By James Frith
For too long, technological, structural and personnel restraints have prevented real progress being made with Information Advice, Guidance and Connexions services for young people. When the current standard of Information Advice & Guidance is bad it is very bad, when it is good it is only just good enough. The Connexions service should be replaced with independently appointed IAG service providers of variable sizes.
Excellent, independent accredited IAG services should form the backbone and backdrop to all young people’s education experience. IAG services must help young people identify, realise and match skills and aspirations with a realistic insight into careers, prospects and life chances but this requires a wholesale change to current provision.
Technology is the enabler here and there is a need to embrace exciting, media rich, digitally presented, reality based advice, so offering real life career shaped experiences and context for all young people throughout traditional and vocational education. Innovative and creative IAG services can better ensure all young people are empowered and informed decision makers.
Provision of outstanding independent IAG services is an equal opportunities policy and appreciates varying educational abilities. It is designed to help improve the chances and decisions made by all but can help most those not naturally exceeding with traditional education. It must also appeal to the middle and higher attaining students. This highlights the innovative, creative and highly responsive nature available with independent provision and unavailable with current arrangements.
A movement away from the Connexions-led, tired, default advice based service offering young people limited and categorical careers information advice and guidance has to happen. In its place we need an ambitious, appealing and cutting edge provision where involvement in and experience of the sytem is rewarding for user and practitioner alike.
There is a persistent professional churn within this sector of education which can negate efforts to change current provision. Whilst unsuccessful organisations are disbanded, efforts are in vain if the agents from these failed institutions are repeatedly given similar responsibility elsewhere. Retraining or replacement of personal advisors is advocated. Where new professionals are sought they should arrive with a professional pedigree with sector expertise and not simply be long toothed professional advice givers.
This policy seeks to add further and exceptional role models to a young persons experience in these their formative years. This recommendation believes in the opportunity for young people to benefit from additional and valued interaction with adult role models informing and advising them without the formal authoritative connotations of a teacher or parent.
IAG delivery needs far greater emphasis and reward for those professionals involved in its delivery. One existing accredited IAG provider awards professional development credits for teaching and education professionals participating in delivering IAG, thereby improving its status within the school.
The provision of quality assured standards and universal, unbiased information can be guaranteed with a professional charter. An independent IAG provider can be more accountable than existing services if requiring its accredited status for its very existence. Independent providers should be subject to Ofsted inspection which in turn should place greater emphasis on IAG provision in schools.
Public spending and en masse provision of public services is under intense pressure to save money and spend wisely, a move toward the funding of independent and 3rd sector provision for IAG services re-scores a commitment to efficiency savings and cost effective decision making. Advocating innovative solutions to address the very real need for exceptional IAG provision also demonstrates an unending commitment to the prospects of all young people and their social mobility.