Careers advice is ‘affecting school results’

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RELYING on schools to deliver careers advice has created a postcode lottery in the quality of guidance being offered which is harming social mobility, according to a report published today.

New research shows a link between the quality of career advice a school provides and the success of its pupils at both GCSE and A-level.

For the past two years schools and colleges have had a legal duty to provide careers advice after the coalition took this responsibilty away from the Connexions service.

The Government also created a new National Careers Service in 2012 which offers telephone and web based advice for students.

The Sutton Trust charity, which works to promote social mobility, warned today that changes had resulted in “a decline in the quality and quantity of the career guidance available to young people in England and the emergence of a ‘postcode lottery’ where some young people have access to much better career guidance than others.”

It said the legal duty placed on schools from 2012 was accompanied by weak statutory guidance and little help or support.

Now the Sutton Trust is calling on the Government to strengthen the National Careers Service so that it provides face to face advise to students who need it.

It also wants schools’ legal duty to include having to demonstrate to parents what careers advice they are providing.

Conor Ryan, director of research at the Sutton Trust, said: “The overall decline in good guidance is harming social mobility. Having the right advice is key to young people making the right decisions.

“Those without good networks and family contacts lose out when career guidance is poor.

“Less advantaged young people must know all their options, whether it is the right apprenticeship, college course or university.”

The new report has been produced by Derby University professor Tristram Hooley. Research compared schools which had received a ‘quality award’ for their career guidance with those that had not received such accreditation.

Controlling for other factors, they found that schools with the awards had a two percentage point advantage in the proportion of pupils with five good GCSEs, including English and Maths.

It also found that attendance was better at the schools with accredited careers guidance.

The reports recommendations are similar to those made by the Education Select Committee last year which voiced concerns over schools’ ability to be able to deliver consistently good careers advice and whether there were conflicts of interest between the school and pupils. Last year Ofsted found that 80 per cent of schools were not providing effective careers guidance for all their students in Years nine, 10 and 11.