Ministers must take “urgent action” if they are to stop the continuing deterioration of careers guidance, MPs have said.
An investigation carried out by the Education Select Committee has concluded that the “quality and quantity of guidance for young people is deteriorating just when it is most needed”.
From September 2012, schools have been responsible for delivering impartial, independent and face-to-face careers advice to students in years 9 to 11 (plans to extend this to include year 8 students have recently been confirmed).
The change came after government cuts led to the closure of Connexions services. However, while the duty has transferred to schools, none of the estimated
£200 million cost of providing services has been forthcoming, meaning schools have had to fund services from existing budgets.
The report attacks the government’s decision to transfer responsibility to schools as “regrettable”.
It states: “International evidence suggests such a model does not deliver the best provision for young people. The weaknesses of the school-based model have been compounded by the failure to transfer to schools any budget with which to provide the service. This has led, predictably, to a drop in the overall level of provision.”
However, MPs on the committee stopped short of calling for more funding and instead urged headteachers to make careers guidance “a priority within their budgets”.
MPs found little accountability for how schools were meeting the duty and said that the quality of the guidance being provided was a concern.
The report states: “The quality of careers guidance provided in schools was raised as a concern by many witnesses. This was expressed in terms of the form the guidance takes, its independence and impartiality, the limitations of those providing guidance and quality assurance.”
It calls for a new requirement on schools to publish an “annual careers plan” to set out its careers work, including the resources being allocated and links with external experts and employers.
It also wants a minimum of one personal careers interview with an independent advisor to be available for every student, a requirement for schools to work towards the Quality in Careers Standard and to “procure guidance services only from qualified providers and individuals”.
MPs also criticised some schools for not being impartial in their careers guidance and often steering students towards their own 6th form provision while “restricting” access to rival providers.
Chair of the Education Select Committee, Graham Stuart, said: “Too many schools put their own interests ahead of that of their pupils, restrict access to other education providers and make the filling of their 6th form places more of a priority than their statutory duty to provide independent and impartial advice and guidance for pupils.”
Speaking more generally, he added: “We have found that the quality and quantity of guidance for young people is deteriorating just when it is most needed. If young people are to benefit from the increased choices created by this government we need a careers advice and guidance system which supports them to make the right ones.”