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School careers advice is “nothing less than appalling”, college leader claims

The quality of careers advice in schools is “nothing less than appalling”, the president of the Association of Colleges (AoC) has claimed.

At the AoC’s annual conference in Birmingham this week, Michele Sutton will call on Prime Minister David Cameron to “get a move on” in tackling the “disgraceful” quality of information, advice and guidance offered by schools.

The outspoken criticism follows last week’s launch of an AoC petition calling on the government to provide more careers funding for schools, and make the subject a more prominent part of Ofsted inspections.

While schools are legally required to provide impartial, objective careers guidance on all post-16 options, there have been growing concerns in recent years that many are failing to tell their students about what courses are available at rival providers.

In her conference speech tomorrow, Bradford College principal Ms Sutton will tell delegates at the International Convention Centre that the government must play its part in preventing young people dropping out of education, employment or training.

“Principals across the country agree that the quality of impartial careers advice and guidance is nothing less than appalling,” she will tell the conference. “We must take every opportunity to make this point or young people will continue to make uninformed choices about their futures.

“The Prime Minister himself has noted that too few young people are told about their vocational options, including apprenticeships, and that policy changes are needed. I would say to him - please get a move on. The longer this disgraceful situation exists, the longer term effect there is on students.”

In September, Ofsted published a critical report which revealed that three quarters of schools it surveyed failed to offer impartial advice and guidance for their pupils. In January, the Commons Education Select Committee also called on the government to take further action to ensure schools comply with their legal duty.

Ms Sutton is also expected to tell the conference: “Too many young people, usually those who need advice the most, miss out. They end up in the wrong institution, usually school sixth forms, doing the wrong course, and recently published Education Funding Agency data shows that schools lose 50 per cent of their pupils between year 11 and year 13.  How many end up not in education, employment and training?”

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