I’m aware that teachers visit this site and thought it might be helpful to say a bit about what secondary schools should consider in terms of improving the careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG for short) they provide.

Teachers are expert at devising learning progammes and activities for their students.  The main impediment tends to be knowing what learning outcomes to prioritise.  So I’ll set out some basic principles.

The basics of a good CEIAG programme.

Young people need opportunities to think themselves into the unfamiliar role of being an adult employee or (possibly) business owner.  So they need to develop an awareness of the local and national labour market and of a range of different job sectors with their associated job roles.

In addition, they need opportunities to consider how their own interests, values, abilities and circumstances might affect their future career path.

Furthermore, they need to develop a set of career management skills including very practical skills like job search, networking,  applying for jobs etc.

At its most basic level,  a careers education programme should help the learners to answer three (not so simple) questions:

Q1. Asking “Who am I?” helps a student explore their likes and dislikes.  For example, comparing classes a student enjoys with those they don’t can be a good guide to exploring career paths.Q2. Secondly, “How do I want to live my life?” helps students determine lifestyle issues. For example, helping others may be more of a priority than financial success. Being free to travel may be more important than being rooted in an office.

Q3. Thirdly, asking “What do I have to give?” helps a student to examine their unique set of skills and interests to find a place in society where these can be useful to others while allowing the individual to thrive.

This is a very practical and intrinsically interesting area so lots of hands-on, experiential learning is what you should aim for.  Bear in mind that work experience (in its varying forms), volunteering and other extracurricular activities can give your learners a taste for those careers while providing valuable hands-on experience.

You can state the broad aims of a CEIAG programme as:

  • Enabling  students to make considered decisions in regard to future choices; and
  • Preparing students for transition to further education or employment with training

And these are some ways that careers teachers can make this happen:

  • Provide a range of opportunities that enhance the curriculum (enterprise projects,  visits/taster days to colleges/universities)
  • Promote awareness of the world of work  (visitors from business, work experience, volunteering)
  • Promote  a range of opportunities and provisions which assist in raising  aspirations and achievement  (industry specific talks and presentations, visitors from colleges and sixth forms, skill show visits)
  • Provide informed and impartial guidance (options evenings, careers fairs, college/sixth form/university visits, access to a qualified and impartial careers adviser)
  • Provide dedicated careers lessons which:
    • increase awareness and understanding  of work, industry, the economy and community
    • Relate skills, attitudes and knowledge learned in school and elsewhere to the wider world
    • Develop students’ personal and social skills to relate to the  world of  work
  • develop and maintain effective links with key partners (independent guidance providers, EBP, colleges, universities, training providers, employers, enterprise partnerships (through local networks or national programmes such as Inspiring the Future)
  • Ensure that each curriculum area identifies careers and work related learning elements and includes these in lesson planning
  • Ensure departments display subject links to occupations and progression (posters etc.)

Making Connections

Schools that do well in this work recognise the importance of collaborating with parents and the wider community.  This is time consuming and senior staff need to give serious thought to resourcing issues.

Some things to consider in this context would be:

  • Engaging parents in understanding the vital role they play in their child’s occupational choices
  • Developing programmes and strategies that assist both parents and young people to explore a wide range of occupations can open the door to emerging and non-traditional career choices.
  •  Providing young people with learning opportunities, which challenge them to make sense of situations that they will encounter in various types of employment can provide them with a greater understanding of career options.
  •  Community-based learning that involves students in solving real-world workplace problems directly connects them to the reality of various occupations.
  •  Engaging parents and community in active support of career exploration and choice provides the context that assists young people in making successful transitions into adult workplace roles.
  • managing collaborative partnerships that can help change stakeholders’ perceptions of their role in young adult’s career selection.

read more about this …


The Career Development Institute has developed a framework of learning outcomes which will assist schools in planning and delivering their careers education curriculum. It identifies 17 areas of learning and provides learning outcomes for each of these in respect of Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and 16-19.

In parallel with this development, Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework identifies the following requirements under the heading of effectiveness of leadership and management.

28. … the extent to which leaders, managers and governors:

  • successfully plan and manage learning programmes, the curriculum and careers advice so that all children and learners get a good start and are well prepared for the next stage in their education, training or employment Personal development, behaviour and welfare.

31. … the extent to which the provision is successfully promoting and supporting children’s and other learners’:

  • choices about the next stage of their education, employment, self-employment or training, where relevant, from impartial careers advice and guidance.
  • where relevant, employability skills so that they are well prepared for the next stage of their education, employment, self-employment or training Outcomes for children and other learners.

32. … the extent to which children and learners:

  • attain relevant qualifications so that they can and do progress to the next stage of their education into courses that lead to higher-level qualifications and into jobs that meet local and national needs.