ASCL comment on Sutton Trust research into careers education and guidance in schools

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on research by the Sutton Trust revealing that more than a third of secondary school pupils do not feel confident in taking their next steps in education and training.
“The main reason that there is variation in careers advice is that the government dismantled the national provision about a decade ago and transferred the responsibility to schools while also squeezing their funding. Since then it has endeavoured to make up for lost ground with only partial success.

“Careers advice is a specialist service which requires professionals who are trained experts in the field and can provide impartial guidance on the full range of routes that are available to young people. This report draws attention to the need for more information on apprenticeship options, for example, which would certainly be helpful. However, the apprenticeships landscape is complex and difficult to navigate and is a case in point where extensive knowledge of a variety of workplaces and apprenticeship vacancies is needed to deliver this sort of guidance.

“While schools and colleges work very hard to source and provide high-quality careers advice they have to do so in the context of severe funding pressures as well as many other demands on their time and resources.

“Regarding the recommendation that all pupils have access to work experience between the ages of 14 and 16, identifying and sourcing work experience placements for 17 and 18-year-olds can be very challenging, let alone for 14 to 16-year-olds. While the principle is a good one, it is difficult to see how this would work in reality. Indeed, one of the main difficulties in delivering the government’s new T-level qualifications at scale is how to source the extensive industry placements which form part of these courses.”