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Leadership, OFSTED

Ofsted aren’t Interested in Careers Guidance by @CareersDefender

This will be the first ever guest post on my blog and to be honest I rather set myself up for it.  Janet Colledge (@CareersDefender) politely enquired why the various Ofsted Resources I had produced, to help schools and school leaders, didn’t have more of a focus on Careers Education, Information, Advice & Guidance (CEIAG) given the latest pronouncements from Ofsted.  This was my reply …

Photo Credit: Stampest via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Stampest via Compfight cc

“My experience of what Ofsted Central say and what inspectors do is that the two are very different.  No inspector has ever given two hoots about CEIAG in any inspection that I have been involved in, the whole thing is data driven basically around achievement.  Everything else follows this data though I have once discussed destination data with an inspector.”

Time for Janet to gently put me straight …

This is a common response. Why on earth should head teachers worry about careers, their job is to ensure the school runs effectively and that the pupils get the best possible exam results given the rapidly changing vista of exam modifications, the upcoming competition from University Technolgy Colleges, studio schools and, if the school has a 6th form, the retention of pupils to fill your Key Stage 5…

Society treats head teachers and teachers in general, as the panacea for all ills in the world.  Girls with skewed body image, get it in the curriculum.  The rise in gang culture, how are schools going to address this?  So careers are just one more thing to add to the ever growing list of things you ‘should do’.

Unasked for responsibility

Since March 2012, schools have had responsibility for careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG).  The responsibility thumped upon your desk without any extra training or budget.  It was so much easier when Connexions came in and did what they had to do, but no, the Government decreed, that now, schools have to take this responsibility and what’s more there’s no extra money for it.  It was rather like asking a dentist to perform an appendectomy.  He has sort of relevant knowledge but not the in-depth understanding needed to do a really good job.

Photo Credit: cseeman via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: cseeman via Compfight cc

Not surprisingly many head teachers were perplexed and questions querying what was expected fluttered around Twitter and various online forums.  Even the statutory guidance which came out in March 2013 led to more questions than answers.  For many, it just fluttered down to the bottom of a very long to do list.

The Government in their infinite wisdom sent Ofsted off to have a look at how schools were coping.  After a long delay, a thematic review was published, which basically said four out of five schools were not doing as good a job as they should.  So from last September Ofsted has placed new emphasis on careers guidance.  So if you’ve not been inspected in the last few months you may be in for a surprise.

The Current Ofsted Situation

I’ve spoken to seven people, in the last two months all of which have been inspected since Christmas.  Not a huge number I know, but they were all in post as either senior or middle leaders with responsibility for CEIAG.  They report everything from “I had to explain to the inspector what they should be looking for” to “I had a 20 minute solo interview and they asked for 5 years of destinations data.” 

In general, six out of seven reported a more focussed emphasis on CEIAG.  Add to this the reply to the freedom of information request I submitted asking for clarification on the role of CEIAG in inspections (found here) I’d not like to take the risk that your inspector won’t be interested, especially since the judgement forms part of the criteria for leadership and management.

New Statutory Guidance

It took eight months to arrive, one of the first things it says in the key points is, “Ofsted has been giving careers guidance a higher priority in school inspections since September 2013.” If you can’t face the full document, a synopsis for head teachers and governors was published on my blog.

Along with the statutory guidance came a second document, a twenty six page advice document. The bottom line is the DFE & Ofsted are beefing up the National Careers Service from October to help support you, though that will only take the edge off the internal need for co-ordination as it is expected that a stream of employers, advisers, colleges, mentors and organisations will be invited into school to support career aspiration building activities.  The only way to find time for these activities is to spread them throughout the curriculum. I can’t see any school being able to deliver what the government are asking for without a in house co-ordinator.  Be they an administrator or a careers adviser or even a teacher, somebody needs to know what’s going on because statutory guidance tells us that monitoring and targeting of activities through information and data is required, as is quality control.

Oh Yes, By the Way

The new SEND agenda requires that the Education & Health Care Plans for young people sets out a plan for their preparation for adulthood, based mainly around the independent living and employment options.

The Way Forward

A head teacher’s job is about ensuring they have people around them to guarantee that the school does its best to achieve what it needs to deliver. Now, whilst your budget is at the forefront of you mind, look to see what kind of co-ordination you can put in place and send them on a course to ensure they know what is expected of them, or get them support. There are a number of courses running in the next few months, I know, I’m speaking or delivering workshops at a good few of them.



Also there are a good number of support organisations, of which my consultancy is just one.  The bottom line though, is that it can be done on a shoe string, there is a lot of free and low cost support out there, but you need somebody with up to date and focussed understanding of CEIAG to oversee the job.

Well now that’s me told 😉



4 thoughts on “Ofsted aren’t Interested in Careers Guidance by @CareersDefender

  1. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

    Posted by heatherfblog | April 21, 2014, 8:20 am
  2. A very useful commentary – which reflects the issues around understanding and managing Careers Guidance programmes. These concerns were also anticipated by Anthony Barnes (AG Barnes) and Mark Wilkinson (CfBT) who are both well known in the CEIAG community. As a result AIM Awards have worked with Mark and Anthony to create the AIM Awards Level 4 Certificate in Skills in Managing Careers Guidance in a Learning Environment – also available as a series of smaller Awards which reflect the topics of designing and developing programmes, managing contracts, evaluating and quality assuring this against Careers Standards and other quality standards ( aka Ofsted). These QCF qualifications are available now to support schools and their managers. For further information contact AIM Awards on 01332 861999

    Posted by Sue Jones | April 29, 2014, 11:05 am
  3. Reblogged this on Careers Defender.

    Posted by careersdefender | May 8, 2014, 11:22 am
  4. Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write once more soon!

    Posted by pcscour.us | June 12, 2014, 4:31 am

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