The Sutton Trust Paving the Way Report: a response

Today The Sutton Trust released their Paving The Way Report and their findings make for some difficult reading. The report is a thorough examination of Careers Guidance in Secondary Schools and they found that although improvements have been made in the 8 years since they last looked at this there is too often variability in careers provision. Differences can clearly be seen between state schools with more and less deprived intakes, and between state and private schools. Below we take a look at the most hard to read findings but also shine a light on the recommendations for government, the CEC and schools/colleges/governing boards.

The report clearly identifies what school leaders and classroom teachers feel the barriers are. Working with both of these groups we would absolutely echo what they are saying here and in the conversations that we are having with them:

  • Teacher training didn’t and doesn’t prepare teachers in the delivery of careers information and guidance
  • Lack of funding for schools to deliver careers information and guidance
  • 32% of state school teachers report that they don’t have enough funding to deliver careers information and guidance, compared to just 6% in private schools.
  • 51% of state school teachers believe there isn’t enough staff time to deliver careers information and guidance, compared to 34% in private schools
  • Schools in deprived areas are less likely to have access to a specialist careers adviser. 21% in those reported that non-specialists delivered personal guidance, compared to 14% in more affluent areas.
  • State schools have been hit significantly harder from the pandemic when it comes to delivering careers.

It isn’t all bad…almost half (47%) of state school teachers want to see a funding uplift for Careers education. This funding is to allow staff to fully concentrate on their careers role as well as facilitate better pay and recognition for Careers Leaders.

The recommendations

With some minor adjustments, they are exactly where they should be. That said, if someone asked us for a wish list of recommendations, then it’s fair to say that these would be on it.

Yes – we feel that an error was made when the government didn’t renew the last strategy. The Skills for Jobs White Paper didn’t go far enough but an emphasis on skills is important and should be integrated within any new Careers strategy that should come in.

Yes – we’re not sure what other language to use here when we are in such wholehearted agreement with this. The only thing we would offer here is that any funding needs to be ringfenced and schools must report back on how it has been spent. This can then be scrutinised through the inspection process.

Yes (in principal) – this is a great recommendation but in practice this will be hard for schools to achieve. We can all agree that careers education has the most impact where it permeates all aspects of school – culture right through to curriculum areas, often creating the much needed bridge from life to education. However, schools or Careers leaders need the freedom to work with other school leaders to find the best fit into curriculum. A fix to this could be that we work with exam boards could be found to ensure that careers content is written into GCSE/A Level specifications and also into KS2/KS3. Furthermore, ensuring that schools make links to essential employability skills in the lessons might also be a solution.

On the piece around ITT, 100% agree!

Yes – this can come from additional ringfenced funding not existing limited and often non-existed careers budgets.

Yes – this seems like a good and sensible solution to incentivise schools to implement the statutory requirements – this could include some support in how to consistently display this information on the schools website, followed through with data validation in an inspection.

Yes – we would also suggest a separation between Careers Leadership training and Careers Advisor training. As it stands the current funding attempts to satisfy both of these things. However, if we’re serious about making sure that CLs roles are giving more time and prestige then they cannot be expected to be both leader and advisor. Those two roles are far too important to be spread thinly across one person.

Yes – there is an issue with schools clawing back lost learning wherever possible, this includes releasing students for careers interventions and events.

There is some evidence that actually there is an appetite for CL to be an SLT position. I have added a couple of articles that focus on the importance of a whole school approach and that of leadership as well. The biggest issues for CLs is that they don’t have enough time or prestige with their roles. Often it is a role that is tagged on to other responsibilities and often doesn’t carry any additional money. These two recommendations get to the heart of how the importance of the role can be amplified. &

…and on governors, 100%

What do you think? Let us know your feelings on the report below the line on our social channels.

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