Schools lack time and money to focus on careers advice for their students, the Department for Education official responsible for careers guidance has been told.
Appearing at an event in London this morning, the DfE’s team leader for careers and basic skills, Maria Sciara, was repeatedly challenged that schools do not have time to concentrate on careers because they are “weighed down with so many other agendas”.
One member of the audience told Ms Sciara: “Having been a teacher and seen the conflicting priorities that heads have, to what extent can careers be a high priority?
“Heads have just got so many things they’re focusing on and careers is very low down their agenda.”
Another member of the audience – a teacher from Norfolk – told her: “There’s a slight elephant in the room.
“We need to remember that teachers are balancing [careers advice] with Progress 8, the focus on maths and English, literacy, numeracy, safeguarding, SEND, Prevent, pupil premium, increased content and exam specs, new specifications, the fear of performance-related pay, increased class sizes, less learning assistant support."
He went on: “We’re fighting against colleagues who are saying [pupils] can’t afford time out of the classroom.
“Given that we’re weighed down with so many other agendas, realistically how do we do it?”
Careers advice 'shouldn't be a burden'
Ms Sciara said that the challenge over competing priorities was “a completely relevant point”.
However, she said that embedding careers advice in the curriculum “should not provide a burden on teachers”.
“We’ve got a very clear message from the secretary of state… about reducing teachers' burdens and teacher workload.”
Ms Sciara was also challenged on funding for careers advice. Laura Jane-Rawlings, the founder and chief executive of Youth Employment UK, told her: “One of the challenges that we are often hearing from young people is that they are still not getting the face-to-face advice in schools that they really believe they would benefit from.
“What seems to be missing is the appropriate funding into schools to support the recruitment and placement of trained advisers.”
Ms Sciara said the government would shortly be publishing a "prospectus", which will allow schools and colleges to bid for funding to help disadvantaged young people.
During the event, Ms Sciara said the DfE still had “confidence” in the Careers and Enterprise Company, after the organisation’s leaders were criticised by members of the Commons education committee last week for not being able to demonstrate that it offered value for money.
“We have full confidence in the Careers and Enterprise Company,” she said.
“What we will be doing is reflecting upon what happened at the education selection committee and just learning lessons from that.
“The role of the Careers and Enterprise Company will not have changed since [committee chair] Robert Halfon’s grilling.”