DfE to toughen up Baker Clause and extend careers requirement to year 7s

Schools will face “tougher formal action” if they don’t comply with a requirement to allow other providers access to talk about study options with their pupils.

The government’s skills for jobs white paper, published today, has also revealed the requirement to provide careers education will be extended to year 7s.

The government wants to make sure careers education is “embedded in the life of every school and college”.

There will be a “three-point-plan to enforce the Baker Clause”, with “tougher formal action against non-compliance”.

However, the white paper has few further details apart from a pledge to publish new statutory guidance.

Named after former education secretary Lord Baker, who initiated the change to the law that happened in 2018, the rules force schools to let colleges, apprenticeship providers and University Technical Colleges talk to pupils about potential study routes. It also requires schools to have a plan to arrange visits at “important transition points” in the school year.

This will now include a new minimum requirement “about who is to be given access to which pupils and when”. Government-funded careers support for schools will also be made conditional on Baker Clause compliance.

Other than ministers issuing warning letters, little action has been taken so far on schools flouting the rules.

Although in May last year Ofsted rapped the first school for flouting the rule.

The government has also committed to lowering the age range of an existing duty on schools to provide independent careers guidance, requiring schools to offer this support from year 7. Currently, it only has to be offered from year 8.

It will also ask Ofsted to undertake a “thematic review to provide an up-to-date assessment of careers guidance in schools and colleges and provide recommendations to improve practice”.

Pledge to improve careers education

The white paper also states that the government wants careers education and guidance “embedded in the life of every school and college”.

It pledges to work with the education sector and business “to develop a shared approach to careers education that will support young people to understand the modern workplace and develop the career management skills and attributes they need to compete in today’s labour market”.

There is also a pledge to “equip the teaching profession to support a whole-school or college approach to careers education by building careers awareness into every stage of their professional development, from initial training to education leadership”.

However, the white paper acknowledges that at present the careers landscape is “confusing”, with “no single place you can go to get government-backed, comprehensive careers information”.

Advice young people receive from family and friends is “often outdated and varies greatly according to their socio-economic background”.

To combat this, the government has announced it will update the National Careers Service (NCS) website to “become a single source of government-assured careers information for young people and adults”.

The updated website will bring together all learning and careers routes available, “along with improved content on work experience, applying for roles, and updated labour market information”.

The government’s Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) will encourage use of the site” as part of careers education in schools and colleges”. It will include new interactive careers maps, “which will show the occupations and career options that technical or higher technical education can open the door to”.

To improve local and national alignment between the CEC and the NCS, professor Sir John Holman has been appointed as an independent strategic adviser on careers guidance, working closely with both organisations.

The government has also pledged to continue to extend coverage of its careers hubs programme, and to invest in “more high-quality training” for careers leaders.

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