Q&A: What is the IAG strategy all about?

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At some point in their careers most teachers have been asked by pupils for guidance about different education pathways and careers options.  Now, the Government’s Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) strategy places schools at the heart of this process.  So what is the IAG strategy all about, and what do teachers need to know?

What is the Information Advice and Guidance strategy?

In October 2009 the Government launched a new strategy to make careers education and Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) more relevant to the 21st century.  The Information Advice and Guidance strategy aims to make careers education more accessible for young people and ensure  each one of them, whatever their background, can make the right education and training choices so they have the best possible chance of succeeding. 

Why has the strategy been introduced?

For a number of reasons.  Firstly, with the participation age increasing to 18 in 2015, it’s more important than ever that all young people know about the different learning routes and qualifications available to them - including Diplomas, Apprenticeships and Foundation Learning as well as GCSEs and A Levels. 

For some young people who have grown up in families and households where there is no knowledge of the education, training and employment options available, this support will be invaluable.  For other young people, having the opportunity to talk through the different options means making the right choices is less daunting. 

The strategy will also help to ensure parents are better informed about the different options available, so they can help their children to make the right decisions.

Another reason for the new strategy is the changing jobs market.  In spite of the current economic difficulties, the global economy is expected to double in size by 2030, creating up to a billion new jobs in high-skilled industries. Young people therefore need a good, well-rounded education, relevant and rigorous qualifications and broader employability skills to prosper in this changing market.

The right IAG can help to excite young people about their future lives and raise their aspirations about what they can achieve. It helps young people to progress to higher education and opens their eyes to professions and careers that they otherwise might never have thought of.

What are young people entitled to under the new IAG strategy?

• Excellent, personalised and impartial careers information, advice and guidance in schools
• Support for parents so they can help their children to make the right decisions
• Online IAG resources, accessible 24/7 by young people and their parents, with links into one-to-one advice
• Lots of opportunities for young people to get a feel for different courses and careers, through taster sessions and high quality experiences – both of HE and of workplaces
• Opportunities to build a relationship with a respected adult through mentoring or shadowing, especially important for disadvantaged young people who often underestimate their own abilities and how far these can take them
• Access to specialist local help for vulnerable young people and those with additional needs.

Do teachers have a role in the new strategy?

Yes.  The new IAG strategy reflects the fact that it’s not just careers advisers who have the potential to shape young people’s views and influence the education and career decisions that affect their future.  Young people are likely to turn first for advice to the teachers they know best. In October 2009 a survey by the British Youth Council, National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and Young NCB revealed that almost 60 per cent of young people consider teachers to be one of the key influences on their future careers. 
So IAG should become a cumulative, active process involving a number of different teachers and advisers, rather than merely a single event involving a careers specialist. 

What will be expected of teachers?

Schools are required to provide a programme of impartial careers education to students from year 7 to 11.  As part of this, all teachers and some support teachers may be asked to provide information and impartial advice on 14-19 pathways and on learning and progression routes for their own specialist subject, including into higher education and the workplace. 

Some teachers may also be asked to act as personal tutors.  Under the new strategy, from September 2010 every secondary school student will receive personal tutoring from a single member of staff who knows them well, has an overview of their progress and can signpost them to additional resources, support or advice that will help them to address any learning needs or issues, so they can achieve their potential.

Subject teachers are expected to consider how they can build information about learning routes and work choices into their subject teaching. Young people are more likely to be motivated to learn and achieve if they understand why their learning is relevant to their futures.

How do local authorities and Connexions services fit into the new strategy?
It is local authorities that will work with 14-19 partnerships to agree strategies with schools and colleges to deliver IAG. 

Local authorities are responsible for commissioning IAG services, so that they can integrate IAG with the wider youth support service. These external IAG services include Connexions services, voluntary and community service organisations and other private organisations working under contract to the local authority.

Professional advisers providing careers education and information, advice and guidance will receive ongoing training, so that they can provide the best, most up to date information and guidance to meet the individual needs of each young person.
What about the national Connexions Direct website?

The Connexions Direct national website and helpline service (www. connexions-direct.com) provides young people with information, advice and support on a range of issues, including careers and learning. 

The website receives around 150,000 visits per week, whilst contacts to the helpline service average around 6,500 per week.  Young people can contact the helpline 18 hours a day, 365 days a year, via telephone, email, webchat and text message.  Feedback from young people is positive, and local providers of information, advice and guidance welcome the additional backdrop of support.   Young people's views are taken into account in developing the service to ensure their needs continue to be met.  

Connexions Direct gives help on a range of issues including health, housing, free-time, money, relationships, legal rights and personal development as well as careers, work, and learning advice.

What support will be offered to teachers to help them provide IAG?
For school leaders the National College for School Leadership and Children’s Services is providing guidance and, through its IAG Reference Group, supporting school leaders on effective IAG practice.

There is lots of information and guidance for teachers online, including the following resources:

Quality, Choice and Aspiration - A strategy for young people’s information, advice and guidance

Statutory Guidance for schools on Impartial Careers Education

Impartial Careers Education Statutory Guidance: Resources Pack

Impartial Careers Education: Principles into Practice (National College, 2009)

Impartial careers education: Effective leadership of information, advice and guidance
(National College, 2009)

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