EY: Parental advice leaves out alternatives to university

18 December 2014 Consultancy.uk

Parents play an important part in the career choice process of their children, reveals research by EY. The survey shows that 70% of parents prefer their child to attend university, and 50% admitted to try to influence their children’s choice. Only a quarter of students received information on alternatives to university, although the research also shows that this information is often not easy to find. As such, parents, schools and employers should cooperate more, concludes EY.

Professional services firm EY, graduate recruitment specialists GTI Media, and the Association of Graduate Careers Services (AGCAS) recently released a new research into the career choices path of students and the influence of parents on this process. For the research, the consortium surveyed 3,383 university students and 807 parents in the UK.

EY, GTI Media and Association of Graduate Careers Services

The research shows that parents have a significant influence on all aspects of their children’s future careers, and half of the parents surveyed admitted to try to influence their children’s choice of university, degree and future job or career. The vast majority, 66%, of students stated to feel comfortable with their parents influencing their career choices as “it’s the right thing for parents to do.”

Around 70% of the parent respondents stated to encourage their children to go to university, of which 43% feel that a university degree will improve the career options of their children, more than doing an apprenticeship, school-leaver programme or by joining the job market after college. Almost three out of four (27%) students stated not to receive any advice on alternatives to university. “The survey results would suggest that for many parents, university is still seen as the default option and the safest route to achieving career success. Whereas in reality, entering the workplace straight after A-Levels can play to the strengths of highly-focused students and provide them with a real head-start in their careers,” explains Julie Stanbridge, Head of Student Recruitment at EY.

Julie Stanbridge, EY

Alternatives to university
Although most parents prefer their children to attend university, the survey also highlights the fact that information on alternatives is not always easy to find. As much 76% of the parents do not know where to find advice online about these alternatives, and 63% said they are reliant on career advisors and careers events as their only source of information. “There is clearly a real need for greater engagement between parents, schools and employers to ensure that they are equipped with all the information they need to advise their children about the breadth of opportunities available. Employers could consider exploring opportunities to get involved with parent’s evenings, establish closer relationships with career advisors as well as encouraging former students to return to their old schools to discuss their experiences on a school-leaver programme or apprenticeship,” concludes Stanbridge.

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Deloitte gagged by Government over academy insolvency

20 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

Big Four firm Deloitte is subject to a so-called gagging clause with relation to its work to close the multi-academy trust WCAT. According to reports from the UK media, the clause prevents Deloitte from saying anything that would “embarrass” the Department for Education.

The UK Government initiated its flagship policy of pushing for the academisation of state schools in 2010. An academy trust is an exempt charity regulated by the Department for Education. The belief of the Conservative-led coalition at the time was that by bringing in an outside source to oversee the financial side of the school – such as a business as a sponsor, or a larger academy chain – the pressure of keeping a school afloat as well as increasing results is lessened, and the existing school body can focus on education standards, whilst the sponsor keeps an eye on the budget.

Since then, the number of children in state-funded schools in England taught in an academy or free school has risen to more than 50%. The incumbent Conservative-led Government has made it a policy to see all schools in England become academies in the next two years. Education Secretary Damian Hinds has cited standards rising faster in many sponsored academies than in similar council-run schools as a reason why state schools should consider the switch.

Deloitte gagged by Government over academy insolvency

However, while the Government remains keen to extoll the supposed economic virtues of becoming an academy, 2017 saw one of its keystone academy trusts collapse into administration. Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was a multi-academy trust that managed 21 schools across West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, and East Yorkshire. The board of the trust of seven secondary and 14 primary schools announced that, just days into the new school term, it did not have “the capacity to facilitate the rapid improvement our academies need and our students deserve”. Deloitte was installed to oversee the insolvency process.

Over the course of the following year, Deloitte was paid £198,570 to support the Department for Education (DfE) for 12 months to shut WCAT, according to a freedom of information request obtained by Schools Week. The department needed financial and insolvency expertise to put the trust into insolvency and transfer its schools to other trusts, a process which concluded in November 2018. However, in order to undertake that work, Deloitte was required to agree to a contract banning it from saying anything that would “embarrass” the Government or any other crown bodies, including the office of the Prime Minister.

This is of particular interest, as it has also emerged that the DfE gave the beleaguered academy trust £500,000 in 2015, despite serious concerns about its finances. Education news platform Schools Week found that at the time, then-Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had announced WCAT as one of five “outstanding” sponsors to share in £5 million under the government’s Northern Powerhouse scheme. This occurred despite Government officials' awareness of concerns at the trust, including potential irregular payments and poor financial management and governance.

A copy of Deloitte’s contract to oversee the winding up of WCAT reportedly included a clause preventing the Big Four firm from distributing facts which could “cause, permit, contribute or is in any way connected to material adverse publicity” relating to the DfE. Under the header “publicity, media and official enquiries”, the contract stated that it could not bring the DfE into “disrepute by engaging in any act or omission which is reasonably likely to diminish the trust” which the public has in the department.

In 2018, UK broadsheet The Times revealed that about 40 charities and 300 companies similarly leveraged such “gagging clauses” in Government contracts, totalling £25 billion. The DfE has since told the press that it puts publicity clauses in place to “protect commercially sensitive information”, and that these do not stop organisations from fairly criticising government departments or policies. While this was echoed by Theresa May, however, the Prime Minister also promised to review the wording in such contracts – something which suggests that the gagging details may be more comprehensive than the DfE might admit.

Related: Quantuma appointed administrator for Manor House School.