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Hundreds of thousands of pupils will be guaranteed careers advice from the age of 11 under a proposed new law backed by MPs.
The Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Bill requires all state-funded schools in England to provide such support for children from year seven until they leave secondary school.
Currently careers guidance is offered from year eight and the service is not provided by some academy trusts.
But Conservative MP Mark Jenkinson said his Bill would ensure approximately 650,000 year seven pupils across in England will become entitled to careers guidance and it would bring into scope 2,700 academies.
The Bill cleared the House of Commons with an unopposed third reading and will undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords as it bids to become law.
The changes, which have Government support, are intended to come into force from September this year.
Mr Jenkinson, MP for Workington, Cumbria, said: “It heralds a sea change in how we prepare the next generation to meet the career challenges that lie ahead.
“It will also serve to embed careers advice throughout the school secondary phase of education, through the provision of regular and ongoing support to students every step of the way.
“It is designed, in short, to give our young people the very best start and to maximise their opportunities.”
The father-of-four explained how the current legal duty for careers guidance applies to maintained schools, special schools and pupil referral units.
But it does not apply to academies, although many are required by their funding agreements to provide such advice
📚🎉 My Careers (Guidance in Schools) Bill has successfully passed through the Commons.
👏I am grateful to the teachers, career advisors and my Parliamentary colleagues who have shared their experience and supported the progress of my Bill.
— Mark Jenkinson MP (@markjenkinsonmp) January 14, 2022
Mr Jenkinson said: “This Bill seeks to address that anomaly by placing the same requirement on all types of state-funded secondary schools, helping to create a level playing field.
“It’s my hope that this will encourage a culture where young people, regardless of their social background, are able to advance through merit and hard work.”
The advice offered to pupils must also be “consistent, of the highest quality and accessible to everyone”, the MP said.
Mr Jenkinson went on: “The standard of careers guidance should not be a postcode lottery, we cannot leave the education of our next generation to chance – rather it must be based around a set of clear principles clearly focused on the best interests of the children.”
Shadow education minister Toby Perkins gave Labour’s backing to the Bill, saying: “”It is important that all students are aware of the full range of options open to them and that is why we think there is real merit to ensuring a range of organisations and institutions get the opportunity to go into schools and engage with pupils throughout their school journey.”
Education minister Alex Burghart said the Government had further reforms planned for careers advice and skills.
He told MPs: “We want to make sure that young people in all settings, regardless of their backgrounds, get access to high quality careers education and that is what our reforms are going to do because we want to level up opportunity.
“The reforms set out in our Skills for Jobs white paper will give genuine choice between high quality technical and academic routes and it is vital that everyone has access to this high quality careers guidance, of the highest standards, so they are well-informed about what will happen after.”