Statement from Lord Kenneth Baker, Education Secretary 1987-89
“In 2017 the Government accepted my amendment to the Technical and Further Education Act (2017) to allow the providers of alternative education like FE Colleges, apprenticeship providers, private learning and employment providers, and University Technical Colleges to go into secondary schools and explain to students the various alternative education pathways for their education and training. This was considered a breakthrough in careers advice.
I did ask the Government to make it a statutory duty to provide such meetings, but I was told that the Department for Education would depend upon giving ministerial advice to all secondary schools which the schools would follow. This advice was largely disregarded by schools and when complaints were made to ministers about schools refusing access to specific providers, the Department did not act upon these complaints to insist the meetings should take place.
I have therefore tabled an amendment to the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill which has secured Cross-Party support from Baroness Estelle Morris and Lord Andrew Adonis (Labour), Lord Mike Storey (Lib Dems), and Lord Frank Field (a Crossbencher). This amendment will make it a statutory duty for all secondary schools to provide meetings with their students between 1 September and 28 February each academic year. These dates are essential because school recruitment lists are closed at the end of March as by then students will have selected which school/educational pathway they want to attend. The amendment specifically provides for Years 8 & 9, Year 11, and Year 13 which means that 13-and-14-year-olds, 15-and 16-year-olds, and 18-year-olds will be advised of the various alternatives available for their education and training.
I have taken separate legal advice and I am assured this amendment would work satisfactorily.
The amendment will also have the strong support of FE Colleges, apprenticeship providers, private learning and employment providers, and UCAS (which is seeking to digitalise the Baker Clause), and University Technical Colleges.
I hope the Government will accept my amendment for if it is on the Statute Book by the end of the year, meetings with alternative providers can start next January 2022 and this would improve student enrolment in September 2022. Any delay would postpone improving student choice until at the earliest September 2023, or more likely September 2024.”