nevertheless, the importance of giving appropriate and imaginative advice to young people is obvious. It is beyond value. It is enormously important.

Lord Adonis: The noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, speaks with great authority in this area. In my time at Oxford, Hertford College, with which she was associated, was exemplary in the way in which it sought to encourage students from less advantaged backgrounds and from state schools in general to apply. In my experience, colleges in Oxford and Cambridge and other leading universities are doing an increasing amount to encourage students to participate. Their scale of outreach activities is wholly more ambitious than it was a generation ago, which is to be applauded.

The example given by the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, is reprehensible but, I believe, very rare now. On my frequent visits to schools and colleges, I find that they go out of their way to highlight their highest attaining students who are going on to leading universities. They in no way hold back the progress of their students in the way that she suggested has occasionally happened.

The noble Baroness, Lady Morris, seeks to remove the part of Clause 66 that makes it explicit that schools, in giving advice, must not seek to promote their own interests over those of their pupils. However, her concerns are fully met by the clause, which explicitly addresses the issue by making it clear that the interests of young people must be paramount in all advice that is given. It emphatically does not mean, as the noble Baroness fears, that teachers and careers advisers cannot advise a young person that a particular option is best for them where they believe that it is. On the contrary, once a young person has been provided with information about all the options available, this is precisely what we would want, whether it would be for them to do three A-levels on their way to Oxbridge, as in the noble Baroness’s example, to undertake a diploma or to consider undertaking an apprenticeship or other work-based options. That is why the clause explicitly says that the advice,

The noble Baroness’s Amendment No. 192 seeks to ensure that schools should specifically promote the take-up of A-levels where they are in the best interests of the pupil. As I said, if a teacher feels that A-levels were in the best interests of a young person, they would already be required by the clause to advise them of this. With this clause, we are not attempting to cut

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across teachers using their experience and understanding of a young person’s abilities and interests to give them the best possible advice on the options available to them. On the contrary, they are required to give such advice.

On Amendment No. 194 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, I assure her that we will publish guidance to support the strengthened duty in the clause. Schools will be required to have regard to that duty, which will include a set of core principles to underpin their delivery of impartial and high-quality careers advice. As part of this, we will develop appropriate in-service training to ensure that all teachers, including the subject teachers mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, have a good understanding of 14-to-19 options and of progression pathways and career opportunities linked to their subject.

Separate to these measures to improve the careers advice delivered by school staff, schools are already required to provide access to careers specialists under Section 44 of the Education Act 1997. In practice, these careers services are delivered by Connexions personal advisers. We expect that this will continue as local authorities assume control of Connexions. In addition, the power to direct under Clause 55 will enable us to set minimum standards of qualifications for the Connexions personal advisers who provide this guidance and support.

The draft directions that we propose to issue state that,

Following Royal Assent, we will consult widely on the content of these directions, including on the minimum qualifications. I believe that this will meet the concerns of the noble Baroness.

4.15 pm

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: Section 46 of the 1997 Act, as extended, covers years 7 to 11, ages 11 to 16, but does not provide for careers education to those who are older than 16. Will that be amended?

Lord Adonis: The noble Baroness is right that we do not propose to legislate to require the provision of information beyond the age of 16, although we considered doing so in the context of the 14-to-19 reforms. We decided not to legislate because, in practice, schools and colleges are already providing careers education post-16 and we have no evidence of a problem of impartiality in this area. We are also implementing substantial measures alongside this Bill to strengthen careers education, including for post-16, and information, advice and guidance more generally. The measures include work to embed the information, advice and guidance quality standards; publication of the guidance mentioned in this clause; and linking success in the 14-to-19 gateway process to evidence of the availability of robust information, advice and guidance.

Notwithstanding all that, we have commissioned Ofsted to undertake a thematic review of information, advice and guidance provision, which will commence

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shortly and report specifically on the quality of the careers support provided to post-16 learners. We will review the need for further legislation in the light of Ofsted’s findings.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. This has been a short but worthwhile debate in which many of us have aired our concerns and disagreements. I am sorry that I forgot to say when I spoke initially that I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, about proper training for those who give careers advice in our schools. As for encouraging young people to apply to our best universities, I assure the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, that this is a probing amendment. As she says, it would be wrong to name certain universities in the Bill. The ambitious outreach of universities must be matched by ambitions within our schools. I was therefore pleased to hear the Minister say that the graphic example given by my noble friend Lady Perry would be extremely rare in the present day. I have been encouraged by the Minister’s reply to my concerns and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 191 to 194 not moved.]

Lord Tunnicliffe: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

Welfare Reform

4.17 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place on the Government’s Green Paper, No One Written Off: Reforming Welfare to Reward Responsibility. The Statement is as follows:

“The welfare state is a vital part of the fabric of our country. We take pride in it. It is how we come together as a nation to support those who are vulnerable and in need of help. But our welfare system has not always kept pace with the changes in our society. In preserving some of the structures inherited from its founders, we have neglected their principles.

“William Beveridge’s contract for welfare had three founding ideas: first, that revolutionary times called for revolution, not patching, and, secondly, that welfare was about more than just income. He wanted to topple not just want, but the other four giants of disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. These became the defining issues for the Attlee Government and inspired that Administration’s creation of the welfare state.

“But perhaps, over time, Beveridge’s third principle was lost. He was emphatically clear that the system of social security should not stifle incentive, opportunity and responsibility. The purpose of the welfare state

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was to help people in need today so that they could reduce their need tomorrow. From the 1960s onwards that third principle was eroded. The nadir came in the 1980s when all conditions were removed from unemployment benefit and unemployment rose to more than 3 million, much further than it needed to have done.

“In 1997, we inherited an essentially passive welfare state. Since then, we have been turning it into an active one. This Green Paper completes that transformation. It is based on the marriage of two simple ideas: more support and more responsibility, the root of a fair system for claimants and the taxpayer, and it aims to meet five main goals.

“The first is to end the idea that there is a choice between claiming and working. Instead, the longer people claim, the more we will expect in return. At three months and six months, claimants will intensify their job search and have to comply with a back to work action plan. After a year, they will be transferred to an outside provider who will be paid by results. Claimants will have to work for their benefits for at least four weeks, and longer if the provider requires it. For the 2 per cent who we anticipate to be still out of work after two years, we will explore mandatory full-time work programmes and other approaches such as daily signing. We will give our advisers the power to use full-time work as a sanction at any stage of a claim for those who are abusing the system. We will improve treatment for those who have a problem with crack cocaine and opiates, but require them to take up that treatment.

“We know our support works, but we also know that conditionality works. By getting more people to take up this support, we can increase employment and reduce poverty. When we introduced the New Deal, we started to end the idea that people could claim benefits indefinitely when there was work available. As long-term youth claimant unemployment fell by nearly 80 per cent, we extended that principle to other workers. As a result, we now have more people in work than ever before. Claimant unemployment has been nearly halved, saving £5 billion a year. Nine out of 10 people leave jobseeker’s allowance within 12 months of claiming. Work works, and it is only fair that we make sure a life on benefits is not an option.

“The second goal is to ensure that no one is written off. In 1979, there were around 700,000 people on incapacity benefits. By 1997, the total had risen to 2.5 million, and was going up by 50,000 every year. We have reversed that trend and the number on IB is now the lowest it has been for eight years. Annually, nearly 400,000 fewer people are flowing on to incapacity benefit compared with 1997. We have created the Pathways to Work programme which helps people to improve their health, adapt to their condition, rebuild their confidence and look for work. We know that it works and have made it mandatory for all new claimants. We have legislated to abolish incapacity benefit and replace it with the employment and support allowance.

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This new benefit treats people as individuals. It looks to see what people can do, not what they cannot.

“Today, I am announcing that we will migrate everyone from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance between 2010 and 2013, with personalised support based on our successful pathways programme. We will review the medical test to ensure that it reflects the latest evidence that work is generally good for people’s well-being and we will reassess all existing claimants to ensure that they are on the right benefit for them. Those who are ready to work will move on to jobseeker’s allowance. Those with the greatest needs will get a higher benefit rate, up from £86.35 to £102.10, and will be able to volunteer for Pathways to Work. We will increase funding for our specialist training programmes and for supported employment. Everyone else will get personalised help based on the pathways programme to get them back to health and back to work, but they will be required to take up this help and look for work where a doctor recommends it. These changes will mean that for the first time ever, no one will be abandoned to their fate just to get by on benefits. For the vast majority, ESA will be a temporary benefit, not a permanent snare.

“Our third goal is to transform the rights of disabled people. Disabled people do not want to be told that they cannot work. Instead, they want society to remove the discrimination that makes it harder for them to work. So, we will double the Access to Work budget, paying for sign language interpreters, specialised IT or help with mobility. Our aspiration is that everyone who could benefit should be able to do so. We will consult on a new right to control. We know that individual budgets work, and I want to give disabled people the right to know how much the state is spending on them, and request that money be given to them as a budget that they control. We want to put disabled people in control, not under the control of others.

“The fourth goal is to strengthen parental responsibility. We have lifted 600,000 children out of poverty, and following the £1 billion invested in the Budget are set to help another 500,000. But we need to strengthen family life too. So, for the first time, we will allow parents on benefits to keep all their maintenance payments and we will require both parents to register the birth of their child. Together with our changes to lone parent benefits, we estimate that these welfare reforms will lift 200,000 children out of poverty.

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