‘I didn’t know how chaotic the system had become’

Lord Sainsbury, architect of the post-16 skills revolution, talks about slashing qualifications and why college courses and apprenticeships are both vital routes

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The Post-16 Skills Plan, published in July, set out what the government described as the “most significant transformation of post-16 education since A levels were introduced some 70 years ago”. As a result, 16-year-olds will eventually be required to make a choice between an “academic” or “technical” education – and, within the latter, opt for one of 15 routes based on major employment sectors (see box, below).

The man who chaired the independent panel behind the plans was Lord Sainsbury. Having held the roles of minister for science and innovation and chair of Sainsbury’s, his connections in ...

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