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1 Should we extend the new duty on schools to secure independent, impartial careers guidance for their pupils, downwards to Year 8 (age 12- 13), from September 2013?

The Society would welcome the extension of the new duty to secure independent impartial careers guidance for pupils downwards to Year 8.

The Society would wish to see secondary schools provide the pupils with an early introduction to guidance around careers and further study. This should help them understand the importance of key subjects in enabling a wide range of further study and career options, particularly the E-Bac subjects, well before they come to make choices to study them at GCSE.

Greater encouragement should also be provided for KS3 teachers to include, where appropriate in their subject specialist teaching, case studies about the relevance of specific subjects to further study and the workplace.


2 Should we extend the new duty to secure independent, impartial careers guidance, upwards to young people aged 16-18 in schools, sixth form colleges and further education institutions, from September 2013?

Please Note: If the consultation supports the extension of the new duty to 16- 18 in schools, sixth form colleges and further education institutions, the Government will consider extending to other provision including Work-Based Education and Training. However this is out of scope for this consultation.

Yes. The Society would strongly welcome the extension of the new duty to secure independent, impartial careers guidance for young people aged 16-18, to help inform their choices of further study and careers beyond school. In our experience, too few pupils have a good grasp of the wide range of career opportunities that studying specific subjects, and groups of subjects, at A level offer.

The Society would also wish to see greater use by teachers and careers advisors of the Russell Group of Universities Informed Choices report which identifies a preferred list of ‘facilitating subjects’ at A Level.

The Society notes the importance of the E-Bac family of subjects at GCSE and the Informed Choices ‘facilitating subjects’ at A Level and the inclusion of geography within both.


3 What issues, if any, would arise for your institution from the requirement to provide access to independent careers guidance?

No issues would arise; in contrast the Society’s substantial existing careers guidance would be used more widely.

The Society provides advice and support for further study and careers through the discipline of geography (please see section four below for further details) which could be further promoted and used as a resource by careers advisers. The Department may wish to consider whether, and how, the materials and advice/support that we provide could be promoted for use more widely. Those materials draw on our close links with not only schools, but also higher education, employers and professional geographers in the workplace.

In addition to the provision of independent careers guidance the Society believes there is a need for a greater focus on the provision of careers and further study advice within a subject specialist context. We believe in this regard that we provide an example of good practice which could be further developed within other subject disciplines.

Furthermore, subject specialist teachers should be encouraged to engage with careers and further study on an on-going basis within their subject teaching. The Society would prefer to see this approach instead of a subject’s relevance to the workplace being (as is often the case now) relegated to a few sentences in a Year 9 options booklet.


4 Any other comments?

Supporting further study and careers through geography

As the Learned Society and Professional body for Geography the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) has led the development of subject specific support for further study and careers within geography. This work draws on our strength in supporting the discipline of across schools, in higher education and within the professions. The Society has established a successful programme of advice and support for young people in relation to further study and careers through geography. This programme includes:

  • The Geography Ambassadors programme.

This national programme provides Geography Ambassador presentations to KS3 and KS4 pupils. These presentations are provided by current geography undergraduates, who are recruited from 50 universities, and by workplace ambassadors. Presentations focus on the relevance of further study in geography at GCSE, AS, A2 and degree level and how studying geography can lead to a wide range of careers that draw upon either the knowledge or the skills learned, or both. In 2011 the programme was expanded through a partnership with Esri UK (the UK’s leading supplier of Geographical Information Systems) and the development of a new cohort of workplace ‘GIS Ambassadors’.

The Geography Ambassadors programme was launched in 2006. It has provided presentations to c150,000 pupils and currently reaches 30,000+ pupils annually. The Ambassadors act as informed and passionate advocates and role models for the relevance of geography and help showcase the importance of their subject in the real world. Feedback on the programme has been overwhelmingly positive. Teachers have commented that it has opened their pupils’ eyes to the wide range of jobs that geographers do and also helped increase uptake in this subject as a result.

  • Going Places with Geography Study conferences

The Society runs a number of popular Going Places conferences each year which provide careers guidance from speakers from Higher Education, business, statutory and civil society organisations. Our most recent event on the 4th July attracted an audience of 370 pupils.

  • The relevance of careers to the geography curriculum

The Society has been encouraging teachers to embed case studies of relevant careers undertaken by geographers within their lessons. For example, this might include starting a unit of work on the location of a supermarket with a case study of a planner; featuring the work of a flood prevention officer to introduce hydrology; or geographers working in international business and finance as part of work on globalisation. In this way pupils can immediately see the relevance and real world application of their geographical studies to a wide range of potential careers.

  • Supporting the study in geography at university

Through pupils (and their parents and teachers) can find out information about each UK university that provides a degree programme for geography. Further information is also provided about the wider range of careers geographers undertake

In common with other Learned bodies the Society has the best interests of our subject and its practice at heart, rather than the ‘conflicting interests that affect each of the other stakeholder groups’ (Ofqual Fit for Purpose 2012 pg 141). We also welcome the opportunity to contribute to the review of A Levels, and other examinations and curricula, to help ensure that the knowledge, skills and understanding provided by studying geography helps young people progress into further study and the workplace.

In this context, the Society is pleased to note that the recent HESA survey of university graduates showed the unemployment rates for geographers to be among the lowest recorded, second only to law, psychology and sports science. In addition, in today’s world where an estimated 80% of business decisions are underpinned by location. It is therefore un-surprising that the geospatial industry is growing rapidly and many employers are seeking graduates with an understanding of and ability to use Geographical Information Systems (GIS). This trend was noted by Ofqual in relation to A Level geography where “the inclusion of training in using GIS, which is used in many workplaces, was seen as a useful addition to the syllabus by those working in higher education”. (Ofqual Fit for Purpose 2012 pg140)




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