Our briefing on Careers guidance: Govt action plan

Wed,2 October 2013

Disability Rights UK Briefing – careers guidance

 Careers guidance – government action plan

The government has published its response and action plan in response to recommendations from Ofsted’s thematic review and the National Careers Council’s report.



The National Careers Service

The Government’s vision for better quality of information, advice and guidance on learning and work was set out in National Careers Service: the right advice at the right time (April 2012). It also launched the National Careers Service which provides information through a website and advice via a telephone helpline and web chat service. Disabled people are entitled to face to face guidance.

 Schools and colleges

The Education Act 2011 (section 29) amended the Education Act 1997 and placed schools under a statutory duty to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance for pupils in Years 9 to 11. The responsibility came into effect in September 2012 and, a year later, has been extended to encompass Years 8 to 13.The duty has been extended to include Further Education (FE) and Sixth Form Colleges with equivalent statutory guidance, Securing independent careers guidance: Guidance for General Further Education Colleges and Sixth Form Colleges (June 2013).

Schools are required to provide face to face guidance for disabled young people.

Local authorities

The new duty on schools replaced that of local authorities to provide universal careers guidance and guidance for all young people, delivered through the Connexions service. However, local authorities retain their duty under the Education and Skills Act 2008 (section 68) to encourage, enable and assist the participation of young people in education or training. In line with Government policy, this is now to age 17 and, from summer 2015, to 18.

Local authorities should ensure that disabled young people are supported to remain in education and training and to achieve their potential and to prevent them from becoming NEET (not in employment, education or training).

Scrutiny of the new arrangements

Education Committee Inquiry: Careers Guidance for Young People

In January 2013, the House of Commons Education Committee published a report following its short inquiry into the new duty’s introduction. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmeduc/632/63202.htm

 In Careers Guidance for Young People: the impact of the new duty on schools, the Committee argued that good careers advice has never been so important.

However, it found evidence of a “worrying deterioration in the overall provision for young people” since schools had taken responsibility for the provision of careers guidance. It highlighted concerns about the quality, quantity, independence, consistency, impartiality and availability of careers services and warned that the deterioration would continue unless urgent steps are taken by the Government. It descried the Government’s policy decision to be “regrettable”.

National Careers Council report

In June 2013, the National Careers Council (NCC), an advisory group to BIS, reported on its review of careers guidance arrangements: An Aspirational Nation: Creating a culture change in careers provision. http://readingroom.lsc.gov.uk/SFA/National_Career_Service__One_year_on.pdf

The paper challenges employers, Government, education and the careers sectors to act boldly and decisively in framing a more coherent national and local careers offer for young people and adults.

Barnardo’s: Helping the inbetweeners

Prompted by the potential impact of what it regarded as “the radical policy changes in the delivery of careers information, advice and guidance” on disadvantaged young people in particular, Barnardo’s research reflects the views of the young people and professionals who work with them.

Helping the inbetweeners: ensuring careers advice improves the options for all young people (August 2013). http://www.barnardos.org.uk/helping_the_in_betweeners.pdf

The research shows that beyond the more traditional route of school sixth form and A-levels, the information provided on vocational courses, apprenticeships or other such options is inadequate. Many schools are reducing careers provision and young people are finding it harder to access and receive good quality guidance - especially those not attending school. It concludes that the changes in policy have resulted in a decline in provision.

Ofsted: thematic review of careers guidance in schools

A year following schools’ assumption of their new duty, Ofsted has published , ‘Going in the right direction? Careers guidance in schools from September 2012’ It examines the quality of schools’ careers provision and assesses the extent to which young people are receiving impartial careers advice in order to make informed decisions about their future.  It concludes that the arrangements are not working well enough:

  • Three-quarters of schools surveyed were not implementing their duty to provide impartial careers advice effectively
  • Vulnerable students continued to receive careers guidance and individual support from local authorities but not all were working well enough with schools to identify support needs from age 16.
  • The guidance for schools on careers advice is not explicit
  • The National Careers Service is not promoted well enough
  • There is a lack of employer engagement in schools

The Government’s Response

The DfE and BIS have responded jointly to the Ofsted report in the form of a 5-page Inspiration vision statement: careers (September 2013) and a more practical 13-page Careers Guidance Action Plan (September 2013). They not only address Ofsted’s recommendations but also those of the National Careers Council and acknowledge the concerns identified by the Education Committee report.


Disability Rights UK will continue to work closely with Departments for Education and Business Innovation and Skills to ensure that new guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities continue to require face to face guidance for disabled people. We support the National Careers Council policies to strengthen training for careers professionals and to require impartial and quality guidance.

The Disability Rights UK Helpline provides support to young people, their families and careers guidance practitioners on progression from school to college, apprenticeship, university and work.

Contact: students@disabilityrightsuk.org

For further information contact:

Andrea Lewis, Policy Adviser andrea.lewis@disabilityrightsuk.org

Disability Rights UK

September 2013