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Maximise potential

Sir Ron Dearing's review runs to 700 pages, including five research reports. On these and the following two pages The TES reprints edited highlights of a seminal set of recommendations for the future of 16-19 education

The National Record of Achievement (NRA) was introduced in 1991 as an important vehicle for recording achievement and planning future learning. It has strong advocates in schools and colleges but commitment varies. Many small and medium-sized firms have little knowledge of it. Students often have insufficient understanding of how to use it effectively for a job application or an interview.

It has the potential to be an important instrument through which young people develop the practice of managing and taking responsibility for their learning.

The NRA needs to be restructured and relaunched to achieve these purposes. Employer support is essential to provide the motivation for the associated work in schools and colleges.

The NRA should have a major role in developing skills in planning and managing learning through a self-contained section which guides the learner through the process.

In colleges, the use of "learning agreements", through which students set their own targets, will support the development of these skills and contribute directly to the restructured NRA.

During 16-19 education and training, consideration should be given to assessing and certificating young people's skills in planning and managing their own learning. This could be done through the NCVQ's unit, "improving own learning and performance". Although formal assessment of these skills should be optional, recognition of the award of the NCVQ unit should be given in the proposed new profile and tariff of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

The NRA should be introduced to pupils when judgments are being made about the last two years of statutory schooling, say at 13.5 years. The present quality folder provided by the Government should be available to all pupils at that age.

Use of the NRA throughout lifetime learning should be strongly encouraged and supported by the Government, local education authorities, employers, TECs, schools, colleges, universities and other institutions.

All students should receive guidance from schools and colleges on using the NRA in applying for a university place or a job.

Consideration should also be given to making the NRA processes of recording achievement and action planning part of the schools' and colleges' inspection frameworks.

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