Iram is a seasoned career and university guidance leader with a wealth of experience in providing high-quality guidance and information to secondary education students. With a focus on inspiring and motivating students, she has successfully coordinated Oxbridge and Ivy League applications in international independent schools and has extensive experience in coordinating international university systems, embedding them into strategies, policies, and curriculums. Iram’s in-depth knowledge of the field has been further enhanced by her Higher Education Studies MA from UCL.
Preparing students for higher education and guiding them toward successful careers requires a comprehensive approach involving academic and pastoral staff. However, there exists a lack of consistent motivation among teachers in providing career and university information, advice, and guidance (IAG) to students. To address this issue, it is essential to explore the factors that hinder teacher motivation, understand individual motivations, and recognize how leadership can play a crucial role in boosting motivation. Many teachers enter the profession with a strong desire to make a difference but often leave within five years due to factors such as work-life balance challenges and a target-driven culture. Pressures to prioritize student attainment over personalized IAG contribute to this issue. By examining motivational theories and incorporating 21st Century skills into the curriculum, we can discover ways to foster teachers’ motivation in delivering effective IAG to students.
Encouraging academic and pastoral staff to provide quality IAG is of utmost importance as it ensures that students receive appropriate subject combinations and guidance on suitable university options based on their career aspirations. However, this task can be challenging as teachers are occupied with delivering high-quality education and achieving excellent outcomes, leaving IAG provision low on their priority list. To motivate teachers effectively, it is crucial to understand what drives them to deliver personalized IAG to each student.
To motivate teachers in providing IAG, it is essential to distinguish between information, advice, and guidance. While information should be factual and reliable, advice entails directing students to relevant sources, and guidance involves a more extended process of providing direction. In evaluating the quality of IAG in schools, Ofsted measures it against the Eight Gatsby benchmarks, and independent schools are evaluated against the Independent Schools Standards. Leadership plays a critical role in fostering teacher motivation. A strong senior leadership team that takes responsibility for managing staff workload can lead to effective teaching and improved student outcomes. Personal motivation is also crucial, as intrinsically motivated teachers go the extra mile in providing individualized guidance, whereas extrinsically motivated teachers may only complete the minimum required. Shifting the culture towards intrinsically motivated teachers is essential for enhancing the quality of IAG.
Teachers play a vital role in providing IAG to students but motivating them to do so remains a persistent challenge in the education sector. Research by Perryman & Calvert (2020) indicates that while teachers initially join the profession with a motivation to make a difference, many leave within five years due to workload, a target-driven culture, and inadequate support. Furthermore, teachers often feel a lack of personal autonomy in their practice. To enhance teacher motivation, it is crucial to equip them with the tools, capacity, and independence to fulfill the three essential psychological requirements for self-motivation: Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness. Additionally, attention should be given to older teachers who possess valuable “real-world” experience relevant to providing IAG. Intrinsic motivation is also critical in delivering quality IAG to students. Addressing the lower needs in Maslow’s hierarchy can enable teachers to reach self-actualization, leading to increased motivation in providing IAG. The Herzberg Two Factor Theory identifies motivators and hygiene factors as determinants of employees’ working attitudes and performance levels.
Analysis, Reflection, and Discussion
Teachers’ demotivation in providing IAG can be attributed to the target accountability culture in schools. To address this issue, it is essential to combine IAG with the curriculum seamlessly. The inconsistency in teachers’ motivation can be better understood through the lens of Self-Determination Theory (SDT). Intrinsically motivated teachers are driven to deliver IAG, while extrinsically motivated teachers perceive IAG as someone else’s responsibility. To enhance IAG quality, SDT’s three categories—Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness—should be addressed. Teachers need to know where to seek information, collaborate as a team to provide guidance, and establish personal connections with students to be effective, although time constraints may pose challenges. Education policies that create pressure on teachers can diminish their capacity to deliver quality IAG. Schools must recognize the significance of IAG provision and foster a supportive environment for teachers, including training, mentorship, and adequate resources.
To drive teachers to provide quality IAG, school leaders should focus on integrating IAG into the curriculum and creating a motivating atmosphere for teachers. Inviting universities to deliver lectures based on curriculum content can lead to follow-up IAG with students. This integration should not be seen as an additional service but rather an integral part of teaching practice. Leaders should also motivate older teachers by providing IT skills training and granting autonomy in delivering IAG within their departments or roles. Implementing government policies on careers guidance and the Gatsby benchmarks can be incorporated into schools’ teaching and learning strategies. Teachers should be supported with relevant and appropriately pitched continuous professional development (CPD) opportunities, including peer-to-peer CPD. To meet teachers’ lower-level needs and hygiene factors, dedicated time and space should be provided, and leadership responsibility can be assigned to oversee aspects of IAG, thereby addressing motivator factors and fostering a sense of achievement.
Additionally, integrating careers and university IAG into the curriculum is vital for ensuring student success. For example, linking algebra with its real-world applications, such as ranking search engines, can make it more accessible to students. It is essential to make 21st Century skills a compulsory requirement in the curriculum. Leaders must motivate and support teachers to provide high-quality IAG to ensure student achievement.
Motivating teachers to provide career and university information, advice, and guidance to students is a complex task that requires a multi-faceted approach. By understanding the factors influencing teacher motivation, addressing individual motivations, and providing effective leadership, schools can create an environment where teachers are empowered to deliver personalized IAG to students. Integrating IAG into the curriculum and emphasizing 21st Century skills will not only enhance students’ career prospects but also contribute to the overall success of the education system. With the collective efforts of educators, school leaders, and policymakers, we can empower teachers to play a significant role in shaping students’ future careers and fostering a well-rounded society.
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