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Council praised for careers advice
8:00am Wednesday 23rd January 2013 in News
MPs today heap praise on Bradford Council for continuing to provide vital careers guidance in schools – as they condemned a “worrying deterioration” across the rest of England.
The authority is picked out as one of the few that still offer advice, after a controversial shake-up handed responsibility to schools – despite their lack of money and expertise.
That switch is attacked as a blunder by the Tory-led Education Select Committee, which raised fears over the “consistency, quality, independence and impartiality” of the advice now offered to youngsters.
But, its report highlighted the work done by Bradford Council, which it visited last October – and which still provides careers services for 29 of its 32 schools – urging others to follow suit.
It concludes: “We commend the efforts made by some local authorities to support their schools in taking on the new duty, particularly by working with them to form consortia and partnerships to procure independent and impartial careers guidance.
“We recommend that the Government’s statutory guidance is strengthened to emphasise the benefits of this approach.”
The MPs met local authority leaders, students at Bradford College and local employers at the Bradford Chamber of Commerce. Their report says the advantages of the strategy include: l More cost-effective advice, through economies of scale.
l The Council topping up £10,000 contributed by each school in the partnership, increasing the amount of money available.
l Schools encouraged to continue work experience and work placements, and to promote apprenticeships.
l There was also a focus on so-called ‘NEETs’ – young people not in employment, education or training – and opportunities through the government’s ‘Youth Contract’.
Councillor Ralph Berry, the Council’s executive member for children’s services, said good careers advice was vital for young people.
He said after the Government had announced the changes, the Council had decided not to go ahead with them and instead formed a partnership with schools to fund careers advice together.
He said: “We saw the damage we thought this decision was going to make, and how it would affect Bradford. So we talked to our schools and said, ‘How do we limit this damage?’ “I hope the Government will now reflect on its very short-sighted policy.”