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Milton: 'Too many providers blocked from going into schools'

Schools and FE providers need to work together to tell pupils about vocational options, says skills minister Anne Milton.

Before schools break up for the well-deserved Easter break, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone about their legal duty under the Baker Clause and to highlight some of the ways to comply with it.

It is hugely important that young people are able to see that there are different routes they can take after school, different routes into the workplace – not just a traditional academic route.

To make sure pupils can hear about and understand all the options available to them, like doing an apprenticeship or going to a further education college, we backed the Baker Clause in January 2017. The clause became law in January 2018 and requires all schools to invite a wide range of education and training providers in to help young people choose the right career path for them. 

Legal duty

I’m pleased that our own enquiries carried out in 2018 showed that over 90 per cent of schools are aware of their legal duty and the statutory guidance, and provider visits are now increasing. This is great news, but there are still too many education and training providers who are facing difficulties or have been blocked from going into schools or from arranging to speak to pupils.

In January this year, I wrote to some of the largest school trusts that had not yet published arrangements for provider access on their school websites to ask them to tell me how they are complying. I have also written to all local authorities to remind them that schools in their area must comply, too. So please do make sure providers are able to talk to pupils!

There are lots of ways to do this, from organising taster sessions at local career or skills fairs to delivering assemblies on different career paths and inviting providers to come in and talk to students about the range of training opportunities they offer.

Some of the best examples of schools showcasing the range of opportunities on offer to their students can be found through the work of our network of 20 careers hubs. Rising to 40 this year, careers hubs were set up in 2018 by the Careers & Enterprise Company and funded by the government. They are made up of groups of between 20 and 40 secondary schools and colleges working with local partners to boost career outcomes for all young people in their area.

Share first-hand experiences

The Black Country Hub ran an event in November 2018, which was attended by 36 schools. They organised for training providers, colleges and employers to attend – as well as apprentices – to speak to students to share their first-hand experiences. Another example is The Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly Careers Hub, which has provided lists of independent training providers to schools across the region to encourage them to work together.

Through the Careers & Enterprise Company, we have also funded 150 high-quality career programmes, such as mentoring and developing employability skills. These programmes have reached around 540,000 young people. We want young people to meet a wide range of employers and raise their aspirations about different potential jobs.

As part of our work to improve access to careers education, we are also investing over £5m to provide more opportunities for young people to meet a wide range of employers, receive personal guidance, as well as supporting young people who are more disadvantaged or vulnerable to access good careers advice and support. We are also testing new approaches to understand what careers activities work well in primary schools because we recognise it is important that young children broaden their horizons while starting to discover the world of work.

We are making good progress, but there is still more to do. So I’m calling on schoolsand providers to work together to make sure all young people are able to access high quality opportunities. There is lots of support out there and it is now the law. For more information, take a look at the government's official guidance here; at the CEC website; and at the AELP and ASCL’s excellent joint guidance.

Anne Milton is apprenticeships and skills minister

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