Vocational courses to be dropped from school and college league tables

Mar 8, 2013 by

Only a few hundred of 4,000 qualifications offered to students aged 16 to 19 will be included in tables under government plans

Thousands of vocational courses that lead to students “working hard but getting nowhere” – possibly nine in 10 of the total – are to be dropped from school and college league tables in England under plans outlined by the government.

Only a few hundred of nearly 4,000 qualifications now offered to 16-to-19-year-olds would merit inclusion in the tables, which remain an important yardstick by which many parents and ministers judge education performance.

Michael Gove, the education secretary, has already stripped most GCSE-equivalent vocational courses from school tables and now plans to wield the axe for those offered to over-16s as the school leaving age rises to 18.

Young people will still be able to take courses accredited by the exam regulator Ofqual, but schools have already reported that the changes in place for under-16s have led to big cuts in vocational courses for that age group.

The measures follow a review of vocational education by Prof Alison Wolf, of King’s College London, published in 2011. She complained that many vocational courses did not retain a core of academic maths and English skills along with proper workplace experience. She said at least 350,000 young people in any 16-to-19 cohort were poorly served by the current system, which was failing to promote them into stable, paid employment or higher education or training.

Claiming the changes would set a new “quality bar”, Matthew Hancock, the skills minister, said: “Every student will have to study a high-quality qualification of substantial size if their college or school sixth form is to get credit in the league tables. Secondly, it will be clear which qualifications will progress young people into skilled occupations and which are more general in nature.

“At the moment, too many students are spending time working hard but getting nowhere.”

This was not their fault, said Hancock. “The vocational courses they are taking have limited value in the jobs market. But because they count equally in the performance tables, they appear to have the same value. This is not true.”

Wolf said: “Those aged 16 to 19 need to study qualifications that are suited to their age group and which improve their prospects. The current system does not identify these clearly. The proposed changes will help increase the status and attraction of vocational education by identifying those qualifications which are demanding, relevant and demonstrably valuable in a young person’s future life.”

The Department for Education said new construction and engineering qualifications equivalent to GCSEs were already under development for 14-to-16-year-olds.

via Vocational courses to be dropped from school and college league tables | Education | guardian.co.uk.

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