Schools should continue to collect information on what their students are doing for three years after they have left in a bid to tackle youth unemployment, Labour’s education spokesman said today.
Tristram Hunt, shadow education secretary, said the transition from school to work was the policy area where the current government had most “miserably failed” the country’s young people and he called for more “rigorous” destination data.
Collecting information on students for three years is likely to provide a significant challenge for schools, however, which will face difficulty keeping tabs on pupils several years after leaving.
Speaking at a CBI education conference in London this morning, Mr Hunt said schools should go further in collecting information on school-leavers than the one year currently required, as he predicted parents would begin demanding more information from their children’s schools.
“There is a strong case to be made for extending destination measures, so that schools take on responsibility for collecting data on their former pupils for up to three years after they have ‘graduated’,” he said.
“Long-term youth unemployment has left deep cultural scars upon our national psyche and I think it is highly likely that parents will soon begin to drive demand for information about how schools are making sure their children are university-ready, career-ready, life-ready."
And he added: “So I would encourage all schools investing in their careers service infrastructure to give serious thought about collecting and publishing far more rigorous destinations data than the government is currently demanding.”
His announcement was greeted with a guarded welcome from teachers on Twitter who raised concerns that it would merely add yet more bureaucracy for schools.
Responding to the decision, @TheMorganics tweeted: “What is the purpose? Schools aren't the sole influence on students' destinations & choices. More bureaucracy for them.”
Likewise, @SusanPopoola added: “Might not always be easy to obtain & track - requires relationship with leavers, but that relationship has own benefits.”
The call for more destination data came in a wide-ranging speech in which Mr Hunt committed his party to reversing the government’s decision to make work experience optional, and he called for greater links between schools and businesses.
“I know that in the past compulsory work experience was often little more than photocopying and making the tea, so yes we need to do more to raise quality and rigour,” he said.
“But for some young people the sheer fact of getting up, dressing smartly and attending a place of work at the same time every day can be an extremely rewarding and confidence-building first step.”