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This briefing applies to England only.


Since September 2013, local authority-maintained schools in England have been under a duty to provide impartial careers guidance to pupils from years 8 to 13 (ages 12-18). The Department for Education has published statutory guidance (most recently updated in October 2018) for maintained schools on their duty to provide careers guidance.

Many academies and free schools are subject to the duties relating to careers guidance through their funding agreements, including those which opened from September 2012 onwards and those which have moved to an updated funding agreement. Academies without the requirement are encouraged to follow the guidance as a statement of good practice. 

All further education (FE) colleges and sixth form colleges have been required to secure access to independent careers guidance from September 2013. This requirement is part of FE college and sixth form college funding agreements. The Department for Education has published guidance for FE and sixth form colleges to draw on in fulfilling this duty. 

The quality of careers advice has been subject to frequent criticism, and recent governments have made several reforms, including the establishment of the National Careers Service and the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC), aimed at improving the quality and range of careers advice on offer. In 2019, the Local Government Association called upon the Government to “end the patchwork of careers activity in England”, and hand funding and control of employment schemes to local authorities (local authorities being responsible for providing a careers service prior to the Education Act 2011). Also in 2019, the Augar Review on post-18 education stated that it believed secondary schools “careers support [to be] still underfunded” and recommended that every secondary school become part of a Careers Hub. Careers Hubs, run by the Careers and Enterprise Company, work with schools and colleges to train staff to improve careers advice and provide opportunities to engage with employers.

Higher education institutions are not required to provide careers advice, but nonetheless this service is offered across institutions.

DfE Careers Strategy and Skills for Jobs white paper

The Department for Education’s Careers Strategy was published in December 2017.  It set out a series of measures to be implemented between 2018 and 2020 to improve careers guidance in England, including the introduction of new benchmarks for careers education, an investment fund for disadvantaged pupils, and a named Careers Leader in every school and college.

The Government’s ‘Skills for Jobs’ white paper on further education and skills, published in January 2021, included further plans to strengthen careers advice. The Government has stated that it will consult on these changes.

Private Member’s Bill

On 16 June 2021, Mark Jenkinson presented the Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Bill, which would extend the duty to provide careers guidance in schools. In his announcement of the Bill, Mr Jenkinson stated that the Bill would extend the requirements to provide careers guidance to children in year 7, and also implement the proposals in the Skills White Paper. Both the Government and Opposition have expressed their support for the Bill.

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