How will we force schools to open their doors to colleges?

New legislation means schools now have to allow training providers in to talk to their students about career options, but we all know that headteachers will be reluctant, writes principal Sam Parrett in Tes.

The so-called “Baker amendment” – introduced as part of the Technical and Further Education Act 2017, thanks to an intervention from former education secretary and university technical college founder Lord Baker – will require all schools to allow colleges and training providers in, to talk about the alternative education options available.

Many schools are extremely reticent to suggest options other than sixth form to their students, fearing a drop in numbers. Fewer students means less funding, at a time when schools are struggling with reduced budgets.

From careers hubs and careers leaders in schools and colleges to improved work experience opportunities and a beefed-up National Careers Service, all the recommendations in the strategy are valid and much-needed. We are all used to hearing of good intentions and ideas that sound great on paper. But how can we ensure that this strategy will deliver what’s needed?

Career success is also reliant on good progression links. Whether a student chooses to move into higher education, on to an apprenticeship or directly into work, high-quality pathways must be available.

These progression pathways can only be effective if young people and their parents are aware of the options – and this awareness is what the Baker amendment aims to achieve. However, I am sceptical about the fact that no mechanism to enforce this legislation will be in place. What exactly will happen to schools that refuse to let their local college or technical school in to talk about vocational and skills-led routes?

Will we be facing the same situation as we are with raising the participation age to 18, where there is absolutely no recourse or action taken if the rules are not adhered to, due to lack of monitoring? Who would I go to if a school said no, my staff couldn’t come and talk to their pupils? If it’s a local authority school, will the LA have the power to insist that it opens its doors?

Read the full article How will we force schools to open their doors to colleges?

What do you school feel about the ‘Baker amendment’? Is your school ready to allow FE colleges and training providers  in? How should the legislation be enforced? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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