A major reason why arts organisations, museums and libraries fail to impact on education policy and practice is because we don’t always engage with the mainstream of what’s going on in schools and colleges. We sometimes put on activities that teachers and tutors want to engage with but can’t justify to their management teams. It is increasingly hard for teachers to make the case for taking students out of schools to events, or to engage with some of the excellent projects on offer.
There’s a lot of debate currently about the need for young people to know about the careers available in the creative industries but less debate about how we ensure that the creative industries feature within mainstream careers advice in schools, colleges and universities. We’ll make most impact if we ensure that educators are promoting the arts and culture in what they have to do. If we can help all young people to find out about our sector then the arts education activities we do run can build on some basic understanding.
In December 2017 the Department for Education launched its new strategy, Making the most of everyone’s talents. The Government wants all young people from all backgrounds to understand the range of opportunities open to them and to learn from employers about work and skills. Those of us who work in the arts and cultural sector want that too.
Schools and colleges are responsible for providing independent careers advice to their students with an indicative budget of £11,000 p.a. per institution. They are being encouraged to work with qualified careers professionals, employers and training providers to do this. Ofsted will continue to hold schools and colleges to account for the quality of careers provision. This includes a new requirement for Ofsted to comment in college inspection reports on the careers guidance provided to students from 2018.
The Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) was established in 2014 to be the body that provides coordination for employers, schools, colleges, funders and training providers. It works with Local Enterprise Partnerships and will co-fund a national network of Enterprise coordinators who are trained to work with clusters of 20 schools and colleges through their leadership teams to build Careers and Employer engagement plans. Each school or college will also have access to an Enterprise Adviser who is a senior volunteer from the business community who ensures local businesses engage. We need some volunteers from the creative industries in each locality to ensure that our sector features in the advice young people get.
Enterprise Advisers will use their knowledge of local businesses to support a nominated Careers Leader (or the headteacher) in every school or college to develop and implement a sound careers strategy for its students, ensuring the institution can meet the Eight Gatsby Benchmarks which are principles developed by The Gatsby Foundation.
Careers Leaders in schools and colleges will need to have the appropriate skills and experience, be sufficiently senior to lead the implementation of all eight of the Gatsby Benchmarks and have buy-in from the Governors and the Senior Leadership team, work with subject teachers across the school so that careers provision is embedded within the curriculum.
The Gatsby Benchmarks
The Gatsby Foundation has produced Good Career Guidance and a careers website with helpful information for anyone providing careers advice. The Department for Education encourages all schools and colleges to meet the Gatsby Foundation’s Eight Benchmarks of good careers guidance that set the standard for excellence in careers provision.
Quality in Careers Standard
The Creative and Enterprise Company and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation have also developed the Compass self-assessment tool, so schools can assess how their careers support compares against the Benchmarks. The CEC is considering how to extend Compass to provide equal support to colleges.
Schools and colleges can gain formal accreditation of their careers programme through the Quality in Careers Standard – the national quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance. The Standard offers an opportunity for providers to undergo an external evaluation of their careers programme and so is distinct from the Compass self-assessment.
The National Careers Service will be the single service that provides careers information, advice and guidance. Young people and adults will be able to access this online via a new, improved National Careers Service website which is currently in development but expected to launch shortly, alongside a range of tools that individuals, parents and schools can use. It is important that creative careers feature on the site.
Destination data and lifelong learning
As part of the careers strategy the Department for Education plans to make destinations and outcomes data more accessible to people, to help them compare opportunities and make informed decisions on education, training and employment options. They will also look into ways to improve the long-term tracking of student outcomes, including the extent to which young people go on to apprenticeships and other technical routes such as the ‘T’ levels (the qualification which will sit alongside ‘A’ levels from 2020).
Delivering a new National Careers Strategy will be challenging for teachers, employers and training providers. It will be recognised as a key government priority so delivery will be prioritised by governing bodies and school managements over other activities. Arts and cultural organisations that work with the strategy and in so doing help schools and colleges to achieve partnerships with employers in our sector will be greatly welcomed by the education sector. If as a sector we are able to offer some of the opportunities together we will be able to provide a very rich source of local information and opportunities.