“Schools cannot be trusted” with careers advice, says report

Schools cannot be trusted to give careers advice in the best interest of young people, says a report released today by the education select committee.

The report “Apprenticeships and Traineeships for 16 to 19-year-olds” was launched at the annual conference of Schools Week’s sister publication FE Week, by committee chairman Graham Stuart.

The committee said schools favoured the academic route, which was also the cultural preference, and were led by “incentives” to fill sixth form places rather than offering alternatives to young people.

The cross-party group of MPs said schools could not be trusted to give careers advice which was aligned to its pupils’ interests.

The report also warned against media reports of GCSE and A Level results data, saying the limitation of data, particularly at A Level, towards “academic” results over vocational may encourage schools to favour more traditional routes.

A report in 2013 by Ofsted said only one in five schools were offering “good” careers advice.

The report said: “We recommend that the Government urgently review the incentives for schools to provide good quality careers advice and recognise that the mantra of “trusting schools” does not work when the interests of schools and young people are not aligned.”

Mr Stuart said: “Apprenticeships are a viable, high quality alternative, to more academic routes and should not be seen or presented as a second class option for young people. Strong efforts must be made to challenge prevailing attitudes that unduly favour academic routes and block access to information about apprenticeships.

“Schools need to provide their pupils with far better information on apprenticeships and the potential value of early experience in the workplace.

“The Government must review and improve the incentives used to ensure schools provide good quality, balanced careers advice and work experience for their pupils.”

David Harbourne, Edge’s Policy and Research Director, said: “The Education Committee’s comments on careers guidance absolutely hit the nail on the head. In their words, ‘the mantra of “trusting schools” does not work when the interests of schools and young people are not aligned’. All young people – and their parents – should be given impartial information about apprenticeships so they can make informed choices.”

In December, education secretary Nicky Morgan announced a new “employer-led” careers company to boost careers advice in schools.

Funding for the new body will initially come from a share of £20 million for careers advice announced by the chancellor in the Autumn Statement, although over time she said it would become self-funded.

It will be chaired by Christine Hodgson, chairman of management consultancy firm Capgemini.

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