More articles and what not…

What a way to kick off the new half term, back into one of the colleges I work with for two days this week doing interviewing workshops, just firming up dates with the school I work with on oracy and setting up a debating society and an another article published in The Conduit Magazine (

The full article is reprinted here…

In December 2017, we saw the DfE issue a new guidance on the necessity for a reinvigorated approach to careers related learning. The new Careers Strategy, as introduced by Anne Milton MP, is certainly to be welcomed but is it all mouth no trousers?

Certainly, there is much to be applauded in the 36-page briefing, but lofty goals and high-level wish lists are hardly a rarity in government documents. A lot of the back patting regarding the work they’ve been doing over the last two years, whilst I’m certainly is factually accurate, doesn’t seem to gel with my own experiences. This has become something of a preoccupation for me over the last few years, as a father of three, a school governor and someone who had spent 15 years working in recruitment I was constantly shocked by the hands off, “it’s a fad” approach to careers guidance. So I started doing something about it. Or trying to, but it seemed that most of the schools I dealt with refused to acknowledge there was an issue. So I contacted journalists and it turns out they didn’t much care either. So I wrote a book instead!

That’s why I for one was very excited to see a new careers strategy, until I read it and the same creeping concerns came along. I worry about the reliance on co-opting businesses to go into schools, whilst there’s undoubtedly benefit to these kinds of enrichment activities, the type and quality of the presenter and the business are key and that will vary wildly based on geography. Forging links with even a handful of local businesses can only ever represent a fairly myopic view of the career paths that can be forged and will by definition marginalise many students not interested in that particular sector or job type.

The best part of the new strategy are the timetabled, very specific targets that will now be statutory for schools to be answerable about their provision; no longer will it be the case that a wafty assurance that ‘we do all this’ will be considered enough – that is to be applauded.

The focus on encouraging technical and apprenticeships routes is also to be welcomed but I worry that societal pressure and league table performance based on A Level results and destinations, may still lead to a disproportionate push toward university regardless of its suitability for everyone.

Fundamentally, there is much to be applauded in the strategy, but successive governments, Ofsted, the Sutton Trust and employers have been screaming out for better provision, which has hitherto been paid lip-service to. Having an appointed Careers Leader is a great thing to encourage but most schools will already have ticked that box. This is not something that can be juggled around being Head of Geography and nor should it be, it should be a standalone, 40 hours a week full-time professional. Outside expertise should be brought in when necessary for specialist provision to help co-ordinate a breadth of activities and offer counsel to the students, as well as advice to staff. Anything less than that is a slap in the face to the students and no better than the current system. So, I keep my fingers crossed but don’t hold my breath.


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