June 17, 2021 dmh

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman told the House of Commons Education Select Committee on 15 June 2021  that it was “unlikely” a school would receive an ‘outstanding’ rating if its careers guidance, namely compliance with the Baker Clause, was not up to scratch. Inspectors are not required to report on  compliance of  the Baker Clause. https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/1e1384eb-43c7-4faa-8308-19ca3871474a

And she said that there has been quite rapid  recent progress albeit  from a low base in implementing  the Baker Clause. (This is despite the watchdog’s deputy director for FE Paul Joyce telling the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) national conference last week limiting inspection grades based on the quality of careers advice is not the “best way” to improve it, and “should not be the sole determining factor of what grade the school gets”.)

Spielman told MPs that of course  careers education is “incredibly important,” but how the watchdog prioritises it in inspections is basically  up to government to decide. It is one small part of the whole inspection process with its many requirements.  Committee chair Robert Halfon said this was “passing the buck,” and there was “nothing wrong” with Spielman saying Ofsted “wants much greater scrutiny to make sure that that the Baker Clause is complied with”. Spielman challenged this , saying: “If we had the brief and resource to do that, we could certainly do that,” but she asked: “What would you like me to take out of the inspection,” to prioritise scrutinising careers guidance. Harford pointed out that Outstanding schools are not perfect schools and will have some deficiencies. The last trawl of inspections found  two in five providers overall did not provide satisfactory  careers guidance. The Baker Clause is part of Section 5 inspections, i.e. full rather than short inspections.  The Baker clause is  just  one part of  the  overall careers strategy, and one part of the inspection process ,  with all its requirements said Harford.    

Spielman  told MPs it would be hard for Ofsted to “change our model significantly” in order to move careers advice “up the pecking” order, as committee member Ian Mearns MP put it. Mearns  was worried about information being given by  the vested interests involved providing  guidance to young people. Progression decisions are  very important for young people, he said.  Spielman stressed though that Short inspections, which comprise  four fifths of all inspections, don’t cover careers guidance, so the model will have to change(i.e. more longer inspections). But this is  a matter for the government setting its priorities and changing the model.

More inspection of guidance will not happen  unless “government wants a significantly bigger inspection model, or wants to just substitute, for example, the short inspections which don’t have the capacity to cover this at the moment, with more full inspections which do have the capacity,” she said. Halfon persisted in insisting that careers guidance and specifically the Baker Clause, which was in law.  should be inspected by Ofsted come what may. Clearly there was not a meeting of minds on this,


With thanks to Patrick Watson
Montrose Public Affairs Consultants Ltd for sharing this latest information.


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