BBC Careers Adviser Gets it All So Wonderfully Wrong

Andy Gardner October 2018

When my 11-year-old son told me that I had to watch the CBBC programme, Class Dismissed, because it had a Careers Adviser in it, I was straight onto I-Player.  Of course, it was all done for laughs, but it was so obviously the opposite to what a trained Careers Adviser would do, that they either had done their research and then turned it inside out, or it was just a figment of a scriptwriter’s imagination.  Also, I’m a strong believer that any worthwhile profession should be able to laugh at itself.

The episode, called Careers Day, started with the School Careers Adviser Miss Dropitt interviewing Billy and you can watch the interview here.

Below is a transcript, with my spoof Career Development interjections in italics:

Miss Dropitt: (To Camera) My Careers Adviser advised me to be a Careers Adviser and before that her Careers Adviser advised her to be a Careers Adviser, and before that her Careers Adviser advised her to be a Careers Adviser and before that her Careers Adviser advised her to be a Champion Jockey, but she didn’t listen to her and became a Careers Adviser anyway.

In 33 years as a Careers Adviser I think I may have influenced one Careers Adviser who came into Stratford Careers Office to become a Careers Adviser and he was a career changer not a school pupil. They are mostly women though!

Careers Interview starts:

Miss Dropitt: So, Billy want do you want to be when you leave school?

Not a good start (presuming Billy is Year 11, we now have RPA).  This question is not clear because he may not leave school at the end of year 11, and implies that he should know his chosen job, when of course he may not.  The start of the interview will normally involve an exploration of where Billy is at in his Career Development.

Billy: Well I like football, so a footballer.

Miss Dropitt: OK Billy if can just stop you there.  At the risk of sounding negative, becoming a professional footballer is incredibly difficult, and the chances of you being a success at it are basically zero, OK! (the OK said in a I’m shutting this down way)

There is no checking of what level he is currently playing at. Is he associated with a professional club or is he not even getting into the school team.  If he is with a club there is still a very high chance he will not make it as a pro, so a gentle suggestion to look at fall-back positions (not full-back!) might be appropriate if he agrees to this.

The use of the “OK” in this fashion is inappropriate for impartial Careers Guidance.

Billy: “Well I know it will be tough Miss, but it is my dream job”

A clear plea from Billy for Miss Dropitt to listen to him

Miss Dropitt: OK Billy, nobody ever got anywhere by following their dreams, you need to choose something more practical, maybe this leaflet will give you some ideas (passes him a leaflet with Simon Cowell on the front titled “Forget it Loser”).

No exploration of whether he is considering A Levels, BTECS, Apprenticeships, Traineeships etc, no drilling down to specific routes – sixth form subjects, types of apprenticeships.  If sixth form what about university, apprenticeships afterwards.  What about careers related to football, in the industry itself or the wider sports and leisure sector or even a PE Teacher?

Billy: What sort of job would you suggest then Miss?

Miss Dropitt: Something like, Careers Adviser! What’s great about this job is that you can fit in other jobs in between, speaking of which, my shift as a Lollypop Lady starts, would you mind covering for me here, it would be good work experience

Maybe he has other strengths that haven’t been mentioned or even he might want to explore jobs which actually exist in his local area.  There is however a real grain of truth in the Careers Advice profession being dumbed down and being done by untrained staff doing other jobs in schools.

Billy: I don’t know Miss…

Miss Droppitt: It’s easy, all you have to do is sit there and tell people that they can’t do what they want to do.  Got to go.  Being a Lollypop Lady requires a dedicated and diligent individual and until they find one of those, I’m doing it!

Now they are just being plain rude. 

If you keep watching they move onto enterprise education……..

Seeing a Careers Adviser at school is clearly part of British culture as it is something we can all relate to and is the funniest part of this programme.  With current levels of investment we may soon be saying “you never know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

Comments 15

    1. Post
  1. Wonderful, hilarious, but it also left me in despair. Has nothing changed in the public and media perception of what we do since the disinterested and directive careers officer in “Kes”?!!

    1. Post

      OMG Kes – made in 1969, well the Youth Employment Service could be very directive. I think I have a bit of gallows humour going on here. At least we are getting some attention. It may not be good, but at least it is something.

    1. Post
  2. Ha ha so bad it’s good! They used the Kes film in my training in the 80’s. On a positive note, I recently had some very positive feedback (after 30 years) when over a game of Italian Monopoly, the owner of a local language school recognised me as her former Careers Adviser.

    1. Post
  3. As a full time teaching, Head of Careers, School/Industry Links and Aimhigher Co-ordinator in a Secondary school for over 25 years, unfortunately, that lead in “what do you want to do” was the one question many Year 11 learners found very annoying.
    When I asked why this question was used as part of the introduction I was told it was part of their training!

    I do know that this does not happen today, as much, and working with so many careers advisers on their training in the past and today, I do know so many fantastic advice & guidance professionals.

    The video was very funny because it was in some instances so true, but much has changed and continues to change.

    Having recently discussed future options and sectors to do more research in as far as looking at where aptitudes, interests and personality might lead, out of 40 I saw in Year 11, there were a handful who presently knew that Medicine and Law (surprise, surprise) was for them and after discussing the much wider possibilities and different pathways, they said they would look further and agreed, they could then be more confident they had made informed decisions.
    Of course, finding some work experience or a work placement/internship and asking about possible Degree Apprenticeships was also of considerable interest – so looking forward to more becoming available in different sectors.

    1. Post
  4. Oh I love Class Dismissed-its one of the funniest programmes on tele!
    There are some very accurate depictions of subject teachers on there and is very tongue in cheek.
    This episode really did make me laugh and I know its tinged with the sadness of generalness of careers guidance, but the multi tasking and doing ‘other jobs’ around it, is also very true.
    My favourite careers adviser sketch has got to be Monty Python-
    If you’ve not seen it before- enjoy!

  5. I loved it but I felt sad. She had a lovely office, she had time to speak to students one on one. This is a parody of yester year but I wish it were now. 🙁

  6. Hi Andy,

    Excellent, well you were one of my mentors when I was a probationer back in 1991 at Camden so I got mentored and taught by the best. So proud of your achievements.

    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.