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Secondary Education: Vocational Guidance

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL506, tabled on 24 May 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the effectiveness of careers advice in secondary schools.

Answered on

7 June 2021

We are continually reviewing the effectiveness of careers policy. We are aware that information on education or training options provided by schools at key transition points too often fails to correct, or even reinforces, the impression that technical education, including apprenticeships, is somehow second-best to academic study.

Through the ‘Baker Clause’, introduced in January 2018, all maintained schools and academies must publish a policy statement setting out opportunities for providers of technical education courses and apprenticeships to visit schools to talk to all year 8 to year 13 pupils, and to make sure that the policy is followed.

A January 2019 report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that, whilst one in three schools say the situation improved in the year since the Baker Clause was introduced, only 40% of schools were complying with the Baker Clause.

In the Skills for Jobs White Paper, the department announced plans to go further to improve compliance with the Baker Clause through the introduction of a 3-point-plan. This is an important step towards real choice for every pupil. We will create clear minimum legal requirements, specifying who is to be given access to which pupils and when. We will take tougher formal action to enforce compliance. The government’s investment in careers will be conditional on Baker Clause compliance.

Through the work of the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC), we are increasing young people’s exposure to the world of work and supporting schools and colleges to achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Career Guidance. As set out in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, we will continue the national roll-out of Careers Hubs, digital support, Careers Leader training and the Enterprise Adviser Network to all secondary schools in England. This will continue to accelerate the progress of all schools and colleges towards achieving the Gatsby Benchmarks so that all young people are equipped to make informed career and learning decisions.

We have also committed in the Skills for Jobs White Paper to take steps to improve both local and national alignment between the CEC and the National Careers Service to create a clear, all-age careers system. Professor Sir John Holman has been appointed as Independent Strategic Adviser on Careers Guidance and will advise on closer alignment of the National Careers Service and the CEC, based around 4 important principles:

  • Completing the national roll-out of careers infrastructure
  • Developing an enhanced National Careers Service website
  • Better collaboration at an area-level
  • Complementary personal guidance for young people

The department is working closely with Professor Sir John Holman, the National Careers Service and CEC to agree what further action that can be taken across all 4 principles to make sure that young people and adults have access to a joined-up careers offer across their lifetime.