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Guidance and Advice Service

Volume 557: debated on Monday 21 January 2013

15. What progress he has made on ensuring the provision of a high-quality information, advice and guidance service in all secondary schools. (137914)

An excellent, broad education grounded in core subjects such as maths, languages and sciences is an important foundation for a successful career. That is why we have introduced the English baccalaureate to encourage students not to close off their options too early. We have also given schools a new duty to secure independent careers guidance, which will help students to make informed choices about the best study routes for them.

The Minister must know that children from more socially deprived backgrounds desperately need high-quality careers advice. All the evidence is that that careers advice is diminishing rapidly up and down this country. What is she going to do about that to help those young people?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. As I have said, ensuring that more students are taking core subjects means that they will have better career opportunities later in life, and extending the opportunity to study maths and English beyond GCSE level for those who have not got a grade C means that they will get those important points. We have developed the National Careers Service, and the helpline has had 62,000 contacts with 13 to 18-year-olds, giving people these opportunities. We also ask schools to offer face-to-face advice. The key is that students get a good education; that is what will help them to compete in the world.

Tens of billions of pounds are spent on post-14 education alone, and the choices made by young people are crucial to their future and to that of the nation. The Education Committee’s report on careers advice and guidance will come out on Wednesday. Does the Minister agree that we must ensure that the right advice and guidance is in place, not only to help those most disadvantaged in our society but to ensure the most effective use of public funds?

Of course I will be extremely interested to see what the Select Committee report says on the subject. We do need good careers guidance, but we also need a system where students have an incentive to take subjects that will prove of value to them later in life. That is the whole point of the English baccalaureate.