April 2018

The know zone

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    Reckoning that pupils who sported designer handbags could be less likely to succeed than their purse-free peers, one headteacher describes what led to her decision to de-accessorise in the classroom. More
  • Un-social media?
    With more and more social media platforms becoming available, and with the rise in the number of news reports on how social media is affecting children's mental health and wellbeing, we asked ASCL members to share their thoughts on this. More
  • Leaders' surgery
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  • Empower yourself
    Val Andrew explores the theme for this year's ASCL School Business Leaders' Conference - 'Empowering Agile Leadership'. More
  • Next steps to higher learning
    Schools now have a statutory duty to allow further education (FE) colleges and other providers on to their premises to talk to their pupils. Here, Kevin Gilmartin examines the so-called 'Baker clause'. More
  • Pregnancy and maternity
    We have seen an increase in member queries on pregnancy and maternity, but before you stop reading, thinking, "This so isn't for me," says Sara Ford, please be aware that the issues being raised need to be understood by anyone managing staff. More
  • Speak up
    We must start talking more about SEND funding and stop using the complexity of this provision as a barrier for not doing so, says Julia Harnden. More
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Schools now have a statutory duty to allow further education (FE) colleges and other providers on to their premises to talk to their pupils. Here, Kevin Gilmartin examines the so-called ‘Baker clause’.

Next steps to higher learning

Those of a certain age may remember a big hit back in the 1970s for the band Wings entitled ‘Let ‘em In’. The song, written by Paul McCartney, was a shout-out to his youth, a time when relatives and friends were constantly calling round to his family home. Perhaps now though it could be the adopted signature tune for the so-called ‘Baker clause’, which came into force on 2 January this year. It means that all local authority maintained schools and academies must give education and training providers, including FE colleges, the opportunity to talk to their pupils in Years 8 to 13 about the post-14, post-16 and post-18 technical education and apprenticeships options available. In addition, schools must also publish a policy statement on their website outlining this.

The legal position

The Baker clause came about as an amendment to the Technical and Further Education Act of May 2017. Many commentators were surprised that the decision was not challenged at the time by the minister for the school system, Lord Nash. Even Lord Baker himself, a former education secretary under Margaret Thatcher, was apparently surprised by this, as his prime motivation for the amendment was to persuade more schools to promote University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and Studio Schools. The long-awaited government careers strategy, published in December 2017, endorsed this clause and the DfE issued guidance to schools on how to comply with this and other new obligations (see https://tinyurl.com/y7nh4bqf).

So far, however, only a small percentage of schools across the country have complied. Some schools may still be unaware of the duty and some may be in the gradual process of carrying it out. However, if a school fails to enact the duty in a timely manner, then it could become a breach of statute and the local authority or the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) could take action.

What detail should be in the school’s policy statement?

The statement can be short but must include:

  • any procedural requirement in relation to requests for access, for example, the contact point at the school for access requests
  • grounds for granting and refusing access requests, for example, details of timetabled careers lessons, assemblies or careers events
  • details of premises or facilities available to providers, for example, equipment, rooms and IT facilities

What about Ofsted?

Ofsted should continue to consider careers guidance in line with the existing inspection framework. However, in answer to a written question about the Baker clause, Academies Minister Lord Agnew said in December that Ofsted would “take account of this statutory guidance when developing its approach to assessing careers provision” and that where statutory requirements are not being met, it will be “considered for inclusion in the inspection report as a key point for improvement”. Please take note, as being forewarned is forearmed.

Next steps?

Schools should decide for themselves just how much of a priority this is. To draw up a quick policy using the template in the DfE guidance should only take minutes. Doing it as part of a coherent school careers strategy takes longer – and the starting point must be the identification of which senior leader leads on Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG). Sensible steps should include building a relationship with local FE colleges (and perhaps other providers) and laying down ground rules on the number of visits, timings and the ‘quality’ of the advice and guidance.

We all want our young people to be given the best independent guidance on what opportunities are available, including of course forthcoming T levels. The first step to ensuring that this happens is to invite colleges in to your schools. So, as the song goes, “Do me a favour, open the door, and let ‘em in…”

Kevin Gilmartin
ASCL Post-16 and Colleges Specialist