Every school should have access to new careers hubs, says Augar review

All schools must have access to new careers hubs and be held to account for the advice and guidance they provide, a landmark review of post-18 education has said.

The review, by Philip Augar (pictured below), mostly focuses on further and higher education, but also warns of “weaknesses in the provision of information, advice and guidance” provided to school pupils.

The document recommends that the government’s careers strategy be rolled out nationally “so that every secondary school is able to be part of a careers hub, that training is available to all careers leaders and that more young people have access to meaningful careers activities and encounters with employers”.

Careers hubs are still very much in their infancy, with the first only having been launched last year. The Careers and Enterprise Company, which runs the careers hubs scheme and distributes the funding on behalf of the government, has reported “rapid improvement in careers support” in the first wave of 20 hubs, with progress strongest in disadvantaged areas.

The hubs were a key tenet of the government’s careers strategy, which was finally released in late 2017 after almost two years of anticipation and several re-launches.

So far, 39 areas have been signed up to the £7.5 million programme, involving 1,300 schools.

The Augar review recognises the “promising start” made with the strategy, but laments the fact that careers support is “still underfunded”.

“[We] recommend that the strategy is rolled out nationally so that every secondary school is able to be part of a careers hub, that training is available to all careers leaders and that more young people have access to meaningful careers activities and encounters with employers.”

The review goes on to say that schools “should be held to account for their statutory responsibility to provide [information, advice and guidance”.

Ofsted already looks at the quality of careers education in schools, and won’t rate a secondary school’s personal development, behaviour and welfare efforts as ‘outstanding’ unless the school can demonstrate that “high quality, impartial careers guidance helps pupils to make informed choices about which courses suit their academic needs and aspirations”.

The watchdog’s new inspection framework, which comes into effect this September, won’t rate schools as ‘good’ unless they use the government-favoured Gatsby benchmarks for good careers advice to develop and improve their provision.

The review is also supportive of the Baker Clause, a statutory duty on schools to allow other education providers to speak to pupils about their options, but it says it was “disappointed to learn that there is evidence that schools still fail to tell pupils about the full range of post-18 options”.

“We welcome Ofsted’s focus on schools’ provision of independent advice, careers guidance and opportunities for pupils to encounter the world of work, as part of judging pupils’ personal development.”