The Baker Clause – How will the school system react?

FE News reports that on 2nd January 2018, the Baker Clause comes into force across England and Wales, effectively forcing all schools to open their doors to FE, apprenticeship and alternative 14-16 training providers, so that they have access to speak with students from Years 8-13 about their offer at 14-16, post-16 and post-18, a move expected to be met with opposition by many school leaders.

On the one hand, this is hardly surprising; schools are increasingly under pressure with performance measures like the Progress 8 and Ebacc and no doubt find the idea of giving UTCs, FE Colleges and apprenticeships providers an open invitation to pitch alternatives to school/sixth form to their best and brightest a relatively galling prospect. As for the opposing argument, with organisations like UTCs struggling to recruit and the government’s push for an increase in uptake of technical education and apprenticeships coupled with accusations of a lack of impartial careers guidance in schools, it is easy to see why the Baker Clause made its way into being.

With all that in mind, what does the Baker Clause hope to achieve and how will schools adapt to what is for some a drastic change in policy?

Although it is understandable for schools to want to hold on to their students, particularly given the recent incentives announced for retaining A-Level Maths students, the fact that a fifth of students nationwide drop out of sixth form prior to completing their A-Levels seems to suggest that traditional academic pathways are not always the answer for all students and inviting in alternative providers and employers with apprenticeship programmes may help to avoid the ‘square peg, round hole’ scenario that some students who have been encouraged to stay on at school find themselves in each year.

While many school leaders will feel aggrieved at the prospect of being forced to adhere to this new policy, it does present an excellent opportunity for collaborative work that stands to benefit both schools and external providers. With the government’s recently announced careers strategy placing an expectation on schools to deliver at least one meaningful interaction with businesses every year, schools may find there is much to be gained by working together with local technical education providers to meet both their commitment to the Baker Clause and facilitate a greater number of employer engagement activities each year.

Like or not, the Baker Clause is here to stay, so for those planning to hold off on enacting the policy, their energies may be better spent attempting to work collaboratively with local providers in order to balance the needs of the school while giving their students the opportunity to see all of the options available to them at key transition points in their education.

Read the full article The Baker Clause – How will the school system react?

Is your school ready for the Baker Clause? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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