What has CSW Group Ltd got to do with the Award?
CSW Group Ltd formerly Careers South West Ltd, and Cornwall and Devon Careers, who originally developed the Award in 1994. They own the brand and copyright to Investor in Careers and all of its associated materials. The Award is offered under licence and by CSW Group nationally.
Who are the assessors?
Pen portraits of assessors are available on this website detailing the skills, background and role of assessors. In summary an assessor will have extensive experience in CEIAG and will have worked at a senior level in this field. All assessors will work to the Investor in Careers assessor standards and attend moderation meetings.
What happens when the Award runs out?
Before the three years have come to an end the organisation will be contacted by CSW or the licensee to remind you of the expiry date. The organisation will have decided whether to apply for renewal, which will involve reassessment. This normally takes place around three months before the expiry date. Reassessment can however, be sought up to three months post expiry, although this is very rare. Where there is a significant time lapse post expiry, or where major structural changes have taken place within the organisation or to the delivery of its CEIAG programme, the organisation may be required to undertake reassessment against the full standard. Advice on this matter should be sought from the local licensee. The performance standards for reassessment are different from those used for the initial awarding of Investor in Careers, and although they are of equal depth they are of less breadth. If successfully reassessed organisations are usually awarded Investor in Careers, for a further three years. Where the assessor has doubts, the Award may be given for a further year, pending an action plan to address areas of improvement specified by the assessor.
How do organisations get an assessor?
Licensees are encouraged to choose which assessor(s) they wish to use, and may choose from the Investor in Careers assessor register. Organisations do not choose the assessor and can't use an assessor who is not registered with Investor in Careers.
What does an assessor want to see?
Assessors will write a letter to organisations seeking the Award before each visit, outlining exactly what they expect from the assessment visit. They will check the portfolio of evidence and will speak face-to-face with senior managers, tutors and governors. They will also speak with other staff, including the Careers Adviser. Importantly, they will wish to speak with groups of students/learners or observe them in a careers lesson. They will want to look at the organisations action plan. Once evidence has been examined and interviews/conversations held they will make a professional judgment that the evidence they have seen and heard meets the criteria for the Award.
What happens after an assessment?
The assessor will give verbal feedback to the organisation. They will produce a full, written report, which is first sent to the licensee and CSW for validation. Once agreed the report will be sent with a letter and certificate to the head of the organisation, to the person responsible for CEIAG or equivalent and to the licensee. Reports are normally completed within ten working days of the last assessment activity.
What if an assessor is not satisfied after an assessment visit?
Three scenarios could present themselves at the end of the visits and after examining the evidence. The first is that the assessor is satisfied that the criteria have been met. The next stages are described above. The second is where the assessor feels the organisation is almost there, but they may need to supply further evidence to support areas where doubt may exist. This further evidence will normally be sent by post or email and will not usually require a further visit. The third scenario is where the assessor feels there are significant gaps in which case it will be necessary to repeat the assessment visit to a timescale agreed between the assessor and the organisation.
What do you receive if you succeed in gaining the Award?
Public recognition for excellence in the delivery of CEIAG is marked through the receipt of a certificate at each stage. In addition upon achievement of the full award the organisation can purchase a plaque. Organisations that hold the full Award also use the Investor in Careers logo on their letterheads and in their corporate livery.
How long does the Award last?
The Award normally lasts for three years, but recommendations can be made by the licensee to withdraw the Award if it is brought to their notice that the standard has dropped below the acceptance level during the three years. Such deterioration in the standard would also be picked up by assessors during their visits to organisations seeking renewal of the Award.
Can organisations only get the Award if they are in areas when an Investor in Careers licence is held?
No. There are examples of organisations that have been successful in achieving the Award without a local licensee. These organisations have worked directly with CSW Group Ltd. We have schools in Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man who are working towards or have achieved the award. We use technology to facilitate this.
What is an Investor in Careers licensee?
This is the organisation that operates the Award under licence from CSW Group Ltd. The licensee will normally operate within an agreed Local Authority area. The licence is valid for one year and enables the licensee to implement the Award in their local area. Licensee representatives from England and Wales meet annually to develop the Award and to exchange good practice; this includes supporting organisations working towards the standard. The final plaque/certificate is presented by the local licensee, or someone they have appointed.
How much work is involved in getting the Investor in Careers Award?
The amount of work involved varies from organisation to organisation and will depend, to a large extent, on what is already in place. The best way to judge the level of resource required, in terms of time, is from the completion of the audit/gap analysis required for Stage 1 against the indicators so that a judgement can be made. Clearly the assembly of the portfolio of evidence, the arrangements for the visiting assessor and preparations for the panel will be a draw on time. However we offer an online portfolio which makes the gathering of evidence easier and less time consuming. This draw however will be relatively small compared with the need to put major programmes of provision into place for CEIAG if they are absent.
Is there any financial commitment required from the organisation seeking Investor in Careers?
First there is the contribution in staff and learner time, which should not be underestimated. The financial cost is paid up front but this is negotiable with CSW Group Ltd. Investor in Careers licensees can give you the current costs for these. Costs are made up of assessor fees for the two assessments and administrative costs in the organising of investor in careers.
What is in it for students and learners?
A sound CEIAG programme ensures that students and learners have both self and opportunity awareness. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that broadening horizons and demonstrating what is open to young people will act as a significant motivator. Higher levels of motivation will increase aspiration and help to pave the way for higher achievement. With well planned CEIAG students are much more likely to make the right choices; this in turn will have a positive effect on discontinuation rates/drop out. It is a requirement of Investor in Careers that young people are involved in both the design and the evaluation of CEIAG programmes. This will ensure that the programmes are perceived as more relevant and that they are turned into young people's thinking. Good CEIAG will also assist in creating relevance in the curriculum to life beyond school and on into the world of work and further study or training. It also promotes equality of opportunity, access to mainstream provision and through these social inclusion.
What is in it for the organisation?
The Award has been structured in such a way that it meets the requirements of legislation and Government guidelines relating to CEIAG (DfE statutory guidance March 2015 and Ofsted September 2015). It provides a framework for both the delivery and for the evaluation of CEIAG and the process can help to provide independent, objective evidence for inspections (e.g. Ofsted). Many organisations gain great value in their communities by the public recognition they receive for their provision of CEIAG via the Award. In most cases the acquisition of the Award will exceed the expectations of inspectors and the public who sit on awarding panels. An additional spin-off from the Award is the integration of CEIAG within the curriculum and the whole school approach to gaining the award.
Do all organisations follow the same criteria?
No. There are different criteria for secondary schools (including secondary special schools), colleges of further education, primary schools and work-based learning providers. Each set of criteria has been assembled with the help of staff from these different types of organisation to ensure that they are achievable, accurate and measurable. All criteria ensure organisations are meeting the DfE statutory guidance (March 2015).
What support is available?
This will vary from area to area and organisations seeking the Award are encouraged to check the level of support available from the licensee. This will normally include support locally through visits by Investors in Careers project managers to undertake health checks and to offer guidance of a general nature. Where additional consultancy is requested a number of organisations are able to offer this. At all times check with the licence holder what is included in the cost of the award and additional charges.
When will an organisation receive the external assessor's report?
It is normally expected that external assessor reports will be completed within ten working days and sent to the licensee for approval. Once the licensee and CSW have agreed the report the organisation will be sent a copy with their confirmation letter and certificate.
Should the head teacher/principal be interviewed as part of the assessment process?
Given that a whole organisation approach is generally considered to be the one that works best, every effort should be made to speak with the head of the organisation. If however the assessor feels they can make a sufficiently robust judgment about the organisation, then an interview with a deputy or equivalent may suffice. If access to staff at that level proves difficult, this may give rise to concerns about the true extent of commitment to the Award and its values. If an assessor feels that an organisation is unlikely to meet the standard for the foreseeable future, this should be communicated directly to the head/principal.