School careers advice – is it leaving pupils to sink or swim?

Pupils are being short-changed by the new schools-based careers advice, according to new research. This is an extract from a detailed investigation by the Guardian

…Previously, careers advice was the responsibility of local councils, and primarily delivered by the government-funded agency Connexions, which was disbanded at a national level last year.

The new legislation placed the duty on schools, which now have to provide impartial information, advice and guidance for pupils in years 9 to 11 (and, from next month, years 8 to 13) – despite being given no additional funding to do so. The government’s National Careers Service (NCS), which was set up last year, offers telephone and web-based support for young people, but face-to-face advice is offered only to adults.

New research published on Tuesday by the children’s charity Barnardo’s suggests the new system could already be failing pupils – largely because they are not getting enough face-to-face support with careers guidance.

The report, based on in-depth interviews with young people, service managers and professional careers advisers, found that the government’s online and telephone support services were not reaching young people: not one of the 29 young people interviewed had heard of the NCS or dedicated youth careers website, Plotr.

This echoes the findings of a recent report from the National Careers Council, which found that fewer than 1% of young people had used the National Careers Service’s telephone helpline. The call rate – 40p a minute – may be at least partly to blame: though the website offers a free call-back to all mobile users, the cost of the initial call may be off-putting for some young people, says Kay Tarry, a service manager for Phase 2, a Barnardo’s project that supports young people at risk of dropping out of education and employment.

“I think there is an attitude that all young people have access to IT – but, actually, some don’t have mobile phones or they are on pay-as-you-go contracts and can’t afford the internet on their phone,” she says.

And even young people who can access these resources need face-to-face support, Tarry says. “We do a lot of work with young people on telephone skills, and often they do need that coaching to be able to get them to a point where they are confident enough to be able to say, ‘This is the question I want to ask’, or ‘I want someone to ring me back with information about this career’. If they do go online and look at the information, they may need someone to sit down with them, talk about the careers that interest them and maybe unpick that a bit further.”

Many of the young people interviewed for the Barnardo’s study said they were offered just one face-to-face session of careers guidance – others, none at all.

The biggest losers are not necessarily those not in employment, education or training (Neets), who often qualify for additional, funded support from their local authorities, but the in-betweeners who may have few qualifications or simply feel disengaged from school. Young people like this can be easily influenced by their peers and don’t always trust the advice on offer, says Tarry…

More at:  School careers advice – is it leaving pupils to sink or swim?

Please give us your insights into what’s working and what’s not working with the new approach to careers guidance. Does it need to be much more face-to-face? Is more training required for teachers? Should the service start talking to children at a younger age? And is it really sensible for calls to NCS to cost young people 40p/minute? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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  1. FlackJamie

    SchoolsImprove when will we learn that clear investment is needed in preparing young people for work? It’s necessary yet it’s Neglected

  2. Stephen_Logan

    SchoolsImprove preparing young people for their future career is crucial. So many layers of support is required. Investment needed.

  3. Stephen_Logan

    SchoolsImprove suggest looking at good practice. CareersWeek careersbox is a great example of #careers in action.

  4. Stephen_Logan

    SchoolsImprove suggest looking at good practice. CareersWeek careersbox is a great example of #careers in action.

  5. margelibrarian

    SchoolsImprove Start b4 options chosen, offer 1 2 1 face to face impartial informed guidance. Psychometric only to start chat. Repeat.

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