There has been a lot of talk about schools making sure they prepare pupils for life outside of education ever since the school leaving age increased. And it seems that now Ofsted has seen the importance of work skills, as it has announced that it will judge schools more heavily on how they prepare pupils for the world of work.
According to the non-ministerial department, schools were putting the “nation’s future economic prosperity” at risk because of a failure to adequately prioritise enterprise education. Ofsted inspectors found that just 10% of schools were getting their enterprise education right, while warning that poor coordination between schools and businesses, combined with the absence of an ‘overarching government strategy’, was leaving many young people unprepared for the impending world of work.
The announcement came after Ofsted personnel visited 40 schools up and down England, and found that just 10% were demonstrating what it called an “effective approach” to this aspect of the curriculum. And as a result, the investigation has prompted calls for better promotion of the Careers and Enterprise Company, after Ofsted found that businesses were mostly unaware of it at all, despite the organisation receiving the majority of the government’s £70 million funding for careers education in this parliament. The regulator also stated that its inspectors should ensure their judgments took “greater account of the coherence and rigour with which schools prepare pupils for employment and self-employment”.
Despite there being increased emphasis on employment skills, during their investigation, inspectors found that many schools simply did not view it as a priority, while others did not have the budget to factor in such learning. This is in spite of the fact that many do view it as an integral part of the school’s purpose. However, worryingly, inspectors did find that even where schools were delivering enterprise education, it was sometimes unclear whether it aided pupils’ knowledge and skills at all.
To add to this rather dreary outlook, Ofsted also suggested that the opportunities for work experience were somewhat limited at key stage 4 – primarily due to a lack of business involvement that relied far too heavily on the personal networks of teachers and parents, which, as you would expect, resulted in disadvantaged pupils missing out.
This rather chaotic approach, combined with the lack of real life skills and the unevenness between one school and another, is what has made Ofsted look closely at the efforts by each individual institution and mark them accordingly. And that, we think, can only be viewed as a step in the right direction.
What do you think to Ofsted’s plans – do you think schools are failing our children?