School receptionists ‘giving careers advice’, MPs warn

The BBC is reporting warnings from MPs that secondary schools in England are using teaching assistants and receptionists to give pupils careers advice…

The warning came as members of the Commons Education Committee questioned Education Secretary Nicky Morgan over a lack of adequate advice for youngsters.

The MPs said the minister’s failure to have mandatory standards for careers advice was to blame for poor provision.

Schools must secure independent careers guidance for secondary pupils.

But the quality and suitability of this provision has been a cause of concern for some time.

Interviewing Ms Morgan on Wednesday about careers provision for young people, the cross-party committee of MPs said the current situation was not working.

Labour MP Alex Cunningham said research by the union, Unison, in June found 83% of schools did not employ any professional careers adviser and the role was being picked up by people “including, in many cases, teaching assistants and other support staff who are totally ill-equipped to do that”.

“Are you saying today […] that every school should in fact have some form of support for professional careers advisers?”

Ms Morgan said: “I’m not going to mandate, no. But I think it’s up to schools to commission, they will have people in and I would disagree with you that people are utterly ill-equipped within schools – some may be more confident than others.”

Committee chair Graham Stuart interjected to say he was aware of a university technical college that was training its receptionist to be a careers adviser within their school “while running reception, fitting it in”.

“Now that’s because you’re not mandating any standards whatsoever – that’s the standard,” said Mr Stuart.

“And if you accept the lack of an incentive for them to take it seriously […], then look at the failure to mandate any standards, and you end up with the receptionist and the teaching assistant fitting in a little bit here and there – and apparently that fulfils the duty.”

Ms Morgan said it was for schools to make their own decisions about the “right people” to get in to offer advice…

More at: School receptionists ‘giving careers advice’, MPs warn


This does not sound good – if careers advice is important enough to teach then should there not be mandated standards for how this is done? Please let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Employment and Secondary.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Govt cuts, if not eradicates funding for careers advice; what do they expect to happen? Typical “head in sand” politics

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Despite govt cutting all funding for careers advice many schools still provide it – the situation described is not common

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The story is fuelled by hearsay: Stuart claiming to have heard this on a grapevine. MPs are not reliable is sources of info

  4. Janet2

    Thirty years ago, thanks to the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI), the profile of careers and work-related education rose.  My school was in a small cluster, part of a regional group, which comprised teachers with responsibility for careers.

    Now, thanks to funding cuts and the demonisation of professional careers advisers (vested interests, according to Gove), the situation re careers is dire.

  5. HughdjNicklin

    SchoolsImprove I did Careers for a year. Awful. Receptionist has at least a toehold in world of real work, which, as a teacher, I hadn’t.

  6. PeterHutchinso5

    HughdjNicklin Our Careers teacher got in visiting speakers from world of work every week. If you weren’t doing this, it really was awful.

  7. HughdjNicklin

    FionaTipper SchoolsImprove Of course it’s work in the sense of slog, but not in the sense that if you lose the order you don’t get paid.

  8. HughdjNicklin

    PeterHutchinso5 I did run a large Careers convention, but my interactions with the pupils were not good. School-College-school. Old story

  9. PeterHutchinso5

    HughdjNicklin That’s very honest of you. No offence intended. Our Careers teacher was ex army with little knowledge of civilian life!

  10. HughdjNicklin

    FionaTipper In my day teachers were never sacked for being uninspiring clock watchers, so long as they turned up & kept some kind of order.

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