Sutton Trust calls for an end of ‘postcode lottery’ careers advice

The Sutton Trust is calling on the National Careers Service – which currently offers telephone and web-based advice to schools – to extend its role and provide students with face to face advice from specialist career advisers to end a ‘postcode lottery,’ where some young people have access to much better careers advice than others.

Its new report, ‘Advancing Ambitions’, by Professor Tristram Hooley of University of Derby, shows that where schools provide good quality career guidance, there are improvements in GCSE results, attendance and access to leading universities.

The report makes recommendations to improve the quality and consistency of career guidance:

• Strengthen the National Careers Service and give it a clear role and resources to support schools in the delivery of career guidance.

• Stronger statutory guidance and more prominence for career guidance in Ofsted inspections.

• Linked to their statutory duty, schools and colleges should be required to show that they are meeting their legal responsibilities and to provide pupils, parents and employers with information about the school’s activities in this area.

• The Department for Education should continue to improve the quality of the destination data that is collects on where students go to after their GCSEs or A-levels.

• The Government should review the websites and services it supports and develop a strategy to stimulate public-sector and private-sector development of tools that meet schools’ needs.

Conor Ryan, Director of Research at the Sutton Trust, said: “The overall decline in good guidance is harming social mobility. Having the right advice is key to young people making the right decisions. Those without good networks and family contacts lose out when career guidance is poor. Less advantaged young people must know all their options, whether it is the right apprenticeship, college course or university.

“The Government has asked schools to provide this advice, but they need the right professional support and expertise. Students often want to talk to knowledgeable people about their career options in person as well as online or over the phone. We need good quality guidance for all students, not a postcode lottery of provision that benefits some.”