In recent months, careers lessons have become the front-line in the battle between schools and colleges to attract students.
While schools are legally required to provide impartial, objective careers guidance on all post-16 options, funding cuts have resulted in growing concerns in the FE sector that many schools are simply not telling their students about what options are available at rival providers.
Indeed, stories about schools refusing to allow college prospectuses and preventing students from attending open days have been getting worryingly common.
A year ago, TES reported that a survey by the Pearson Think Tank found almost two-thirds of teachers and lecturers were concerned about the standard of careers advice on offer in schools.
Now the Association of Colleges (AoC) has upped the ante in its campaign to force the government to address the issue.
It has launched an online petition calling for all young people to “have access to careers advice on post-14 education, training and employment options”.
In order to achieve this, it says, the Department for Education must match the funding to the National Careers Service being provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It also calls for Ofsted to explicitly “inspect and report on all careers guidance in schools and colleges, ensuring staff who deliver careers advice are appropriately qualified”.
“Such institutions,” it continues, “should only be graded 'good' or 'outstanding' if they have 'good' or 'outstanding' careers advice”.
AoC president Michele Sutton said: “It’s crucial that young people have access to information about all the options which are available to them to enable them to make informed decisions about what career paths to pursue.
“AoC hopes that the campaign will improve the provision of careers advice available to students, so that websites such as the National Careers Service are engaging with and targeting people from a variety of backgrounds and being more effective in showing young people the variety of academic and vocational options available to them.”