CAREERS advice in Wales’ secondary schools is often out-of-date and should be improved – but schools should plan for possible funding cuts for external help, an Estyn report has warned.

The report is the first of two looking into the quality, consistency and impartiality of pupil support services in Wales’ secondary schools, published by the inspectorate Estyn and commissioned by Welsh government.

Six Gwent schools – Monmouth High School, Lewis School Pengam, St Cenydd, Chepstow High School, St Joseph’s RC High School and Caerleon Comprehensive – were randomly selected to be visited by Estyn for the survey.

Caerleon’s best practice was outlined in one of three case studies in the report.

Following the Learning and Skills (Wales) Measure in 2009, Welsh pupils are meant to have access to a learning coach, personal support and impartial careers advice.

Estyn’s report said while the number of exclusions, pupil outcomes and attendance have improved since then, around half of pupils still do not get grades A* to C in their English, Welsh first language or maths GCSEs.

The provision of careers advice is the weakest area, and only a minority of schools offer all pupils the opportunity to discuss their career aspirations, said the report.

“Careers advice and guidance are not coordinated well enough in a majority of schools,” the report states, adding that most advice for pupils and parents is “generic” and “not up-to-date.”

“In a majority of schools, information provided is not consistently accurate or appropriate.”

A Welsh government spokesman said they are already taking relevant action on careers advice and wrote to all schools in November to outline the changes to the Careers Wales remit and implications for schools.

Estyn recommended that schools focus support services on improving pupils’ grades in GCSE English or Welsh first language and maths; improve the scope and quality of careers advice and guidance; make sure all pupils have regular discussions with support staff, especially in Year 9 and Year 11; and provide all staff involved in giving advice and guidance with regular and up-to-date training.

Estyn’s second report, looking at colleges and work-based learning, is due to be published next year.