This report presents the findings of a survey to assess the current availability to learning providers of quality awards for their programmes of careers education and guidance (CEG), and the level of take-up of the awards by schools, colleges and work-based training providers. Quality awards have been developed by organisations that have a role locally to support the development of CEG; principally Connexions partnerships and careers companies. They provide an important means of promoting good quality CEG in schools, colleges and training organisations. Each scheme comprises a set of quality standards against which a programme of CEG can be assessed for external recognition through an award.
The purpose of the report is twofold. Firstly, the findings should help the organisations that offer the awards to review their own awards against the national picture. Secondly, the findings will inform any debate at the national level about the future development of quality awards. The report does not attempt to evaluate the various schemes: it simply records the current provision.
In 2004 the Government undertook a major review of CEG following concerns about the position of CEG in Connexions and in schools, colleges and work-based training. At the time the survey reported here was conducted the report of the review had not been published. The Government had indicated that it would also publish a Youth Green Paper, in which any proposed changes to the provision of CEG would be included. This too had not appeared before the General Election was announced.
Despite the lack of publication there is a widespread view that a priority for the future must be to improve the quality of CEG within learning providers. There are of course several ways in which this could be attempted but clearly the use of quality standards and awards offers one approach within wider strategies. For this reason it seemed, to the author, an appropriate time to survey the current availability and take-up of quality awards. From this baseline local partnerships and national organisations could then consider the future development of the awards from an informed position.
Many of the quality awards were developed originally in the early 1990s and about ten years ago Janet Donoghue undertook a review of the awards for the then Department for Education and Employment. This internal review was never published but an outcome was the publication, within the Better Choices series, of Quality in Careers Education and Guidance: criteria for evaluating local arrangements for setting standards and securing quality in careers education and guidance (DfEE, 1996).
Since then many careers companies and Connexions partnerships have continued to develop and promote quality awards for CEG. The main aim has been to support the development of good quality CEG in schools, colleges and work-based training by providing a set of standards learning providers can use to self-review their programmes, and an award to recognise their achievement of the standards.
When the DfES published Careers Education and Guidance in England: A National Framework 11-19 (DfES, 2003), the opportunity was taken to further promote good use of quality awards by providing suggested criteria for what the awards should cover and for how they should operate. Many organisations revised their awards to take account of these suggested national criteria.
Ofsted has responsibility for inspecting CEG in schools and colleges, and the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) has responsibility for inspecting CEG in work-based training organisations. Ofsted has published guidance to inspectors on inspecting CEG, and has encouraged schools and colleges to use this guidance for self-evaluation. There is currently no link between the guidance from Ofsted and the local quality awards for CEG.
Some organisations have developed their own awards while others have ‘bought into’ one developed by another organisation. The awards have previously been termed local quality awards but only some are truly local. The one available in the East Midlands, Career Mark, for example, is a regional award, developed originally by the five careers services and now run by the five Connexions partnerships, and the award developed originally in Cornwall and Devon, Investor in Careers, is used by several partnerships in different regions across England. This survey set out to obtain a comprehensive and accurate picture of current activity.
The report was presented to a one-day dissemination conference in June 2005, at which the findings were examined and possible future developments were discussed. One of the questions that has been debated on several occasions over the years is, should we continue with ‘local’ awards or should there be a national award, or possibly national kitemarking of local awards. This raises further questions about how either of the ‘national’ options might operate, for example, who would make the award, who would do the assessment, how would it be funded? These debates will continue: the purpose of this report is to inform them.
The quality awards are run by local Connexions partnerships and careers companies. A survey questionnaire was sent to the CEG adviser in each of these organisations across England.
The survey was undertaken by the author at his own expense, with some financial assistance with the costs from the National Association of Careers and Guidance Teachers (NACGT) for which he is very grateful. The author would also like to thank all those individuals who took the time to complete and return a questionnaire, and for tolerating some gentle prompting. The high response rate (88%), plus some further research, mean that the reader can have confidence that the situation described in the sections that follow is both full and accurate.
Who offers quality awards for CEG?
A total of 25 different quality awards are offered across England. 24 of these are offered by Connexions partnerships or, in areas operating a sub-contracting model for the delivery of Connexions, careers companies providing CEG services to Connexions. This is as expected, because Connexions partnerships and careers companies have the lead responsibility for supporting the development of careers education and guidance in schools, colleges and other learning providers. In some areas support is also available from local education authorities (LEAs) and education business partnerships (EBPs), and the other quality award is offered by an EBP serving part of a larger Connexions partnership area.
Quality awards are offered in 41 of the 47 Connexions partnerships. 26 of the 41 are organised on the ‘direct-delivery’ model and in 25 of those the same quality award is offered across the partnership area. In the one remaining direct delivery partnership, covering two LEA areas, one quality award is offered in one LEA and a different one is offered, by the EBP, in the other LEA.
All 15 partnerships operating a ‘sub-contracting’ model offer quality awards. In two such partnerships the award is a Connexions award offered by all the careers companies in the area. In the other 13 sub-contracting partnerships awards are offered by the careers companies: in nine of these areas the same award is offered across the partnership, either because there is only one careers company or because all the careers companies offer the same award; in a further three areas all the careers companies offer an award but the awards are specific to the company and, therefore, different quality awards are offered in the same partnership; in the remaining partnership only one of the two careers companies offers a quality award.
There are six partnerships, all operating on a direct-delivery model, that do not offer quality awards. Two of these partnerships have no plans currently to develop an award: one stated that it preferred to promote using the learning outcomes in the National Framework for CEG as a basis for school self-assessment and to promote quality by developing recognised professional qualifications for careers co-ordinators and tutors. One area is not sure about its plans for the future and another is piloting the use of the matrix standards in schools. A fifth area offers quality standards to support self-evaluation but does not offer an award. The final area did in the past offer a quality award but now just makes the standards available to schools to use for self-review and self-evaluation. In that same area one of the LEAs, a unitary authority, is planning to develop its own quality award.
In summary, quality awards for CEG are available in 41 of the 47 Connexions partnership areas, but, in one of those partnerships, in only part of the area. They are offered primarily by Connexions partnerships or careers companies, but one EBP offers an award and one LEA is considering offering an award.
Range of awards
A full list of the 25 different quality awards for CEG offered across England can be found in Appendix 1. 23 are individual to the organisation offering the award, and this is reflected in the fact that only a minority of these awards have been given what could be considered a ‘branded’ title. The two exceptions are Career Mark and Investor in Careers. The former was developed by the five former careers services in the Government Office East Midlands region, and is still run by the consortium of five direct-delivery Connexions partnerships. The latter was developed originally by Cornwall and Devon Careers and is now used not only by Connexions Cornwall and Devon but by Connexions partnerships and careers companies in 18 other partnership areas, across six of the nine Government Office (GO) regions, under licence from Connexions Cornwall and Devon.
The East Midlands Connexions partnerships have established an arrangement with the Independent Schools Careers Organisations (ISCO) to make Career Mark available to any of its member schools across the UK. The standards developed for use in the East Midlands consortium have been re-configured into five modules for the ISCO schools.
It is also possible for an individual school, or other type of learning provider, outside the geographical areas using Investor in Careers under licence, to seek accreditation for the award directly from Connexions Cornwall and Devon.
The oldest award has been available since 1992. The biggest growth in the development of awards was during the period 1994-99, although a few organisations have only developed awards in the past five years.
In summary, there are 25 different quality awards for CEG in England. 23 are specific to one organisation and offered only to learning providers in the area that organisation serves. One operates across a GO region, covering all five Connexions partnerships, and is also available, in a modular version, to independent schools, that are members of ISCO, in the rest of the country. Another is run under licence across a total of 19 Connexions partnership areas, and is also available to any individual school or college outside those areas.
To whom are the awards made available?
The most common approach is to make the award available to all types of school with pupils of secondary age (i.e. maintained and independent secondary schools, including special schools) and to FE and, where they exist, sixth form colleges. This is the case for 20 of the 25 awards. Nine of those 20, including both Career Mark and Investor in Careers, additionally are available to work-based training providers. In areas where there are middle schools, the awards are often available to those schools and at least one Connexions partnership has developed an adapted version of its quality standards specifically for its middle schools.
The other five awards are available only to schools and these include the one award offered by an EBP, which is available to maintained schools only. One of these organisations said that it had no plans to extend the award to colleges as they are using the matrix standards in the FE sector. Investor in Careers is also used in primary schools.
In summary, most of the awards are available to all types of school and college, with a minority available only to schools. Several are also available to work-based training providers.
For 24 of the 25 awards, the costs of administering the award, including the assessment visits, are covered centrally by the organisation offering the award. In the past some organisations did make a charge to schools, but only one is doing so now and this is a very recent development. In the Connexions partnership concerned the focus of using the quality standards has changed, from rewarding the best schools, to supporting development in the weaker schools. Those weaker schools that do improve their CEG provision to meet the standards receive, free of charge, a Certificate. Schools offering a high quality can still seek the Award, but accreditation of the (higher) Award level costs £250.
The other exception is for individual centres seeking accreditation for an award offered by an organisation outside their local area. Individual schools and colleges that seek accreditation for Investor in Careers, but are not in one of the 19 partnership areas offering the award, are charged a registration fee of £150 plus assessment costs. ISCO members that seek accreditation for Career Mark (Modular) are charged £150 per module, plus £250 for the final on-site assessment.
Several organisations offer financial support and/or incentives to learning providers which commit to seeking accreditation for their awards. These include the costs of supply cover to release staff time to prepare portfolios of evidence, development grants to purchase curriculum resources, ‘credits’ towards the cost of INSET courses.
In summary, organisations offering quality awards do not generally pass on any of the costs to centres in their area. Some allocate development funding to centres working towards the award.
Relationship to recommendations in the National Framework for CEG 11-19 (DfES, 2003)
Careers Education and Guidance in England includes a section on improving quality, which sets out recommended national criteria for local quality standards and awards, covering aspects of CEG they should include and features of how they should operate.
Without exception, every organisation offering a local quality award has reviewed its scheme against the recommendations in the National Framework in the past two years, with the result that all 25 organisations report a close match between the recommended criteria and their local award.
In summary, all 25 organisations claim a close match between their award and the criteria recommended in the National Framework for CEG.
Take-up by learning providers
Looking across all the areas that offer quality awards, most commonly the proportion of schools having achieved the award is somewhere between 20% and 30%. In some areas it is between 30% and 50% but in others less than 20%. Interest is relatively strong from special schools. In all areas, a further percentage of schools are working towards the award. Only in three areas have more than 50% of the schools achieved the award.
Factors identified as contributing to higher than average levels of take-up include:
Ø Developing the quality standards and award in collaboration with schools and colleges
Ø A high profile launch
Ø Using schools on the development team as trailblazers for the first awards
Ø Organising the award as a series of modules and encouraging schools to work towards the more straightforward modules (e.g. careers information, work experience) before moving on to the others (e.g. careers education, careers guidance, management and leadership)
Ø Providing a comprehensive checklist of possible sources of evidence for each standard
Ø Offering substantial consultancy support
Ø Securing the schools’ commitment to work towards the quality award in the annual partnership agreement negotiations
Ø Engaging the link personal advisers to promote the quality award and support their schools in achieving it
Ø Linking each element of the local INSET programme clearly to the relevant standards in the quality award
Ø Offering financial support and incentives (see 1(d) above)
Ø Securing the support of the LEA(s)’ advisory services so that they promote the award when monitoring schools’ work, particularly in relation to the 14-19 developments
Ø Organising high profile presentations/celebration events, with local media coverage.
In many areas several of the FE Colleges have achieved the local quality award and the awards seem to be particularly popular with sixth-form colleges where they exist.
One problem for FE Colleges is that as they often have a higher proportion of adult students, and as they can only access funds for adult information, advice and guidance (IAG) services if they achieve the matrix standards, they have to prepare for two different forms of accreditation should they decide also to seek accreditation for their pre-19 CEG provision through a local award.
Work-based training providers
Most organisations that have extended use of their quality award to training providers have only done so relatively recently, so few awards have been made in this sector yet.
In summary, take-up in schools is more than 50% in only a few areas. Several colleges have achieved an award, with interest proportionately stronger in sixth form colleges than in FE colleges. Making the awards available to work-based training providers is a recent development and so very few have achieved an award.
Current plans for future developments
Several of the organisations offering quality awards said that the future development of their award would depend on any changes and additions to the responsibilities of schools and colleges with regard to careers education and careers guidance following the publication of the Youth Green Paper. Many said that, in the meantime, they would be looking at ways of promoting their award and supporting schools working towards it. Two Connexions partnerships reported that their local quality award had been incorporated into the local LSC/LEAs’ action plan for 14-19 education. A third partnership reported that one 14-19 consortium in its area planned to use a different quality award from the one offered in that Connexions partnership area.
Several of the organisations not currently offering their award to work-based training providers said they had plans to do so. Similarly others had plans to extend the availability of their award to the middle schools in their area.
In one Connexions partnership area operating on the sub-contracting model, and with the four careers companies offering four different awards, the companies had started work on cross-mapping their awards. In another sub-contracting area, with two careers companies offering two different awards, the Connexions partnership had suggested a single award but the two companies wanted to retain the local ownership of their individual awards.
Another Connexions partnership said that it planned to develop a greater emphasis on student outcomes in the award.
Finally, Connexions Cornwall and Devon has commissioned the Centre for Guidance Studies (CeGS), at the University of Derby, to undertake an evaluation of Investor in Careers.
There is wide coverage of the country as local quality awards are available in 86% of the Connexions partnership areas and, increasingly, they are available to all categories of learning provider. There is, however, also a wide range of awards – a total of 25 different titles – but all reportedly similar as they have all been revised recently to match the recommended criteria in the DfES’s National Framework for CEG in England. Most of the awards are local to one Connexions partnership or careers company area only, but one is regional and another is used in 40% of the country.
The costs of operating the awards are borne almost exclusively by the organisations offering them.
It appears difficult in most areas to increase achievement rates above 50%.
Questions it would seem worth asking are:
What place should quality awards for CEG have within wider strategies for supporting the development of high quality CEG in schools, colleges and training providers?
What further action should be taken locally to promote the quality award to learning providers in the area?
How should the local quality awards be developed further?
· continue with a free market of 25 local quality awards, all different but broadly similar?
· move to a single, national award?
· move to a regulated market, with some form of national kitemarking of local awards?
If England were to adopt one of the two ‘national’ options:
· which organisation, or group of organisations, should run the award, or be responsible for the kitemarking?
· who should undertake the assessments?
· how should the scheme be funded?
To set the discussion of questions 4. and 5. in a UK context, Appendix 2 describes briefly the situation with regard to quality awards for CEG in each of the other three UK countries.
Appendix 1: Full list of quality awards for CEG available in England
Award for Connexions Excellence (Greater Manchester Connexions)
Black Country Quality Award for CEG
Career Mark (East Midlands Connexions partnerships)
Careers Bradford Careers Education and Guidance Quality Standards
Careers Excellence (Connexions Norfolk)
Careers Quality Mark (Hereford & Worcester Connexions)
Committed to Careers (Sussex Careers, serving the East Sussex part of Connexions Sussex)
Connexions Cumbria Quality Standards for CEG
Connexions Hertfordshire Quality Award
Connexions Suffolk Standards for Careers Education and Guidance
Greater Merseyside Connexions Partnership Quality Award for CEG
Investor in Careers (Connexions Cornwall & Devon, and used under licence in 18 other partnerships)
The Leeds Standard for Careers Education and Guidance
Quality Award (Lifetime Careers – Barnsley, Doncaster & Rotherham, with Connexions South Yorkshire)
Quality Careers Award (Connexions Birmingham & Solihull)
The Quality Framework (Connexions Wiltshire & Swindon)
Quality Standard of Careers Education and Guidance in Calderdale and Kirklees
Quality Standard in Careers Education and Guidance (Connexions Lancashire)
Quality Standards for CEG in the Wakefield District
Quality Standards for Careers Education and Guidance in York and North Yorkshire
Quality Works (Connexions Humber and Humber EBLO)
Recognition of Quality Award (Essex, Southend & Thurrock Connexions)
Sheffield Standard for Careers Education and Guidance
Somerset Standard for CEG
Warwickshire EBP Quality Award
Appendix 2: Quality standards and quality awards for CEG in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
There are no quality awards for CEG in Northern Ireland but, at the time of writing this report, the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI), equivalent to Ofsted in England, within The Department of Education in Northern Ireland (DENI), is about to publish a set of quality indicators that schools, colleges, training providers and youth organisations will be encouraged to use to self-evaluate their CEG provision. ETI inspectors will also use the document as an inspection tool when inspecting CEG in schools, colleges, training organisations and youth organisations.
In Scotland career education is considered part of a wider provision of ‘enterprise in education’. While there are no quality awards specifically for CEG, the Scottish Executive has recommended that there should be a national quality award for ‘enterprise in education’, although this has yet to be developed.
HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) in Scotland has published quality indicators for ‘enterprise in education’ for schools to use to support self-evaluation of their provision, and these include aspects of CEG.
Until recently the situation in Wales was similar to that in England, with four local quality awards for CEG, covering the seven careers company areas. These have since been replaced by a single, national all-Wales quality award, developed from the four local awards. The award is administered by Careers Wales, the national all-age service, and is available to all types of school and college. The award was launched originally in 2002 as the Careers Wales Quality Award: CEG, but has since been developed further to cover work-related education (WRE) as well, and is now called the Careers Wales Quality Award: CEG and WRE.
The Welsh Assembly funded the development phase of the award and the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning has stated that she wants all educational establishments in Wales to work towards, and gain, the award. Estyn, equivalent to Ofsted in England, takes account of the award when inspecting a school but has not formally endorsed it.