Careers advice: New rules crackdown on schools flouting Baker Clause

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

We must crackdown on schools which think that using pre-recorded videos or leaflets is enough to satisfy the so-called Baker Clause, it was said this week.

The Baker Clause was enacted in January 2017 and stipulates that schools must invite in a wide range of education and training providers to allow them to talk to students about Apprenticeships and other technical education routes.

However, compliance has been an on-going challenge and the Department for Education has this week launched a consultation over plans for a new minimum legal requirement (DfE, 2022).

The proposals would introduce a “legal requirement for all maintained schools and academies to provide at least six encounters with a provider of approved technical education qualifications or Apprenticeships”.

The first four encounters would be mandatory for all registered pupils to attend – two in years 8 or 9 and two in years 10 or 11 (held between September and February if the pupils are in year 9 or 11).

The final two encounters will be required in years 12 and 13 (also between September and February for pupils in year 13). These will be optional for pupils to attend.

The plans are intended to end the flouting by some schools of the Baker Clause – named after former education secretary and vocational education champion Lord Kenneth Baker.

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

And last year, UCAS research found that only around a third of the students reported receiving their legal entitlement to information from Apprenticeship providers or further education colleges. Its report stated: “We know teachers and advisers are working hard to inform students about their options. But despite their best efforts our research found that the (Baker) clause is not being implemented consistently across all schools and colleges.”

This week’s consultation document states that the six encounters must include, as a minimum:

  • Information about the provider and the approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships that they offer.
  • Information about the careers to which those qualifications or apprenticeships might lead.
  • A description of what learning or training with the provider is like.
  • Responses to questions from the pupils about the provider or approved technical education qualifications and Apprenticeships.

The proposals add: “Providers and schools should also consider how this information can be reinforced outside of the encounter itself and, for example, how the encounter can be supplemented with follow up resources that are specifically tailored to parents and carers.

“The school is required to give access to providers for a reasonable period of time during the standard school day. Schools must set out in their policy statement the times at which access is to be given and must explain how they will meet the new legal requirement to put on six provider encounters.”

Responding to the proposals this week, Simon Connell, chief executive of the Baker Dearing Education Trust, which was co-founded by Lord Baker and exists to support University Technical Colleges, said the key part of the proposals would be ensuring encounters are “meaningful”.

“With the introduction of T levels and ahead of the roll-out of higher technical qualifications this year, following the years of success young people have enjoyed with applied general qualifications, educating pupils about technical education options should now be unavoidable for schools.

“As the consultation notes, pupils have as strong an awareness of apprenticeships as A levels now. They want to know more about the technical options on offer from UTCs, colleges, and training providers, in concert with employers.

“We agree with the DfE that the encounter ought to be meaningful. Also, the department ought to come down hard on schools who try to cheat pupils and providers by using pre-recorded videos or simply distributing literature on technical options.

“We would encourage teachers to get ahead of the curve and start implementing these encounters now, so today’s pupils can make an informed decision about their next steps.”

  • DfE: Open consultation: Access to schools for education and training providers, June 2022 (closes July 25, 2022):


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