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Securing positive student destinations into apprenticeships and technical education

05 Jul 2023

James Ludlow, Principal at Joseph Leckie Academy, Kim Cook MD, Worcestershire Training Provider Association and Dave Elliott, Recruitment and Careers Manager at Preston College.

At a recent Confederation of School Trusts’ webinar held jointly with the Association of Colleges and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), sector experts and leading practitioners shared how the recently enacted Provider Access Legislation (PAL) can help drive opportunities to support learners to make a positive transition into approved technical routes such as T Levels or apprenticeships. You can also watch the recording of the webinar.

The enhanced Provider Access Legislation (PAL) - which became law in January and is now being implemented across the country – is a step change in the importance of schools working with providers to help young people find their next steps.

While the law means more providers of technical education and apprenticeships (and their associated employers) coming into school to speak to students, it is also driving a need for greater teacher engagement with the world of work, so they have a greater understanding of today’s careers landscape.

This matters because teachers are at the heart of the careers conversation, providing guidance to students on the full range of choices available to them. Further teacher education on today's employment landscape and pathways to build their knowledge and confidence is therefore important to success.

We know teachers are enthusiastic about apprenticeships and want to know more. A Teacher Tapp survey from last year found nearly 70 per cent agreeing that apprenticeships provide excellent future opportunities for students, yet only 26 per cent felt confident advising students about them.

There was broad consensus at the webinar that teacher’s need further support and that teacher development was critical to achieving parity of esteem between academic and vocational routes and supporting students to secure positive and sustainable transitions.

Building connections and relationships with the business community and seeing at first hand the world of work in action is a powerful way to close this knowledge gap. As one of the contributors said, “getting teachers into the workplace is paramount to PAL.” 

Partnership is pivotal

Webinar participants identified the need for collaboration as a critical success factor in delivering PAL and demonstrated a strong commitment to partnership as central to delivering solutions.

Enabling students to explore opportunities and pathways as widely as possible, providing multiple and meaningful touchpoints with and experiences of the workplace are all part of supporting young people to achieve successful and sustainable destinations. Getting it right requires a village of individuals and organisations to join up and work together to ensure that support is delivered effectively and efficiently.

There is wide-spread acknowledgement that more needs to be done to break through some long-standing barriers. There is equally strong recognition that positive progress is being made and that achieving the shared goal of delivering consistently high-quality support for students will be taken further and achieved faster through mutual effort.  

The opportunities identified for accelerating progress and streamlining the journey include maximising the role and local positioning of Careers Hubs as the focal for information and support, in particular in simplifying signposting to and connecting with networks of providers.

There is also agreement that an approach founded on a whole school strategy is key to success, linking all teachers and the curriculum into the process to deliver a coherent, comprehensive and coordinated programme of support that engages all students and ensures parents are part of the conversation.

While schools and providers work together to meet the new requirements and are making significant progress, much is being learned and those lessons can be applied collaboratively in other areas to continue to improve practice. The unifying focus is the determination to ensure all our young people have the best possible support in helping them take their best next step.