Teachers should focus on all students, not just those who need the most, says David Andrews
Careers services are being asked to focus their provision on "those who need it most". This category extends beyond the so-called "disaffected" and includes others who are at risk of disengaging from learning, such as 16-19 year old students who discover they have made an inappropriate choice of A-levels.
The changes highlight the need for a universal entitlement to careers education. All students will need to gain knowledge and understanding of learning routes beyond compulsory education and to develop career management skills. By assessing how far students have progressed in their learning, teachers can then make informed diagnoses of who needs what levels of careers guidance.
The review of the national curriculum provides an opportunity to secure an entitlement to careers education for all. It is already part of the statutory curriculum in Years 9 to ll. Teachers are not seeking a detailed prescription of what to teach but they would welcome a recommended framework of learning outcomes and content which they could modify to meet the needs of their students.
My organisation, the National Association of Careers and Guidance Teachers, has called for a framework for careers education to sit alongside equivalent specifications for other statutory elements of the curriculum. What is needed is an attainment target and programmes of study for key stages 3 and 4. Schools can then be left to design their own curriculums to meet the requirements.
Such a framework would be a substantial help to careers co-ordinators, who have the role of managing and leading this area of the curriculum.
They are the subject leaders for their area of the curriculum - careers education and guidance - and should be seen as having a role and the status equivalent to subject leaders for other curriculum areas such as English, history, etc. It is for this reason that my association has taken the Teacher Training Agency's National Standards for Subject Leaders and published a booklet illustrating how these standards can be exemplified for the role of careers coordinator.
Careers education can no longer be left at the margins of a school's work. Schools should be concerned with preparing young people to make the best of the opportunities that lay ahead for them.
This will require an entitlement to a clearly specified provision of careers education, planned within the curriculum by a properly trained subject leader for careers education and guidance.
David Andrews is immediate past president of the National Association of Careers and Guidance Teachers.