Apprentice numbers and Careers advice

Ofsted’s Sir Michael Wilshaw recently briefed the new Education Select Committee and answered questions on the role of Ofsted in education. One of the more striking questions related to destination data in schools and colleges and the importance of appropriate career advice for young people.

Ofsted’s focus will be on ensuring that young people are aware of the options available and, in particular, the opportunity to do apprenticeships from the age of 16. They will question head teachers about post-16 options, careers advice, and numbers going on to apprenticeships:

"That’s really important and that’s going to be a big emphasis this year. We are going to be asking a lot more about careers guidance than ever before… The fact we’ve only got 6% of youngsters going into apprenticeships is a disaster, and it’s really important that schools are fair on their youngsters and make sure that all options are put to them.”(Sir Michael Wilshaw, as reported by FE Week, 21st September 2015).

This is also a key area in the new common inspection framework under the leadership and management category (from September 2015), which requires schools to: ‘Successfully plan and manage learning programmes… so that all children and learners get a good start and are well prepared for the next stage in their education, training or employment’.

Drawing on my experience as a school leader, I would suggest this marks a shift by Ofsted towards a greater focus on Careers Information, Advice and Guidance – an area which has been neglected somewhat in recent years. Wilshaw’s statement, in particular, puts pressure on school leaders to channel significant resources and time into preparing students for post-16 destinations.

As concerns have grown over how we are preparing our young people for life after Key Stage 4, ASDAN has been working hard behind the scenes to develop curriculum resources to address this very issue. The Vocational Tasters in Computing, Hair and Beauty, Hospitality, Land Based Sector, Manufacturing and Uniformed Services provide a framework to introduce young people to different employment sectors and raise awareness of apprenticeship opportunities.

Better than this, they actually give the learner the opportunity to gain a ‘taste’ for what it would be like to do an apprenticeship. Each of these Vocational Tasters has a module based on learners finding out about ‘Careers in…’ that sector, encouraging them to use independent learning skills to find out information which will lead to more informed choices about their next stage.

I would encourage all school leaders and teachers involved in careers education to look seriously at the Ofsted CIF requirements for an inspection to gain a good or outstanding outcome. ASDAN is offering a solution for young people to get 'prepared for the next stage in their education, training or employment' and a way to improve on the '6% of youngsters going into apprenticeships'.

Author: Gareth Lewis, Former ASDAN National Development Co-ordinator

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