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Nicky Morgan

Levelling the playing field in careers guidance

Government proposes new law to teach pupils about apprenticeships as well as university education

Posted by Stephanie Broad | January 28, 2016 | People, policy, politics

Schools may be required to give equal airtime to the non-academic routes pupils can take post-16, under government plans to end the ‘second class’ perception of technical and professional education (TPE). 

A new law would see apprenticeship providers and staff from colleges visit schools as part of careers advice from early secondary school, to talk to pupils about the opportunities open to them through apprenticeships or other TPE routes.

The move follows concerns from ministers about careers advice, with some schools currently unwilling to recommend apprenticeships or other technical and professional routes to any but the lowest-achieving pupils - effectively creating a two-tiered system of careers advice.

Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said: “As part of our commitment to extend opportunity to all young people, we want to level the playing field - making sure they are aware of all the options open to them and are able to make the right choice for them.

“For many young people going to university will be the right choice, and we are committed to continuing to expand access to higher education, but for other young people the technical education provided by apprenticeships will suit them better. 

“That’s why I’m determined to tackle the minority of schools that perpetuate an outdated snobbery towards apprenticeships by requiring those schools to give young people the chance to hear about the fantastic opportunities apprenticeships and technical education offer.”

Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “To make informed choices for the future, young people need high-quality, impartial careers information about all post-16 education and training options, including apprenticeships and technical and professional education. 

“We have long been calling for an improvement to the system and welcome the changes outlined. Colleges recognise the critical nature of good careers education and will be very keen to continue to work together with their local schools. This announcement will make that a reality.”

While the best schools already work extensively with other providers to secure effective careers provision, in other areas current practice is being used to reinforce the impression that technical and professional education and apprenticeships are second best to academic study at A-level and university. 

The new legislation will mean schools will be required by law to collaborate with colleges, university technical colleges and other training providers to ensure that young people are aware of all the routes to higher skills and the workplace, including higher and degree apprenticeships.

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