Call to use Ofsted rating to enforce Baker clause

'Outstanding' should not be awarded to any school that doesn't open its doors to FE and skills providers, says AELP

Kate Parker

Ofsted should withhold 'Outstanding' grades if schools don't comply with Baker clause

Ofsted should withhold an "outstanding" grade to any school failing to allow FE and skills providers to come and speak to students, says the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).

As part of a five-point plan to “sort out England’s dysfunctional careers advice system”, AELP said that any school that does not comply with the Baker clause should not be graded as "outstanding". It adds that there should be at least three career-focused interactions per child with representatives of the FE and skills sector between Year 9 and Year 11.

The Baker clause was introduced in 2018, and obliges every school to allow further education providers access to students to inform them of their options.

BackgroundAgnew: Schools have responsibility to allow FE access

More: Milton: 'Too many providers blocked from going into schools'

News: Schools failing to publicise A-level alternatives

AELP chief executive Mark Dawe said that for many years, England has “totally failed” in offering its school children careers advice which “serves their best interests”. 

“Successive governments have tinkered around the edges wasting millions of pounds in the process and the overall approach has just been too soft.   

“To be fair, we know that ministers have become very frustrated at schools’ lack of compliance with the Baker Clause, but AELP’s 5-point plan gives the new ministerial team at the DfE the chance to go beyond that immediate issue and really get to the root of the problem by for example training teachers to understand the obvious benefits of apprenticeships and technical education.  Implementing this plan would show that the government is really serious about sorting out our woeful record on careers advice once and for all.”   

In February, then-academies minister Lord Agnew sent a letter to all schools urging them to honour the Baker Clause and open their doors to FE and skills providers.

He wrote: “As headteacher, you are under a statutory duty to publish a policy statement setting out details of the opportunities for providers of technical education and apprenticeships to visit your school/s to talk to all Year 8-13 pupils, and to make sure the statement is followed.

“I am grateful that many schools are taking steps to comply with this legislation, commonly known as the ‘Baker clause’. However, too many young people are still not given the chance to learn of different environments open to them and find out if technical education is right for them.”

In its plan, the AELP also calls for offering schools an incentive to promote apprenticeships, investment in better workforce development for teachers, facilitating collaboration between schools and training providers and refocusing existing careers guidance initiatives. 

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateParkerTes

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