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In July 2016, a Joint Committee of Parliament (consisting of the Education Committee and the Committee for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) published a report on careers education, information, advice and guidance. In November, the House of Commons published the Government's response to that report.

As is frequently the case with this type of document, a lot of space is devoted to showing what the Government is already doing that is in line with the spirit – if not the letter – of the Committee's recommendations. As a result, reading the report may be most fruitful in terms of finding out what resources are already available to schools aiming to boost their careers education and guidance. For example, it explains the role and work of the Careers and Enterprise Company, which (among other things) links schools with employers and providers of careers-related activities.

That said, the Government has accepted some of the schools-related recommendations.

The Committee suggested that schools should be incentivised to provide high quality careers information, advice and guidance, and be held to account if they fail to do this. The Government has accepted this in principle, stating that "excellent careers education and guidance is about offering an age-appropriate variety of activities, embedded in the curriculum and delivered in collaboration with employers and other partners. This provision should inform young people about their options at crucial times during and after compulsory education".

There's a lot to unpack in that unofficial definition, but some of the plans mentioned in the report give an idea of what may be expected. For example, the Government says:

"Subject to the will of Parliament, schools will be required by law to collaborate with colleges, university technical colleges and other training providers. This will ensure that young people hear much more consistent messages about the merits of alternatives to academic and school-based routes."

The Government appears to have no appetite for punishing schools that do not provide a high-quality careers service, proposing rather to hold schools accountable by incorporating destination data information into performance tables.

In its report, the Committee commented on the role of good quality careers advice in tackling skills misalignment, by making young people aware of opportunities in the job market and matching them to their own skills and interests. In connection with this, the Committee noted the importance of accurate labour market information.

The Government agrees, saying: "We expect schools, through their careers guidance to pupils, to explain the value of finding out about the labour market and support young people and their parents to access, use and interpret labour market information". To aid this, the DfE is, apparently, conducting a programme of work to ensure that data is available to pupils.

It is unclear which (if any) of these plans will result in new legal obligations for independent schools (including academies), but it is worth keeping an eye on developments, if only to get a feel for what programmes the Government is pumping money into and what sort of careers-related provision it expects UK schools to make.

You can read the full Government response here.

If you require further information on anything covered in this briefing please contact Sam MacDonald([email protected]) or your usual contact at the firm on 020 3375 7000.

This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Farrer & Co LLP, December 2016

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