First things first this is the last time that Ill use the word NEET (Not in Education, Training or Employment). Imagine being a 17 year old, leaving school and being labelled in the negative. It doesnt really say much for your future does it? How depressing…
Upon leaving school (regardless of age) young people enter into either a positive destination or they require support; careers information advice and guidance (IAG) to assist them through their learning journey. I use that term a lot, as I firmly believe that throughout our lives we all experience learning, regardless of setting. And yes, that does include employment.
High quality, impartial IAG is important in helping young people (and others) to make informed decisions about their pathways and future career choices. Careers IAG is a universal entitlement in Scotland – supporting all young people at any stage of career development, whether they choose to learn at school or college, or to develop their career management skills in a work-based or non-formal setting. Indeed, this is reinforced in both the Curriculum for Excellence entitlements and within the 16+ Learning Choices Policy and Practice Framework.
There is a need to re-assert the Government’s commitment to the provision of universal careers services, placing an emphasis on self-help – through developing people’s ability to manage their own career and through a multi-channelled, blended service, with face-to-face and more intensive support for those who need it most.
Most young people will access universal support from Skills Development Scotland during their school career, though others will require a more targetted approach, with early identification required so that resources can be deployed effectively. This process must start at least 12-16 months in advance of the statutory leaving age (in Scotland this is 16 years old) or whenever required by legislation as outlined in the ASL Act and Code of Practice.
An example of such assessment can be found within a risk matrix. The Risk Matrix aims to address the issue of those children and young people at risk. It highlights those most at risk by using a simple assessment technique that assigns a risk value to a number of the pupils attributes. These are configurable by each authority and when added together the resulting number is a quantitative risk assessment for that child. The status of the pupil is identified using colour coding with those most at risk coloured red. This is managed through the school/authority management information system.
The system should assist pastoral staff with the early identification of those pupils slipping towards a high risk category. Hopefully this will allow intervention at an earlier stage. The data is also shared (through the application of robust data sharing agreements) with other parties e.g. colleges of further education. This has the additional benefit of streamlining the post-school transition and is a basic principle of the 16+ Learning Choices Data Hub.
Information is automatically updated to the risk matrix on a nightly basis but can be re-imported at any time if required. Some of the criteria includes attendance; exclusions; post code; attainment; social work and other professional agency engagement; additional support needs and so on.
Of course, this isnt an exact science were talking about young people and they are the most significant variable in the known universe. By that, I mean to say that a young person may be at risk at 10am in the morning and by 2pm the level of risk has diminished, and vice versa. Criteria must never be used alone and so this must be backed-up by professional opinion ideally from a named person from within the school e.g. youth worker or pupil support teacher.
As well as teaching at my own institution, I have decided to take a bigger part in the development of my field both in a professional and public context. You can read more about my specialism within my Biography. This includes expanding my education papers and research projects.
If there is no conflict of interest with my employers, I am currently open to invitation; offering lectures on courses / undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes at colleges of further education or universities. Likewise, I am open to lecture outside academia and I am more than happy to speak to other organisations with an interest in education, policy or young people.
I have stood as keynote speaker at many events and conferences and I am now looking to expand my portfolio. I do not always require fees or expenses, depending on the nature of what I have been asked to do.
If you believe that I may have something to offer to you, whether as a guest speaker, consultant or perhaps an informal chat over coffee, please do get in touch! I don’t always work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm either, so evenings and weekends are also welcome and I can work virtually if this suits you best!
Skills Development Scotland, the national skills body, has designed and developed an online toolkit to aide those in search of careers information, advice and guidance. My World of Work (or My Wow) will help you find all the advice and information that you need to win that next job or develop your career.
Having contributed to policy development under the auspices of Curriculum for Excellence and Building the Curriculum 4 – Skills for Learning, Life and Work, I’m pleased to see that SDS has incorporated these themes as such:
- Career Choices
- CVs and Covering Letters
- Find a Job
- Job Interviews
- Help your child with their career
- Developing Skills and Strengths
- Ways to Learn
- Apprenticeships and Training Programmes
- Scottish Qualifications Explained
- Career Development
- Career Changes
- Employment Rights
This is a fantastic resource and will shortly be used across all secondary schools in Scotland, though of course where applicable, those elsewhere across the international community may find it equally valuable. It is an essential toolkit to support 16+ Learning Choices and More Choices, More Chances – with a specific role in both universal and targetted support for those young people 15 – 19 and beyond, both in school and in other learning settings.
It’s still in beta mode – currently under development, but you can access the site and send SDS feedback. I’ve added a link at the bottom of this post. Here is an outline of what is on offer:
Work out who
With My CV tool, whether you’re applying for your first job, updating your skills and experience or preparing for a career change, this tool can help.
Work out what
Discover your skills and strengths and which careers may be right for you. My DNA is an engaging tool which helps you to build up your profile. My Strengths is an easy to use tool to help identify your strengths and learn more about them.
Work out which
There is a Careers A–Z which will help you to get from A to B. Check out the case study videos and listen to people talking about their jobs and career paths.
Work out where
Find out about the learning and training options open to you with the Course Choices tool.
Work out when
Discover live job opportunities online using the Job Search tool.
Visit the site at: http://myworldofwork.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/about-us
These are my own views!
The following indicators are not exhaustive; they illustrate potential areas which Education Scotland may wish to review within schools. These could inform the basis of a local report or similar methodology to evaluate the planning and delivery of 16+ Learning Choices (16+LC) and produce recommendations for improvement.
It’s really important that there is a named person within the school to lead and coordinate 16+LC; this could extend to a wider team or network of internal support staff. Ideally, it will be someone who has enough ‘clout’ to carry forward solutions from theory into practice; a Depute Head Teacher or perhaps a Principal Teacher. 16+LC needs to feature on the remit of all pupil support staff as they each have a role to play. The process should not rely upon one person. What if they were off sick for two months, or moved to another post!? Strategic overview and operational delivery need to be clear, leadership and accountability drives momentum.
The school needs to develop a comprehensive strategy; incorporated into the school improvement plan and it must illustrate how the school will plan and deliver 16+LC to eligible young people – clearly indicating who is responsible for what. This is not an initiative and any plans must embed and sustain practice – and accommodate additional capacity in the future. There needs to be clear articulation between More Choices, More Chances (MCMC) and Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC). In an ideal world, these strategies would not be labelled as such, as this can lead to them being seen as add-ins to the curriculum structure. Rather, they are simply the way that we should do things – improving the life chances of all our young people by applying a process of professional conduct; not simply ticking a box.
Early identification and targeted support to those young people who are at risk of not entering a positive post-16 destination is crucial. Schools need to be as proactive as possible, thus stemming the flow of potential NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or Training) into the S4 cohort. I don’t like that term – so I won’t use it again. Using a system of risk identification is a must – but of course, acting upon the risk is equally important and any school policy needs to reflect this. There is no point in identifying a vulnerable young person if one is not going to give them the appropriate support at the right time. Staged intervention and careful coordination of support is essential, especially if there are multiple partners interested in the young person, e.g. Social Work.
Universal support at the end of statutory education (if not before!) can take shape in many different ways. I’ve just Googled ‘Universal Support’ and received over 74 million entries, so I’m not going to explore this now. You can find out more at http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk, where there is a comprehensive section on supporting learners. 16+LC is a universal offer of post-16 learning to every young person who wants it. This means that schools need to address this when planning the senior phase and engaging with the cohort, through careers education in PSHE classes, form class and year group assembly.
There must be evidence of joined up professional meetings for the most vulnerable; utilising input from external agencies and organisations and articulating to GIRFEC. Young people should not be attending a Looked After Children (LAC) review at 10am, a GIRFEC meeting at 11am and a transition planning meeting in the afternoon. For the better part, the people around the table will be the same. The young person must always be at the centre of any planning – they must be involved in their own education – and there must be a process to reduce duplication and make better use of resources to support the young person.
There are three elements to 16+LC. The right support, the right learning opportunity and data management. A network of external partners who can contribute to learning provision within the senior phase curriculum is essential. In a market heavily affected by recession, schools need to engage with the local community, establishing links with employers and other learning providers and utilising a network of professionals to deliver aspects of learning, either within the school environment or out with.
I’d be disappointed if visiting a school and I discovered that there had not been an ‘audit’ amongst the staff, of those who could offer more, for example, hobbies, interests and the additional value to be gained from teachers who had been trained in first aid or leadership etc. I believe that every teacher should have an ‘interest’ or extra curricular activity on their timetable which they can deliver to a group of pupils. This does not need to be delivered during lunchtime or after school; rather it should be incorporated into the timetable as an option, enriching and enhancing the curriculum.
It is really difficult to discuss any one element of 16+LC on its own. They are all integrated and when talking about support and provision, there arises a need to discuss data management. Transition planning meetings for young people with Additional Support Needs; continuum of support between the school and other learning providers and facilitating offers of learning all require data sharing. The national Data Hub will facilitate this process, but each partner needs to be clear on their roles and responsibilities. Evidence must include accurate and timely data returns to Skills Development Scotland (SDS) – based on achievement (predicted or otherwise) – collation of intended destinations – offers made and information on those young people who disengage from learning or do not take up their offer. There should also be data exchange when a young person is enrolled, moves to another school or changes their personal details.
One needs to keep in mind that the Data Hub will match data sets across a broad spectrum of information systems. This could produce national statistics which when de-aggregated, will allow us to look at an individual’s journey. I’ll write about this in another post, for those of you whom are interested.
Extending the role of pupil support staff, schools need to take into account support from parents/carers and teaching/non-teaching staff – a holistic approach to planning and delivery within the wider school community. For example, how may classroom teachers know what 16+LC is – or how the process works? It is the link between the broad general education and the senior phase curriculum, and central to the success of the education system – and implementation of Curriculum for Excellence.
I cannot emphasise enough, the importance that clear processes for referral from staff and self-referral by young people to a Careers Advisor bring to 16+LC. When they are in need of information, advice and guidance – they all must know where to look and who to speak to. As well as being reactive to need, the school must also provide universal support through systems and technology such as My World of Work (My WoW) and its own management information system.
These are some brief thoughts, and clearly you may be able to think of others. Please do feel free to comment on this post and add your own ideas to mine. Likewise, I’d be happy to discuss in more detail with you, if you want to get in touch.
I created this diagram back in 2010, which I used during a presentation on 16+ Learning Choices and the Senior Phase of Curriculum for Excellence. The conference was held at Celtic Park Football Club in Glasgow, and more than 350 Head Teachers and senior leaders were in attendance, to hear about embedding practice into wider school improvement plans for the year ahead. The event was also used to launch the 16+ Learning Choices Policy and Practice Framework, which I wrote whilst on secondment to the Scottish Government. Within the policy document, you’ll see on page 9 a similar diagram.
This version illustrates the relationship that different partners and organisations have with each other to support the young person as they make the transition into and through the senior phase curriculum. Note, the pyramid shows the articulation between the Broad General Education and The Senior Phase, and the young person is always at the centre of any activity.
16+ Learning Choices ensures an offer of post-16 learning for every young person who wants it and appropriate support for as long as it’s needed. This might be staying at school, going to FE or HE, taking part in a national training programme, volunteering, getting a job or engaging in community-based learning, including personalised approaches. There are three key elements – ensuring that the right learning provision is in place, that the right financial support is available to young people and that the right personal support and careers information, advice and guidance is there to help young people make decisions. Data; monitoring and tracking is essential to planning and delivering the Senior Phase curriculum.
Some young people are not ready or able to access formal learning as they reach their school leaving date. They may face multiple barriers and need support to build their confidence and social skills, or benefit from opportunities to develop team-working skills and self-esteem. For those young people, an offer of learning which meets their needs must be as mainstream an offer as participation in school or college or the national training programmes. It is also critical that the right support is available to young people as they take part in this type of learning and development – for the most vulnerable young people, intensive advice and guidance will have to be a central element of their activity – particularly when their learning activity must fit in with other issues such as healthcare. This intensive advice and guidance forms the basis of an activity agreement.
If you’ve produced any material on 16+ Learning Choices or post-school transitions for those of you who do not work in Scotland, I’d be interested in hearing from you.
Here is a link to my section on the Scottish Government’s website – you’ll find out more about my work there: Young People 16 – 24 – and another to my Community of Practice for Partnership Information. Here is a direct link to the Policy and Practice Framework for your convenience:
Reach to Teach (R2T) is a UK charity with an established platform to deliver primary education to the tribal (Adivasi) peoples of Gujarat in North West India. Funding 104 small village schools, R2T uses a sustainable community-based model with a strong connection to local culture to address learning barriers by developing capacities of local teachers. Additionally, the teacher training programme will be accredited by the Indira Gandhi National Open University into a Diploma and Degree in Tribal Education. R2T is currently looking for both academic and NGO partners for expansion of its model.
I decided to clean out my laptop this morning and amongst the folders, I found an old presentation, which I had delivered with LTScotland back in 2009. I was a teacher back then and this predates my work with Government. Have a quick peek and feel free to use any of the material if you wish.
Some of you will be familiar with my work around the National Indicator on the Positive and Sustained Destinations of School Leavers in Scotland. I’ve recently produced some material for the Employability In Scotland website which includes some detail on Young People and Transitions to Employment.
I have established a national Community of Practice for Partnership Information, which you can read about below. Please keep checking this website for updates over the coming weeks.
The Scottish Government continues to accord high priority to the development of data-driven and intelligence-led approaches to supporting all young people into a positive destination. Although separate and discrete elements, data management within the context of 16+ Learning Choices and More Choices, More Chances are both integral components of the wider infrastructure and are complimentary to each other. As such the harmonious elements are now referred to as Partnership Information.
There are three levels of data; that which informs individual support and intervention for young people, information analysis for local planning of provision and service delivery and national, aggregated data which informs statistical analysis.
Skills Development Scotland (SDS) as our national skills body, is building a 16+ Learning Choices Data Hub on behalf of The Scottish Government, which will articulate a range of data on young people, their career aspirations and their current learning pathway. This will be used to support them into an initial, positive, post-16 destination and into subsequent destinations during the Senior Phase of Curriculum for Excellence (broadly 15 -18). The 16+LC Data Hub will allow us to monitor and track the journey that all eligible learners will make.
It is an ambitious project, one of the largest in the world, which will see information sharing between SDS, local authorities, schools, colleges and various other organisations which work with young people.
The CoPPI facilitates opportunities to share approaches, experience, and data analysis, as well as, concrete possibilities for jointly undertaking programs and projects for capacity building and continuous improvement.. This includes practitioners from schools, Skills Development Scotland and local authorities, though anyone is welcome to join. The CoPPI is a platform where data on 16+ Learning Choices and More Choices More Chances can be jointly discussed within the framework of a national approach and builds upon exisitng networks which are already in place.
The aim of the CoPPI is to develop joined up approaches to Partnership Information which supports all young people into a positive destination upon leaving school and to sustain employment and lifelong learning. It includes access to resource materials and presentations from a series of local events which will be held across Scotland in March, April and May 2011.
Read more about Young People and Transitions to Employment or alternatively, wait for the new revised Young People 16-24 section which will shortly appear on the Scottish Government website. I’ll post a link on Twitter once it has officially been published.