Today (Thursday 15 August), on A Level results day, the Sutton Trust has published its annual polling of 11-16-year olds on their university aspirations. It reveals that overwhelmingly young people think that knowing the right people and being confident are more important for getting on in life than going to university.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “A broad curriculum that develops character and skills alongside the academic core is essential.
“The future productivity and success of the UK in a post-Brexit world depends on the success of the young people who are getting their qualifications this week. But it doesn’t just depend on the grades they get, it depends on the kind of people they are.
“They will be the ones who take and create the jobs of the future which require a breadth of skills and not necessarily a narrow band of academic study. Of course, A Levels are important, but qualifications are only part of the picture when judging a student’s success.
“A core group of rigorous subjects is important, but we need to make sure there is a wider variety and choice beyond them. Young people are individuals and the same choices will not work for all. They need a wide variety of skills and experiences to succeed.
“Sadly, cuts to school funding are making it harder for schools and colleges to maintain this broad offer. Sixth form funding has fallen sharply since 2010 whilst government expectation that students follow a more academic core of subjects has risen.
“Currently schools are compelled to focus on test and exam results to prove their effectiveness. A school which puts students’ needs ahead of data could find itself near the bottom of a league table. School leaders should not have to be brave to do what is right for their students.”
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