Ofsted chief: ‘Selfish’ schools are failing pupils over careers advice

Young people are being failed by “selfish” headteachers who encourage them to stay on for sixth form to keep budgets strong rather than offering them decent careers advice on vocational alternatives, the head of Ofsted has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw made the comments while giving evidence to the House of Lords Social Mobility Select Committee today.

“Too often this is what inspectors see all the time – they go into secondary schools and because headteachers are so concerned about filling their sixth forms to ensure that their budgets are strong, they will give the wrong advice to youngsters and be selfish in their careers advice,” he said.

He added: “Most successful heads want everything to be good in their school and really understand that good careers education is not a bolt-on, it’s an integral part of raising achievement.”

Sir Michael suggested the government had not done enough to promote apprenticeships, reiterating a scathing Ofsted report that last month found the drive to create more apprenticeships had led to too many that were of poor quality.

“It’s not just up to Ofsted to say careers advice is important and to make sure careers guidance is balanced,” he told the committee. “It’s also up to [the] government as well to say we’re going to promote both. A successful school is about developing both.”

The chief inspector said a good headteacher should identify a suitable and senior member of staff to coordinate careers education in their school.

They should make sure one-to-one tuition was available, that local business leaders engaged with pupils, and that local further education colleges were represented at careers evenings. But he warned this was often not the case.

TES reported last month that Sir Michael argued the low take-up of apprenticeships was “little short of a disaster”.

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