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A systematic literature review of research (1988-2004) into the impact of career education and guidance during Key Stage 4 on young people's transitions into post-16 opportunities

What do we want to know?

Successful transition through the education system into further work, education and training is central to current United Kingdom Government policies, designed to promote social inclusion as well as economic prosperity through the development of skills. However, by the end of 2000, one in four of all 16-18 year-olds was not in full-time education or training; this was below international averages reported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Access to high-quality information, advice and guidance tailored to meet young people's needs is crucial to fulfilling Government targets. The review aims to assess existing research evidence concerned with the impact of careers education and guidance (CEG) during Key Stage 4 on the transitions of young people to post-16 opportunities. It also aims to consider the influence of other internal and external factors on the effectiveness of CEG in relation to the outcomes of transitions.

Who wants to know?

Policy-makers; planners; managers; practitioners; researchers

What did we find?  

  • The level of young people's career-related skills seems to be an important factor in their transition at 16, with those with a high level of skills being less likely to modify choices or switch courses. CEG provision appears to have a positive impact on this.
  • CEG provision is variable in quality.  Integration of CEG with guidance provision and the wider curriculum appears to be a key factor.  Interventions are more effective if they are flexibly designed to meet the needs of individuals or specific groups.
  • Good quality individual career guidance is important in the development of career-related learning outcomes.  People are a key resource.
  • Provision of information about post-16 options is patchy.  It needs to be designed in a way that is relevant and appropriate to its target audience.
  • CEG should be provided earlier in the school career.  Information and help needs to be provided at times that best suit the needs of students.
  • CEG has different effects on different types of people.  Additional appropriate CEG for children at risk can have a significant impact on their learning outcomes.
  • CEG teachers need access to systematic training.

What are the implications?

  • Initiatives are more effective if given a long enough timescale and sufficient resources.  Partnership between schools and outside agencies is important.

  • CEG provision needs to be flexible and targeted. Person-led provision is more effective than system-led.

  • CEG should be integrated with individual guidance and the wider curriculum.  It should be promoted from Year 7 onwards.

  • There should be provision for best practice to be shared.

How did we get these results?

Ten studies were included in the in-depth review.  All were published between 1988 and 2004. 

This summary was prepared by the EPPI Centre

This report should be cited as: Smith D, Lilley R, Marris L, Krechowiecka I (2005) A systematic review of research (1988–2004) into the impact of career education and guidance during Key Stage 4 on young people’s transitions into post-16 opportunities. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education.

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