MPs hear from RSA Academies

MPs from across the political spectrum are currently investigating how well schools prepare young people for their future careers, with a view to making a set of practical recommendations.  To inform this work the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Education held a roundtable session on Wednesday 19 October, chaired by Andrea Jenkyns MP to collect the views from both education and business on what currently worked well and areas for improvement.

As one of just two Academy groups at the meeting (along with Ark) I hope I was able to give a useful perspective on just what schools that are prioritising this area are able to achieve, and some of the challenges that schools, and indeed businesses, may face.  Suggestions and comments based on our work with the RSA Family of Academies included:

  • The benefits of working with younger children, including those of primary age, to introduce them to the range of career possibilities open to them;
  • How we had helped encourage engagement between Fellows and our schools by giving a menu of options, including both one-off encounters such as giving a careers talk at school or offering a work-place visit to longer term possibilities such as offering a work experience placement or providing mentoring
  • That there is an increased awareness of safeguarding issues, which is welcome, but has resulted in a common misconception that adults cannot step foot inside a school without a full DBS check. Some straightforward advice for businesses keen to strengthen links with schools on what they do and don’t need to do from a safeguarding and risk assessment perspective could dispel unhelpful myths.
  • The way in which support for careers education and guidance varies enormously from school to school, even in our small group of schools. The staff leading these areas do not have a natural network of colleagues with similar roles.  We have started to address this by building a network between our schools, but further sources of support for these key staff would be welcomed.
  • If greater incentives for schools to prioritise this area are needed this should come through the accountability framework, and could be done by giving greater prominence to the destinations data of pupils at 16, 17 and 18.
  • Employers may need further incentives and encouragement to give their staff time ‘off’ to engage in work supporting education-business links. This should include support for employees to become school governors and Trustees, which brings benefits to the school in terms of skills on the governing body and business links, but also benefits to the business as a result of the enriching experience of being a school governor.

If there are further comments that colleagues in schools would like me to add do let me know. We look forward to seeing the report in due course.