Baker Clause provision still inconsistent in schools, UCAS warns

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
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The Baker Clause – which should guarantee secondary school students access to a range of education and training provider information – is still not being implemented consistently, UCAS has warned.

Research from the university admissions service has found that only 26 per cent of students agree that it is “easy” to access information about Apprenticeships – compared to 73 per cent when to comes to higher education.

This is despite more than half of students looking to apply to higher education in 2022 being interested in Apprenticeship routes.

UCAS has published the research findings in a bid to raise awareness about the need to do more to give young people the information they need.

Its research involved responses from 1,165 young people in England and has been published in the report Where Next? Improving the journey to becoming an apprentice.

A key warning among the findings is that not all secondary schools are meeting duties under what is known as the Baker Clause. This duty came into force in January 2018 and stipulates that schools must invite a wide range of education and training providers in to help young people choose the right career path for them.

It was introduced amid concern that schools prioritise – intentionally or not – the promotion of academic pathways for students, especially those schools which have their own sixth forms.

And indeed, an investigation by MPs on the Education Select Committee in 2018 found that many schools are “flouting their obligations”. One piece of research quoted in the MPs’ report found that only two of 10 large multi-academy trusts investigated were fully compliant.

UCAS’s report warns that problems still persist: “We know teachers and advisers are working hard to inform students about their options. But despite their best efforts our research found that the clause is not being implemented consistently across all schools and colleges.”

Its research found that only around a third of the students reported receiving their legal entitlement to information from Apprenticeship providers or further education colleges.

The report adds: “This shows that students are still not alert to the full range of options available to them and may be ruling out opportunities unknowingly.”

UCAS says it wants to act as a “digital Baker Clause” for schools, providing students with information, advice, and content tools about “the full range of post-secondary options”. It says it is “working hard to deliver this over the next 12-months and beyond”.

Elsewhere, the research found that only eight per cent of the respondents associated Apprenticeships with leading to a good job.

The most common subject preferences for an interest in Apprenticeships are engineering (65.6 per cent), computer sciences (65.2 per cent) and architecture, building and planning (65.2 per cent).

UCAS chief executive Clare Marchant said: “UCAS is about much more than applying to an undergraduate degree – we provide information and support across the full range of post-18 opportunities. But more needs to be done to shake off the outdated stigma or misplaced snobbery associated with Apprenticeships, given they are a great start to any career.”


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