For and Against: should ‘Careers Leader’ be an SLT position?

The rules here are very simple, we take a statement and one person argues ‘For’ and the other ‘Against’. Who wins? Well, that’s for you to decide! There are a few ways in which to cast your vote, all of which you can find at the bottom of the page. In the first of the series, Mike Britland debates the statement ‘should careers leader be an SLT position’ with Careers education legend Janet College.

For – Mike Britland

I’ve always thought that the work of a Careers Leader can have such a transformative effect on school culture and outcomes that the significance of the work should be recognised by a position on SLT.

If we take the role of someone who has responsibility for Teaching and Learning in a school, then they automatically accept that being an SLT position, why should Careers Leader be different?

I’ve heard the argument in the past that Careers Leadership, from an SLT perspective, falls under the Personal Guidance role in SLT. This is a valid argument but I would say that it actually dilutes the significance of the work of a careers leader. The role requires the CL to provide strategic oversight in how Careers education is provided and delivered in schools. They work with multiple internal stakeholders (teachers, heads of year, heads of curriculum, form tutors, finance, governors, etc) to ensure that provision is delivered effectively. Not only that but they work with a number of external stakeholders to line up effective provision in school. If they’re not doing that themselves they will line manage or quality assure the work being done here.

Cutting to the root, one the single biggest factors with schools improving their careers provision centres on staff not seeing it as a priority. They see the Careers Leader role at best as a middle leadership position. The average Careers Leader doesn’t have the position as their main role – it is often coupled or tripled with other positions in the school. We wouldn’t ask the person charged with improving teaching and learning or behaviour in the same way. One of the very best ways of making rapid progress with this is by elevating the Careers Leader on to the Senior Leadership Team then free up their timetable to spend quality time on strategic planning and delivery…staff will soon sit up and notice that.

Against – Janet Colledge

Careers leaders (CL) come in many different varieties, from those whose only job is to deliver a school or several schools’ careers programme down to those who are Deputy or Assistant heads and have little or no time to allocate to careers.  Whilst it is true that there is no right answer for all schools, I’m very much of the opinion that a middle ranked CL is the way to go for many (most?) schools. This is my reasoning…

SLT members often have several ‘hats’ to wear as well as teaching commitments and very rarely have the time to deliver the full range of CL responsibilities beyond that of being the named person on the access policy (Baker Clause).  Empirically, SLT CLs often don’t have the time or are not released to attend the CL course and thus don’t necessarily ‘see’ the wide range of responsibilities that the role comes with.  If you’re unsure, look at the Careers Leader Handbook1 a whole section consisting of 43 pages is devoted to covering the role and duties.

Careers learning is, in its 21st C sense, too big to be delivered by one single person, it needs a team.  A CL with a middle leadership role would have an SLT line manager, who would be their voice at SLT meetings and lend weight to whole school actions.  This is the start of the team. The CL being the school expert and the line manager their voice at SLT.  It is of course vital that the SLT member is ‘sold’ on the value of careers learning and that may fall on the CL shoulders to provide that informal CPD to develop that understanding.

The next member of the team depends on the background of the CL. 

If the CL is a teacher, they will have teaching duties but need to be given a reasonable amount of time to deliver the additional duties attached to the role in the form of PPA time.  There will also need to be a qualified careers adviser bought in to deliver guidance.

If the CL is a careers adviser, then they will spend many hours triaging and seeing clients as well as organizing the careers programme.  So, therefore they will need support in the form of a teacher who can support planning and delivery of lessons, drop down days etc.

The final member of the core team would be the schools’ link governor for careers who supports and challenges the SLT to ensure sufficient resources and support are available.

Finally, Don’t let it stop there… think careers champions. Not sure what they are?  Explanation can be found in my blog here and in the network piece here

So, it’s over to you…vote below and then share your vote on Twitter or Facebook:

UPDATE – We were really happy with the response from you all about this piece. People were sharing their thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and the poll above. Although the split on our social channels was pretty split, the above poll was definitive – as of Monday 22nd November 71% of you agreed with Mike.

The arguments above were pretty close and both Mike and Janet agreed that both points of view were not a million miles away from each other. One thing that we can all agree on is that for Careers education, be it in schools, colleges or university, to have the necessary impact, school leaders at all levels need to treat it seriously and work hand-in-hand to make change happen.

To submit a question or statement to debate on the ‘For and Against’ series, then email adding ‘For and Against’ as the subject heading.

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