Careers guidance at school: how to make it work for your students

The Guardian asks ‘How are schools doing on careers advice for their students?’ This is the question posed for the new State of the Nation 2017 report, published by social enterprise The Careers & Enterprise Company. Our findings are based on 600 schools completing a self-assessment tool, giving us insights into their delivery of careers provision.

We looked at how close schools are to eight benchmarks describing best practice – such as a stable careers programme, linking curriculum learning to careers, and offering personal guidance. While there have been improvements since 2014, there is still a long way to go.

Current careers provision typically falls short of the standard set by the benchmarks. More than 20 per cent of schools are not achieving any benchmarks, and on average schools are only meeting 1.87 of them. It’s encouraging to see, however, that the benchmarks are stretching but achievable – and that schools of all types and in all areas are managing to meet them. So what could schools be doing to move their careers and enterprise provision forwards?

Develop careers content in all subjects

Careers and enterprise provision shouldn’t just happen in PSHE. Subject teachers should be encouraged to consider how to bring careers content into the curriculum to bring the subject to life, making connections between classroom learning and young people’s aspirations. For example, the Bourne Academy in Bournemouth teaches students how to write business letters as part of the year 10 and 11 English curriculum.

Provide work experience for everyone

Our report found that only about half of schools (54.5%) are offering the overwhelming majority of their students a meaningful experience of the workplace by the end of year 11 (age 16). This drops to only a third (33.2%) in the sixth form (years 12 and 13).

We would like to see work experience available to all students.Friern Barnet School in Barnet is an example of a school that makes make good use of its 780-plus alumni to boost its employer contacts and offers all students a week’s work experience placement in year 10.

Read more ways your school can give guidance Careers guidance at school: how to make it work for your students

Is your schools careers advice up to scratch? How easy is it to provide work experience for all? Are local businesses helpful? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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