Teach First

The important role of teachers in providing quality careers learning

Teachers need to be at the heart of careers education for young people, ensuring that they receive the guidance and motivation needed to lead them towards a successful career. Yet the needs of young people, particularly those from poorer backgrounds, aren't being served by current careers learning in schools. Today we're launching a new report on this issue, titled 'Careers education in the classroom: The role of teachers in making young people work ready'.

Download the report here

It calls for a coordinated effort across society to create effective careers education in schools. Analysis of Department for Education data reveals that poorer children are already five times more likely to be not in employment, education or training (NEET) compared to their wealthier peers, after the age of 16. Our own research highlights how careers training for teachers has been bypassed, despite the importance of their role in providing quality careers learning.

We want every school to have a high-quality and trained careers leader, to oversee the delivery of school career and employability plans, manage links with employers, universities and independent career advisers and ensure that employability is built into school life. With the financial support of our corporate supporters, Goldman Sachs and the KPMG Foundation, we're taking a step towards this by launching our own careers training for those who are currently on our teacher training programme,  as well as those who have completed it and who are now in positions of middle leadership in schools. Our careers training is specifically aimed at supporting pupils from low-income communities, who lack the guidance to which their wealthier peers often have easier access.
 
You can also read the original research that we commissioned, carried out by the International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby, which formed the basis for our report.
 
We aren't alone in believing that good careers education can make a definitive difference in young people's lives. It's a belief we share with teachers, academics, business leaders, policymakers, and - not least - pupils themselves.
 
 
 
Fatima Latunji, pupil, King Solomon Academy
"As a Year 11 student at King Solomon Academy, I'm lucky to have teachers who help me reach my full potential. Many of them have come through Teach First and I think their training and their motivation has helped inspire my own ambition to do my best. But few young people have access to a truly excellent education, so while I might gain from it, millions of other teenagers don’t. This is why I want to become a teacher or journalist so I can help make a difference to people's lives."
 
 
 
Jude Heaton, Teach First’s Director for Higher Education Access and Employability
“There is a pressing need for careers and employability education to be improved in this country, with acute moral and economic implications for all of us – particularly those from poorer backgrounds. As those best placed to support children with their aspirations and careers choices, teachers are at the core of any lasting solution, yet too often when we talk about the paths in life that are right for young people, teachers are an afterthought. This needs to change. As today’s research demonstrates, we know that with the right support, the right training, and the right incentives to support pupils with careers learning, teachers are the crucial part of the careers puzzle. But teachers can’t do it alone. The long-term systemic change necessary, requires efforts from policymakers, employers, and rest of civil society. It is time for all of us to act.” 
 
 
 
Russell Hobby, General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)
“If education and business are truly serious about social mobility, we need to re-examine careers education in schools. The simple fact is that poorer pupils cannot rely exclusively on their qualifications. Above all, they need to know how things operate in the world of work. Teachers and schools leaders have a vital role in bringing together the opportunities for employment that are out there and embedding them in pupils education. However, amidst a constantly changing labour market and the variety of interests and ambitions that pupils have, they cannot do this alone.  With the support of policymakers and businesses, teachers must have more time and guidance to help deliver careers education in schools. While good practice in the provision of careers education already exists in many schools, there is a long way still to go to ensure that every teacher has the resources they need to support their pupils and equip them for work in the modern world.”
 
 
 
Professor Tristram Hooley, University of Derby, lead researcher for the report
“Teachers are crucial in ensuring that pupils get the careers education they need to progress into employment and further learning. We need to increase the focus on career and employability learning in both initial teacher education and teachers’ professional development. Government has an important role in signalling the importance of this area and needs to spell this out far more clearly in new statutory guidance. Leading careers work in a school is a critical role which requires the upskilling and recognition of teachers who take it on. If we can develop impassioned careers champions in all of our schools we can create a truly world-class career development system.”
 
Nicky Morgan MP, Education Secretary
“The government’s plan for education is designed to ensure all young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain, and employability skills are a vital part of this. Some schools and colleges already do fantastic work to ensure their students graduate with the knowledge and skills employers need, but too often provision is patchy and in some places inadequate; busy schools and teachers do not always have the time or training to give this crucial area the focus they should. It is clear that many schools and colleges need additional support if we are to ensure every young person - regardless of background - receives the life-changing advice and inspiration that they need to fulfil their potential and succeed in life. This is why we have created a new careers and enterprise company to support schools with external links to boost employability and why we welcome this excellent report and Teach First’s vision that every school is supported to have a trained middle leadership role which can drive careers education and employer engagement internally, within schools.”  
 
Tristram Hunt MP, Shadow Education Secretary
“No child should be closed off from the world at the end of their street. But all too often children are being denied the information, advice and guidance that they need to make informed decisions that will shape their futures. This is a really exciting report by Teach First and a first-rate plan of action that puts teachers at the heart of the solution.”
 
David Laws, Liberal Democrat Schools Minister
"High quality careers advice is vital to raise young people's aspirations and build a stronger economy and a fairer society. We know that some schools are providing fantastic examples of careers education. The next step is to disseminate this more widely to support a generation of teachers capable of making the UK a world leader in careers education. I therefore welcome this report and the Teach First commitment to train teachers to drive employability learning within schools. Working collaboratively with teachers to put careers at the heart of classroom life will ensure that young people have the knowledge and understanding of the future careers available to them."