Skip to main content

Sector news, August 26 - 31 2013

School careers advice – is it leaving pupils to sink or swim? Guardian, 26 August 2013

This article by Janet Murray asks if pupils are being short-changed by the new schools-based careers advice, as some new research has shown. She interviews a student who received little careers advice, took A levels and ended up dropping out and taking a poorly-paid job. Another student who found the science qualification he had taken would not be recognised by some universities for entry to medicine was instead given a leaflet about becoming a prison officer. Both felt let down by the guidance they received. Legislation last year put the duty on schools to now provide impartial information, advice and guidxance for pupils despite no additional funding. The government's National Careers Service (NCS), which was set up last year, offers telephone and web-based support for young people, but face-to-face advice is offered only to adults. New research published on Tuesday by the children's charity Barnardo's suggests the new system could already be failing pupils – largely because they are not getting enough face-to-face support with careers guidance. Kay Tarry, a service manager for Phase 2, a Barnardo's project that supports young people at risk of dropping out of education and employment, said some young people did not have a mobile phone, or were on pay-as-you-go and could not afford the internet on their phones. Others did not have good enough telephone skills to ask for what they wanted. A select committee report published in January concluded that it had been a mistake to take responsibility for young people's careers guidance away from local authorities – that this had led to a worsening of the advice available.

Sixth-form colleges: overachieving but underfundedGuardian, 26 August 2013

Sixth-form colleges make up just 93 of the 339 colleges in England but figures from the National Audit Office, Ofsted and Ucas all show that sixth-form colleges are doing better than state and independent schools. A recent study from the Sixth Form Colleges Association found overall success rates (levels of student achievement and retention) of 84 per cent at sixth-form colleges, compared with 69 per cent for school and academy sixth forms with fewer than 100 students. This article looks at how, despite this, changes to the way colleges like this are funded could present a threat to their future, according to Simon Jarvis, principal of The Sixth Form College Farnborough and chair of the Maple Group, a partnership of some of the top sixth-form colleges.

Student finance: Stop calling student loans a loanTelegraph, 26 August 2013

Martin Lewis, the founder of, says associations with the word 'loan' are scaring many teenagers away from university. In this article David Ellis, the editor of says this shouldn’t be the case, as a student loan is like no other. He says it is necessary to change what it is called to stop students being drawn into the negatives associated with the language of student finance. Ellis points out the repayment details, and says amounts always remain manageable with the former student’s earnings taken into account.

Underpaying apprentice bosses face increased name-and-shame threatFE Week, 28 August 2013

Underpaying apprentice bosses will be publicly named and shamed under government plans to make it easier to clamp down on rogue businesses. Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson announced new rules as part of efforts to toughen up enforcement of the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The clampdown, which will come into effect from October when the apprentice NMW goes up 3p to £2.68 an-hour, will strip back restrictions on naming employers who break the law. Employers already face financial penalties of up to £5,000 if they break the law. In 2012/13 Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) identified 736 employers who had failed to pay the NMW leading to the recovery of £3.9m in unpaid wages for more than 26,500 workers.

Nine in 10 graduates found work amid recessionGuardian, 29 August 2013

Only a tiny percentage of students who graduated at the height of the recession are unemployed, according to a survey. More than eight out of 10 said they were satisfied with their career and two-thirds thought their course had given value for money, the survey of more than 60,000 graduates by the Higher Education Statistics Agency found. About 87 per cent of the class of 2008-09 were in work three and a half years after graduating, 6.7 per cent were engaged in further study and 3.2 per cent were unemployed. Some 7.2 per cent had been jobless six months after they graduated. The unemployment rate in the general population is 7.8 per cent. The study found differences in employment rates between subject areas, with 89 per cent of 2009's medicine and dentistry graduates saying they were in a job, compared with 72 per cent of history or philosophy graduates.

Relief as leap in university student recruits shows that fees have failed to put off school-leaversIndependent, 30 August 2013

A substantial rise in the number of students recruited to universities this summer is revealed today in statistics published by UCAS, the universities and colleges admissions service. They show a six per cent rise on recruitment compared with last year ­- the first year of the new fees regime of up to £9,000 a year - leading to 459,750 students being placed. The figure is 8,000 higher than three years ago, the year before the rush to beat the new fee rises, and will bring a sigh of relief for ministers as it appears to be the first long-term indication that the bulk of school leavers are not put off by high fees. The biggest rise in numbers is amongst school leavers and 19-year-olds, but after a decline last year the number of 20-24-year-olds and over 25s is also rising.