A system that helps all children receive a solid grounding in the basics, while drawing on different talents and interests, is the real challenge for education, NAHT said today.
Commenting on a ministerial statement from Education Secretary, Michael Gove, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “After the recent leaks on a backward-looking approach to O levels, at last attention returns to a real priority in our education system - the role of vocational study and the challenge of helping every young person get a good academic grounding alongside vocational skills.
“In an era of rapid change, the enduring basics of English, Maths and Science are perhaps the most vocational subjects of all. The furore over a return to O levels did nothing to ensure they were an entitlement for all, and the government's overall approach to vocational study remains incoherent.
“Everyone needs English and maths, but forcing students to repeatedly re-sit exams they have failed is not the answer; something wasn't working for them in the previous course of study. Better by far to take advantage of the raising of the participation age to plan a range of courses that arrive at the same point using different timings and methods. One standard reached via multiple routes; rather than double standards with a single force-fitted approach.
“Some vocational qualifications can indeed be unhelpful; but try telling a doctor or engineer that all vocational study is worthless. At the same time as strengthening access to the academic core, we also need to differentiate between demanding and rigorous vocational programmes, given equal status, and those that don't help young people get good jobs. We need to recognise that relevance is important to many young people and some learn more by doing and building rather than just listening.”
Page Published: 03/07/2012