Best practice guidance to help tackle careers advice problems


Schools have been issued with three pieces of guidance in a bid to tackle the on-going problems with careers education.

The Department for Education (DfE) has published new statutory guidance on careers advice as well as a dossier of case studies detailing best practice in schools.

At the same time, a coalition of four education organisations has published a free “best practice brief” on careers engagement.

The DfE guidance instructs schools to “engage fully” with their local employer and professional communities. It says that “real-world connections” with employers must be at the heart of any careers strategy.

It says this might include mentoring and coaching opportunities, “inspirational” speakers, workplace and higher education visits, networking events and careers fairs. It also recommends schemes such as Business in the Community, Career Academies and Inspiring the Future.

The advice also says that schools should use the official destination data for their students, which is produced by the DfE, as part of their evaluation of their careers services.

Meanwhile, the Association of School and College Leaders, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), and the 157 Group have produced their own practical advice highlighting “the principles of effective careers education, information, advice and guidance”.

Entitled Careers Engagement: A good practice brief for leaders of schools and colleges, the document offers advice for schools on how to assess their careers strategies and is based on research into how young people make careers and education choices.

There have been well-documented problems with careers guidance ever since the government axed the £200 million a year Connexions centres and gave schools the statutory duty to deliver services.

Since September 2012, schools have been responsible for giving “independent and impartial” guidance to all students in years 9 to 11. Last year this was extended to year 8 pupils as well as 6th formers. However, none of the £200 million has been forthcoming to support schools.

A number of high-profile reports have criticised careers provision. In September, Ofsted found that only one in five schools are effective in ensuring students get a good level of advice, while in January last year, members of the Education Select Committee said the decision to transfer the careers duty to schools was “regrettable” and that “urgent action” was needed to reverse a decline in services.

In June, the National Careers Council found that the lack of direct links between the National Careers Service (NCS) and schools had become a “major barrier” and called for the government to expand the NCS remit to help tackle the fragmentation of services. 

A key issue has been that much of the NCS is aimed at adults, with those aged under-18 only having access to a website and phone line.

Tami McCrone, a research director at the NFER, said: “This careers brief has been informed by research evidence and designed to provide practical help to support senior leaders within schools and colleges to meet their careers guidance duty.”

You can download the government’s statutory careers guidance at

DfE supplementary non-statutory guidance highlighting case studies of best practice can be downloaded at

The Careers Engagement document can be accessed at



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