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Ofsted: Employers lack skill to support SEND work experience

Some employers lack the “knowledge or confidence” to offer learners with SEND high-quality work experience, an Ofsted review has found.

The watchdog was tasked by the Department for Education with reviewing careers advice in specialist settings. It visited five special schools, three pupil referral units and four independent specialist colleges.

Ofsted also interviewed inspectors and local authority staff, held focus groups with “key stakeholders and employers” and reviewed a sample of inspection evidence.

Its “overall sample size was small, and we need to be cautious in treating our findings as representative of specialist settings nationally”, the report warned.

But it found that a young person’s own voice was “central to good careers guidance in specialist settings”.

Where staff develop a close and trusting relationship with learners and their families, “career plans are practical and ambitious”.

The review continued: “All of the providers visited by inspectors had a highly personalised approach to careers guidance, with the curriculum tailored to meet learners’ individual needs.”

‘Mixed’ results

Leaders “prioritised work experience and many were building relationships with employers”.

But the results were “mixed”, with some employers “lacking the knowledge or confidence to offer learners with SEND high-quality work experience”.

Sir Martin Oliver

Ofsted said parents and carers of children attending specialist settings were “often anxious about their future”.

Good providers “make efforts to reduce that anxiety through well-established communication tools, such as newsletters, phone calls and events that link parent evenings with career events”.

Chief inspector Sir Martyn Oliver said that “good careers guidance can help address social inequality by teaching children and young people with SEND about the full range of options available”.

Children attending these schools “deserve the kind of high-quality advice that opens the doors to ambitious and interesting experiences”.

A review of careers advice in mainstream settings last year found that some schools were still biased towards academic routes.

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