I can hear you thinking ‘What is CEIAG?’
I know that a few of my twitter friends will know – it is what we used to call ‘Careers’ in the old days. It stands for Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance. I loved being a Careers teacher. The role became really important over time and I rode on a wave of Careers, Enterprise, Information, Advice, Guidance, Work-Related Learning and potential NEETs. It was a great time. I challenged myself year by year to reduce the numbers of NEETs my school turned out. Believe me, the figures were pretty horrendous initially. Working in an area of high deprivation with many parents being third generation unemployed, it made my role even more crucial and I worked hard to support, advise, make the right links, give them real experience of the world of work and drive down NEET numbers. I loved it! We were so lucky because in my area we had brilliant connections and helped each other to do the best for those students. Connexions were fantastic, as were local colleges and employers. I owe them all.
Then suddenly, it all fell apart. In a handful of schools, the hard work continued as they realised just how important this area was. In others, as test results, SATs, exams and data became the most important things, many let ‘Careers’ fall by the wayside. It took up valuable time on the timetable. Outside agencies weren’t always able to help due to budget cuts, or simply became too expensive to buy in. If there wasn’t a focussed person to co-ordinate things and fight for those students to get impartial advice, it didn’t happen. Work experience was written off as a waste of time and too much effort.
Isn’t it time we took stock and decided WHY we teach young people? What is the purpose of school? Do we want to produce well-rounded individuals who recognise their skills, know how to transfer them, communicate well, make decisions, solve problems? Or do we want academic people who focus on a subject area, fill themselves up with memorised facts but can’t cope with the unknown world of ten years’ time?
I constantly told my students to ignore the elderly family members who asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. The question has no relevance in a society where exponential change happens in a five year period. I don’t know what jobs will exist in five years’ time – so how can I advise young people other than to tell them that skills and competencies are the tools they most need to cope with what lies ahead?