Schools will be forced to promote technical education from January

A law that will force schools to let colleges, apprenticeship providers and University Technical Colleges talk to pupils about their study options will come into force in January, according to guidance published this morning by the Department for Education.

The rule also requires schools to have a plan for how they will arrange the visits, which must occur at “important transition points” in the school year.

The so-called “Baker clause”, an amendment to the technical and further education act written by the former education secretary Kenneth Baker and enshrined into law in May, will come into effect on January 2.

Even Lord Baker, who served under Thatcher, has said he expects the move to be “met with great hostility in every school in the country”

All schools must publish a policy statement outlining how providers can access the school

According to the guidance, all local-authority-maintained schools and academies “must give education and training providers the opportunity to talk to pupils in years 8 to 13 about approved technical qualifications and apprenticeships”.

Schools must also have “clear arrangements in place” to ensure that all pupils have opportunities to hear from providers of post-14, post-16 and post-18 options “at, and leading up to, important transition points”.

All schools must also publish a policy statement outlining how providers can access the school, the rules for granting and refusing access and what providers can expect once granted access.

Lord Baker, the architect of the controversial UTC programme, proposed his amendment while the technical and further education bill was passing through the House of Lords in February.

He accused schools of “resisting” those who tried to promote more vocational courses to their pupils, and insisted that “every word” of his proposed clause was needed because it would be “met with great hostility in every school in the country”.

The amendment was not challenged by the former academies minister Lord Nash, who at the time was the government’s education spokesperson in the Lords.

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. It’s right that schools should give info about UTCs, apprenticeships etc but making it a statutory requirement for schools to “give education and training providers the opportunity to talk to pupils in years 8 to 13 about approved technical qualifications and apprenticeships” is misguided.
    Far better to have a high-quality careers education and guidance programme which introduces pupils to all post-16 and post-18 options when appropriate. Herding pupils into the hall to listen to lengthy spiels about particular options is a poor substitute.

      • Mark – my heart sinks at making it a statutory requirement for schools to allow employers and others to speak to all pupils about post 16/18 options. It’s probably the least useful method of passing this important info to pupils. So, no, it isn’t a step in the right direction.
        Far better for schools to have a careers education and guidance programme which, among other things, gives full, unbiased and impartial info about post 16/18 options. This programme should be part of Ofsted’s criteria when judging schools.
        Expecting pupils to miss teaching time to listen to a spiel from employers, recruiters etc is ineffective and counterproductive. How many of these talks would pupils be subjected to and when? Expecting Y11 or Y13 to miss lessons in the run up to exams isn’t the best use of their time.
        That’s not to say pupils shouldn’t have access to employers etc if they’re interested in a particular careers. At the school I taught we invited a wide range of employers to meet interested pupils in informal meetings over coffee. The pupils would be responsible for meeting, greeting, preparing questions, hospitality and thanking their guest afterwards. This was far better than allowing the same employer to lecture all pupils.
        For more info re CEG see my article here:

        • Mark Watson

          Respectfully, I think you’re confusing two different things.
          I agree that having employers come in and speak to pupils about life after school is an important part of, but certainly not a replacement for, good careers advice.
          But as I read the story above, this isn’t about looking at what happens when children leave education, it’s about what type of education they are exposed to.
          Because of how schools have been funded/ranked/viewed since the year dot, there is very little incentives on schools to expose children (and the parents) to the options outside mainstream education. I know personally of many schools that never discuss the existence of FE colleges, let along how they might be the ‘right’ choice for some of their children. I’m not an expert on UTCs, but I think it’s likely the same applies to them.
          So as I see it, this isn’t about employers coming in and trying to recruit/advertise to kids, it’s about forcing schools to explain to children there are other options outside the mainstream academic route.

  2. My evidence to the Education Select Committee in December 2015 as part of its Careers Advice inquiry is linked below. It includes an appendix summarising the careers education and guidance programme which existed at my school. The range of activities on offer shows how making it mandatory for employers and others to talk to all pupils is a poor substitute for a well-designed CEG programme.