News from UNISON

Meeting with John Hayes 8 March 2011
Unfortunately UNISON’s meeting with the Minister covering careers and Connexions in England John Hayes, was called off as he had to be in parliament to deal with the Education Bill. We are currently seeking to rearrange the meeting.  His office has said that they are taking on board our concerns particularly those relating to the lack of transition planning.  We are working with the ICG,NCN and Careers England to produce a transitions plan which, when finalised we will give to the Minister.

Local Government Association (LGA)
In February the LGA issued guidance on the proposals in the Education Bill on the new all age careers guidance service (attached).  It states that “We expect that the new all-age service will have a recognisable national brand and include on-line, phone and (some) face to face services. Ministers have expressed a wish for the service to have some sort of recognisable local presence and there have been informal discussions with officials about the need to include some locally bespoke content as part of the service alongside the national resource.” This gives us grave concerns about the seeming lack of priority being given to the vital need for face to face guidance and will continue to raise this.

We also continue to remind local authorities that until the Education and Skills Act 2008 is repealed by the new Act and Statutory Guidance issued then the responsibility for fulfilling the statutory duties remains with the local authority; regardless of the model of delivery.  Many local authorities appear to incorrectly believe that the new duties come into place from 1st April 2011.  To compound the confusion there is also a misunderstanding between the duty to provide careers education by schools and the duty to provide advice by schools. A helpful meeting was held with the LGA on 8 March 2011 where they agreed to continue the dialogue between UNISON and the LGA and share guidance issued to local authorities on transition arrangements.  We attach the bulletin from the LGA.

Education Bill
The recently published Education Bill proposes the following changes to the statutory duties to provide careers education and guidance in England:

A new duty to secure independent careers guidance for all pupils in years 9 to 11.In this context ‘independent’ is defined as:
*        impartial
*        including information on options available in 16-18 education or training, including apprenticeships
*        promoting the best interests of the pupils
*        provided by persons other than those employed at the school.
The new duty will apply to all maintained secondary schools, including special schools and PRUs.  Ministers expect that it will be applied to academies through their Funding Agreements with the DfE (although currently in the bill academies and free schools are exempt). 
*        Repeal of the duty on schools to provide pupils with programmes of careers education.
*        Repeal of the duty on schools and colleges to provide careers advisers with access to pupils and students, and with information on pupils and students.

We are producing amendments and raising questions on the bill, which we are sharing with MPs and representative in the House of Lords    Details of our questions relating to the careers service will be put on a link on our website. The general UNISON briefing on the Education Bill can be found at this link 

The Education Bill is now being debated at ‘committee stage’ in the House of Commons.  If you would like to give written evidence on any aspect of the Bill you can do so via ‘Have your say’.   Tuesday March 8th saw the Committee begin the clause by clause discussion of the Bill, expected to continue every Tuesday and Thursday and to finish by the 5th April. You can view Committee sessions on Parliament TV or read the Hansard records the next day. In addition you can follow the progress of the Bill, and access key documents (including new FAQs) on the DfE website.   We would ask stewards to continue to pressure MPs during the passage of this Bill on the outrageous cuts being made to current services and the need for a well resourced careers service in the future.

All Age Careers Service Taskforce
A meeting of the All Age Careers Service Taskforce was held on 10 March 2011.   The officials representing the DfE at the meeting were left in no doubt about the unacceptable delay in putting into place a clear transition plan.  Members of the Taskforce were all unanimous in their condemnation of central government on the the lack of progress and clarity. The Chair of the Task Force Dame Ruth Silver is writing to the Minister as has UNISON and other constituent bodies.  The taskforce meeting  included workshops on: Quality Assurance;  Workforce (UNISON is represented on this group);  Making use of Technology and Partnership (UNISON is represented on this group).   It was difficult to participate without a transition plan and UNISON advised the DfE that it was akin to sorting out the design, colours and furniture for a new house without any plans to work upon.   UNISON highlighted the good guidance that is available from both the UNISON briefing on objectives for a future service  and the Taskforce reported from last October.

A further meeting of the members of the group will be held on Friday 18 March 2011.

SEN and Disability Green Paper Published.  The DfE has today published Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability.  The paper ‘makes wide-ranging proposals to respond to the frustrations of children and young people, their families and the professionals who work with them’.

Parliamentary debate

In February UNISON organised a successful debate in Westminster on the Future of the Careers service chaired by Andy Burnham with contributions from a panel of experts:

  •  Challenges and Opportunities Facing the Sector- Professor Tony Watts international policy consultant in career guidance and career development
  •   Careers Education and Schools -Sue Barr President, Association for Careers Education and Guidance and Careers Alliance
  •   The Value of the Careers Professional Steve Higginbotham, President, The Institute of Careers Guidance
  •  The Future of the Profession  - a View from Careers England -Allister McGowan Careers England and NICEC
  •  The Local Authority and Employers View-Ayub Khan National Connexions Network Director - South London Sub Regional Unit and Jenny Rudge, Chief Executive Careers South West

MPs who attended said that they had learned a lot and they would feed the information into debates around the education bill and the setting up of the new service. All the experts and UNISON focussed on the value and importance of the careers service for both young people and the future of our economy   UNISON members in the audience made a particular impression because of their passion and commitment to the service they provide to young people.

Jenny Rudge made a telling comment: “ In the last 16 years this service has been privatised, nationalised, localised and now cauterised. It has continued operating up until now due the commitment and determination of its staff working with young customers to secure the deal for them in education, employment and training. Now these staff in turn are being cut and facing unemployment and mortgage issues themselves.”

Tony Watts highlighted the urgency “what we have, I fear, is not a policy but a troubling, irresponsible mess.  Two theories of history: the conspiracy theory and the cock-up theory. I am always inclined towards the cock-up theory. Conspiracy theorists might regard the Government rhetoric as hypocrisy, and see the local authorities and schools being lined up as the scapegoats for its devious smuggling away of the £200m. Cock-up theorists might say that John Hayes is well-intentioned but a bit naïve, has not really thought it through, and has limited leverage with Michael Gove in DfE. But if he wants to protect his reputation, he needs urgently to get his act together: to announce a convincing initial budget for the all-age service, and a convincing staged transition plan for its implementation. If the Government wants what it claims to want, it needs to act now.”

 A more detailed report together with the speeches will be put on the UNISON website.

Attached is the latest database which shows job losses and centre closures.  It is a really depressing task to update this but we would be grateful if you could provide me with updates to this. Please do not reply to this email but send to

Please also let us know of how local campaigns are going, meeting with MPS councils etc so that we can highlight the work you are doing. Success stories are particularly welcome. We have model press releases, model letters to MPs and Councillors on our website.  Also do not forget the face book campaign!/group.php?gid=108686792515084

We have also updated the Connexions/Careers pages on the UNISON  website and they include model letters/press  releases as well as briefing notes from the UK Careers Strategic Forum.

National Petition

We have launched a joint national petition with ICG/NCN and Careers England and it can be access from the following link:

Media Roundup
BBC  â€œMore than two million young people in England will lose out on careers advice as the government overhauls advisory services,  heads warn at ASCL conference in Manchester”

The Guardian also has a report:

LSIS Advice
LSIS have been working with the sector to develop resources to support the development and delivery of career learning, information, advice and guidance (CLIAG). The resource is designed to enable staff in the learning and skills sector such as tutors, teachers and assessors to develop the basic skills and knowledge they need to be able to deliver CLIAG. The resource will help staff: Understand the theoretical basis to CLIAG;
*        Start to develop some of the skills needed for delivering career related learning and one to one support;
*        Be aware of how and when to refer to professional guidance services and other specialist services;
*        Know how and where to find information to support the delivery of CLIAG; and Understand the competencies that learners need to successfully plan, manage and develop their

The resource is intended for leaders in the further education sector and it is not intended as a replacement of professional careers advice.  We are aware that one Local Authority (Darlington) was promoting this to schools as a resource for them.  We contacted LSIS who have issued the following statement and this is going into their next newsletter to LA’s and has also been sent to the LGA.

“Learners need the support of qualified and competent guidance professionals. Working through this resource does not lead to a qualification but can support those undertaking guidance qualifications. Staff in the sector need to be able to deliver career related learning as part of their courses and provide first level support and this resource can help them develop the basic skills and knowledge that they need but this is not a substitute for the support careers guidance professionals provide. “

Best wishes

Denise Bertuchi
Assistant National Officer
Education and Children’s Services


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