Report schools that don't let you talk to pupils, minister tells colleges

Schools that flout their new legal obligation to allow training organisations the chance to speak to pupils about technical qualifications and apprenticeships should be reported to the government, the skills minister has said.

In her monthly column for Schools Week’s sister paper FE Week, Anne Milton said further education providers should report ANY non-compliance with the so-called “Baker clause” to the Department for Education.

The rule – named for its orchestrator, the former education secretary Lord Baker – became a legal requirement for schools on January 2. It means every school must give training providers access to every pupil in years 8 to 13, so they can find out about non-academic routes.

Schools must also publish a policy statement on their websites, detailing how to arrange access, which premises or facilities can be used, and the grounds for granting or refusing requests.
In January, a Schools Week investigation found most large academy trusts had failed to meet the duty, prompting both Baker and Robert Halfon, the chair of the parliamentary education committee and Milton’s predecessor as skills minister, to write to the government demanding action.

As a result of the new duty, I expect to see schools setting up careers events, assemblies and options evenings so that providers can talk to pupils

This week, Milton told colleges and other training providers to take matters into their own hands and “let me know” if they face problems with schools.

“As a result of the new duty, I expect to see schools setting up careers events, assemblies and options evenings so that providers can talk to pupils about what they offer and what it is like to learn in a different environment,” she wrote.

Milton said the Baker Clause should be “the start of a change in how schools and parents look at what young people do in future, and give all pupils access to these exciting career options”.
“Please get in touch with your local school or college and find out how you can support them, and if you have any problems do let me know.”

Of the 10 largest academy trusts with secondary schools investigated by Schools Week in January, just two, The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) and Delta Academies Trust, provided copies of their policy statement.

Ark Schools, Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), the David Ross Education Trust and Oasis Community Learning admitted that they had yet to comply with the new legal requirements.
The Harris Federation did not respond to Schools Week’s enquiries, though we did find a document on one of its academy’s websites which appeared to contain the relevant information. United Learning and Ormiston Academies Trust did not respond at all.

At the time, Baker said he was not surprised.

“We know that many schools will try to resist this, but it’s very important that it should be implemented more rigorously.”