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London institutions leading the charge to elite universities

27 Aug

Three academies in London – wrongly dubbed by the press as schools – and Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre, a selective state ‘school’ in a deprived part of London, are leading the charge in securing places for their pupils at Oxbridge and top-flight US universities.

Brampton Manor Academy in Newham – the second largest secondary institution in Newham and one of the poorest local authorities in the country – opened its sixth form in September 2012 with a view to increasing the rate of deprived pupils entering Oxbridge and other elite Russell Group universities.  It is doing this with great aplomb.   In 2014, one pupil received an offer to Oxbridge.  In 2018, the number increased to 25.  About 67% are the first in their families to attend university and 50% have been in receipt of free school meals. In 2019, 41 pupils progressed from the sixth form to Oxbridge.

In 2020, 51 pupils (for pupils from 11 to 18 years old) were offered places at Oxford and Cambridge for September 2020.  Over the last three years, 100 Brampton pupils mainly from minority ethnic and socially deprived backgrounds received offers of places from these two universities.

The sixth form at Brampton is selective.   In the last academic year, 2,000 to 3,000 applications were made to the lower sixth form.  All candidates were interviewed, and several turned away.

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Government publishes careers strategy

31 Dec

I        The Four Themes of the Career Strategy

In the second week of November 2017, the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister, Anne Milton, set out four themes which will underpin the government’s careers strategy.  These are as follows.

(1)        “A high-quality careers programme in every school and college” based on the Gatsby Foundation’s benchmarks for good careers guidance.

(2)        “Encounters with providers and employers” especially focusing on the work of the Careers and Enterprise Company in the DfE’s 12 Opportunities Areas, i.e. Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough, West Somerset, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

A key aim of an opportunity area will be to build young people’s knowledge and skills and provide them with the best advice and opportunities, including working with organisations such as the Careers and Enterprise Company, the Confederation of British Industries, the Federation of Small Businesses and the National Citizen Service.

The increased DfE opportunity area funding of £72 million will support local education providers and communities to address the biggest challenges in the 12 areas.  The opportunity areas will have priority access to other DfE support including the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund worth £75 million, focused on assisting teachers and school leaders in challenging areas to develop.

The Department for Education (DfE) aims to ensure that children (in the words of Secretary of State Justine Greening) “get the best start in the early years, to build teaching and leadership capacity in schools, to increase access to university, to strengthen technical pathways for young people and work with employers to improve young people’s access to the right advice and experiences.   The DfE will work with each opportunity area to respond to local priorities and needs – because each area will have its own challenges.”

(3)        Ms Milton acknowledged that the “careers profession has experienced many shocks in recent years” and that the government will look to support qualified advisers to deliver tailored guidance through the National Careers Service and other organisations.

(4)        The final theme is to improve the use of data. Ms Milton said that “more needs to be done to make destination data easier to interpret” and that the government will look to improve this.

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Educational choices at 16+ vis-à-vis T Levels and Apprenticeship

18 Aug

I        The Wolf Review

Readers will recall that in October 2010, Michael Gove, the then Education Secretary, asked Alison Wolf, the Sir Roy Griffiths Professor of Public Sector Management at King’s College, to carry out an independent review of vocational education for the 14-to-19-year olds – especially how it could be improved to promote successful progression into training routes, higher education and the labour market.

The review focused on

(i)         institutional arrangements;

(ii)        funding mechanisms including arrangements for who bears the cost of qualifications;

(iii)       progression from vocational education to work, higher education and higher-level training; and

(iv)       the roles of the third sector, private providers, employers and awarding bodies.

Wolf’s key recommendations were as follows.

(i)         Young people should be given incentives to undertake the most valuable vocational qualifications pre-16, with the removal of many vocational qualifications that existed to the detriment of core studies.

(ii)        The government and providers should introduce principles to guide young people on study programmes leading to post-16 vocational routes to ensure that they were gaining skills which led to progression in a variety of jobs or further learning, so that those who had not secured good passes in English and mathematics GCSEs continued to study these subjects.

(iii)       The government was to ensure that there was a system for evaluating the delivery and content of apprenticeships so that young people had the right skills in the workplace.

(iv)       The government was also to ensure that the regulatory framework moved away from accrediting qualifications to regulating awarding organisations.

(v)        There was to be a requirement that all qualifications offered to the 14-to-19-year-olds fitted within the Qualifications and Credit Framework because its absence had had a detrimental effect on their appropriateness and left gaps in the market.

(vi)       FE lecturers and other professionals should be permitted to teach in schools, to ensure that young people were being taught by those best suited to do so.

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National Careers Service falling short on supporting young people

18 Aug

In 2011, the former coalition government disband the careers services designed to launch students on their careers in the world of work.   The government passed responsibility for careers advice to schools/academies.   In 2012, the National Careers Services (NCS) was founded to provide anyone aged 13 and over with “access to up-to-date, impartial and professional guidance on careers, skills and the labour market through an online and telephone helpline.   Adults aged 19 and over or 18 and over if out of work and on benefits can access one-to-one support from an adviser of the NCS.

Last year, the Department for Education commissioned consultants, London Economics, to assess the impact of the work of the NCS.   They issued their report in March 2017. The consultants “could not identify a positive impact of the NCS on employment or benefit-dependency outcomes”, despite a government injection of £380 million to its work.

The consultants compared the progress of NCS’s customers with a group of people who did not use that service and discovered that the former spent less time in employment during the months that followed.  Their evaluation found that the employment outcomes of those engaging with the NCS worsened in the first few months following its support.  Half-a-year after receiving help, NCS customers spent 3.5% less time in employment than peers who did not use the service.  While the gap narrows with the passage of time, after two years’ intervention, they spent 2% less time being employed.

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Number of young people not in education, employment and training rises

25 Aug

In June 2013 it became a statutory requirement for young people to remain in education and/or training up to the age of 17.  The education/employment-training compulsory age was raised (again) in the summer of 2015 to 18.   However, the law does not make arrangements for any one particular body to police the system leave alone take sanctions against the young people to flout the law.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that there is a substantial number of 16-18-year-olds not in education, employment and training (NEETs).  The number of NEETs, in fact, rose in England from 6.8% in 2014 to 7.1% in 2015.   However, the number of 16-year-olds remaining in education rose.

In the years leading up to 2008, the year of “financial bust” the percentage of NEETs fell but from 2008 to the current year it has risen.

It is anticipated that with the economy becoming increasingly buoyant and government supporting employers who hire apprentices, the picture of young people in education and/or employment will improve over the coming years.

Meanwhile, a senior Cabinet Office source informed The Times that the government will be announcing plans to require all 18-to-21-year-olds to attend 71 hours of training classes at Job Centres in the first three weeks of claiming out-of-work benefits.   The scheme will begin in April 2017,

The training will include practising job applications and interview techniques. Those attending will undertake extensive job searches alongside dedicated coaches with whom they will continue to work throughout the first six months of unemployment.

Careers Guidance – Cinderella of Education

3 Jan

I           Schools falling short on careers guidance

On 15 October 2014 the Sutton Trust published a report commissioned from Derby University, called Advancing Ambitions which looks into the role of career guidance and its relationship to social mobility. The report suggests that young people are being subjected to a “postcode lottery” with quality career support available to some but not others.

In his Foreword, Deputy Chair of the Sutton Trust, David Hall, rues the decline in good careers guidance in secondary schools, which is impairing the futures of young people, especially those who come from the lower echelons of our society. This is mainly due to the poor quality career advice they are receiving at schools and academies.  As a consequence, their chances of becoming upwardly mobile are severely diminished.

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Careers guidance in schools not fit for purpose, allege colleges

24 Apr

A survey carried out by the Association of Colleges (AoC), published in April 2014, reveals that schools are failing to give adequate careers guidance to students about further education opportunities.  In fact, several appear actively to be obstructive, stopping students from contacting Further Education (FE) colleges in an attempt to hang on to them for sixth form studies.  Since September 2012, it became a legal requirement for secondary schools to provide careers guidance and advice to their students though the government did not give them with any additional resources.

FE lecturers averred that schools had stopped them from speaking to the students and refused to distribute college prospectuses and/or display information on the provision they offer.   Continue reading