Conservative MP calls for careers advice for all secondary school pupils

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Careers advice is needed throughout all secondary schools across England if the Government is “serious about levelling up”, ministers have been told.

Conservative MP Mark Jenkinson (Workington) called for careers advice to be offered to all pupils from year 7 until they leave secondary school after GCSEs or A-levels, a service which some academy trusts do not offer.

Introducing his Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Bill, Mr Jenkinson said it would simplify current law, creating a “level playing field” instead of the difference between the contractual obligations academies have to provide advice, and the duty under the law other state-funded schools have.

His bill later cleared its first Commons hurdle by receiving an unopposed second reading and will undergo further scrutiny at a later date.

It has Government support, which increases its chance of becoming law.

Mr Jenkinson told the Commons: “As someone who grew up in the heart of northern working-class communities, I am aware of the stark disadvantages faced by so many young people. They have so much to contribute but often they are written off far too soon.”

He added: “If we are serious about levelling up, giving all children access to careers advice is one of the most important weapons in our arsenal.”

He explained the need for his “landmark bill”, saying: “At present, the statutory duty to provide careers guidance falls on maintained schools, special schools and pupil referral units but not academies, although many academies do indeed have a contractual obligation to secure independent careers guidance through their own funding agreements.”

Mr Jenkinson also told MPs the bill would provide alternatives to university for pupils who “may not favour an academic path” from a young age, by making sure they have access to local businesses that offered apprenticeships or training.

2015 General Election candidates
Mark Jenkinson (PA)

The Conservative former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey said: “Good careers advice has always been important but never more so than now; with all the disruption in schools, the job market changes, it really is important that we support young people, and data suggests 65% of children currently in primary schools will enter a job that has not been invented yet.

“Jobs, as we know, it is not a job for life, there will be a series of jobs that people are doing and that will speed up, which means you’ll need to learn, relearn, upskill, reskill, on a regular basis.”

Labour shadow education minister Peter Kyle said the bill was “a vital way to expose children to alternative options to work with those surrounding them when growing up”.

He also called on the Government to give more funding to education, adding: “The IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) recently found that despite Tory promises to level up, spending per pupil funding won’t reach or return to pre-2010 levels by the end of this parliament.

“When spending is squeezed it is natural that schools prioritise subjects like English, maths and science, and it is topics like the careers that are so often left behind.”

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