Careers education: Are you meeting the new guidelines?

One expert offers advice on satisfying the new careers education requirements that come into force in September 2018

Careers education

Year 11 are gone, the sun is shining and all the windows in your classroom are wide open. The next school year might feel an age away, but there are some things better not left to sort out in a panic during the last week of the holidays. Your school’s careers education policy is one of those things.

From September 2018, all state secondary schools and colleges in Britain will be required to appoint a ‘careers leader’. But what does this role look like? And what does it mean for careers education in schools?

Well, the government’s new careers strategy (announced in December 2017) recommends eight Gatsby benchmarks. The careers leader’s first task is to ensure that these guidelines are in place.

Here is what schools will be asked to provide in terms of careers education information, advice and guidance – and most importantly, some pointers about how leaders can deliver on them.

1. A stable careers programme  

Careers work should be promoted on the school website and advertised to students and parents. PSHE, Citizenship lessons or form time are ideal for regular careers work. The DOTS model (Law and Watts, 1977) highlights key areas of focus: decisions, opportunities, transitions and self-awareness.

2. Learning from career and labour market information

Ensure that teachers and students are aware of free user-friendly information sources such as icould.com, the National Careers Service, and LMI for All’s Careerometer. Put links on the school website, in the student planner, on noticeboards and in newsletters.

3. Addressing the needs of each student

Record individual career conversations electronically. Ensure all students know all careers are open to everyone. When students make choices, ask staff to check barriers to career goals and help them find ways to overcome these, for example: spending extra time studying science outside of school, joining a sports club or finding bursaries.

4. Linking curriculum learning to careers

Gatsby focuses on STEM, but employers also value creativity. Add a column to standard templates for schemes of work asking all teachers to specifically make connections with careers.

5. Encounters with employers and employees

Facilitating one employer connection a year for all students is achievable with this simple plan:

  • Year 7: Use parents for brief assembly talks about jobs.
  • Year 8: Bring in professionals to talk about their career choices. Use a careers personality test such as the tried and tested subscription services -  Fast Tomato from Morrisby, Kudos from Cascaid or the newer Startprofile from Uexplore, which is currently subscription free. 
  • Year 9: Ask each student to go to work with a parent or relative during the holidays and record their learning reflectively.
  • Year 10: Gear up for post-GCSE choices by visiting a skills/careers fair. Local funding may be available for travel.
  • Year 11: Invite apprentices, apprentice trainers and apprentice employers into school to ensure that all students know this is an alternative at 16, 18, and beyond.

6. Experiences of workplaces  

Post-GCSE Year 11 students should do some work experience. Encourage students and parents to organise this for themselves in the holidays if school resources are stretched. Short periods can be enough to help decision-making. More opportunities for work experience open up for post-16-year-olds and volunteering for charities or in hospitals becomes possible. 

7. Encounters with further and higher education

Local universities and colleges have teams of student ambassadors who can visit your school or offer campus activities. If you work with these ambassadors, ask them to be impartial about promoting higher education, and make sure that you get local apprenticeship ambassadors to visit as well.

8. Personal guidance  

Ideally all students should receive expert help. This is where the careers leader comes in. But, as a minimum, budgeting for an independent expert to see SEN, pupil premium, children in care, and ESL students will pay dividends in terms of providing these pupils with more secure destinations – and it shows Ofsted that you are catering to the careers needs of your most vulnerable pupils, too.

Liz Wynn Owen is an Independent Careers Adviser, Teacher and Writer.

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