Changes must be a challenge

Tes Editorial

Sir Ron's interim report maps out how academic and vocational paths could be developed for 16 to 19-year-olds. Views expressed during consultation.

"The qualifications framework must cover the whole ability range and stretch the most able, but also encourage lower-attainers, enabling young people to learn at a pace suitable to their abilities and aptitudes. It must be able to motivate all young people, including the disaffected.

"It should lead to a reduction in the present wastage rate. What is achieved, for example, through completed units of a course by students and apprentices who do not finish the whole course, should be recorded and recognised, with no sacrifice of standards. Young people need well-informed and impartial advice and guidance on careers and the options available to them.

"Though the GNVQ is welcomed, many argue that assessment for the vocational qualifications needs to be much less time-consuming. This should not, however, reduce the present standards of rigour. The present reviews of aspects of the GNVQ and of the top 100 NVQs are welcomed.

"The core skills of communication, number and competence in the use of information technology should be part of all 16-19 education and training. Breadth as well as depth is a valuable part of education and training.

"Better understanding of, and public support for, vocational pathways needs to be established. Decisions on the choice of qualifications should be based on a view of which would be most effective in developing the individual. It is also in the national interest that some of the most able young people should follow a vocational pathway.

"There should be greater opportunity to combine vocational and A-level courses and to gain credit for relevant achievement in one pathway when a transfer is made to pursue a similar subject area in another pathway. Some argue for integration of the three pathways.

"Adequate lead time is needed for developing ways forward in detail, and for schools, employers and other providers to prepare for any changes flowing from this review.

"Consideration should be given to the decline in the proportion of students concentrating on the sciences, engineering and maths.

"To secure maximum value for money, funding for schools and colleges should be reviewed, to promote collaboration in the provision of courses where that is cost-effective."

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