Schools will be legally forced to let colleges and apprenticeship providers talk to pupils about the opportunities they can offer, under new plans announced today.
The aim of the move is to reduce “an outdated snobbery” towards apprenticeships, education secretary Nicky Morgan said.
“For many young people going to university will be the right choice, and we are committed to continuing to expand access to Higher Education, but for other young people the technical education provided by apprenticeships will suit them better,” she said.
Leaders within further education have long complained that schools do not always give impartial information to pupils about their options, particularly when schools are trying to sell their own post-16 provision.
Schools are already legally obliged to provide careers guidance. A rule change in 2012 saw local authorities stripped of this responsibility with schools taking over.
But a report by Ofsted in 2013 found that three-quarters of schools failed to equally promote vocational options.
The announcement today has been welcomed by Martin Doel, of the Association of Colleges, who said: “Colleges recognise the critical nature of good careers education and will be very keen to continue to work together with their local schools. This announcement will make that a reality.”
Several companies with large numbers of apprentices already have close links with schools. Weapons manufacturer BAE systems is the sponsor of a school in Cumbria, while Rolls Royce is a co-sponsor of the Cabot Learning Federation which has schools across the South-West of England.
University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are also to be included in the plans for access to pupils. These vocationally-oriented schools enrol pupils at 14 but have struggled to fill places – with some only filling 12 per cent of seats. UTC leaders have blamed this on the difficulty of advertising to pupils already in secondary schools.
The government will provide more information in a forthcoming “careers strategy’ plan.