Ministers relaunch pupils' portfolio

The Government is remarketing its failed National Record of Achievement as a 'tool for lifetime learning'.

The National Record of Achievement, introduced six years ago as a "tool for lifetime learning", is to be renamed and relaunched in September after failing to catch on among many employers or in further and higher education.

Ministers say the new record, likely to be called Progress File or ProFile for short, will be more flexible and informal than the current embossed hardback document.

The shake-up, recommended by Sir Ron Dearing in his review of 14-19 qualifications last year, will include a publicity campaign to improve take-up and an injection of Pounds 900,000 of government money to train teachers and careers advisers in its use.

The Progress File will be similar to the current NRA, with sections on qualifications and employment history and space for recording other interests and achievements.

But it will be more like a looseleaf folder, intended as a practical source of information rather than a prestige document to be presented at interview. It will include advice on drawing up CVs and job applications.

The new document will mark the latest stage in the development of records of achievement dating back to the Newsam Report in 1963. Several initiatives were launched in the 1970s and 1980s aimed at giving all pupils the chance to leave school with a record of their achievements, including sports prizes, drama and music activities, charity work and hobbies as well as exam results.

The various schemes were drawn together with the government launch in 1991 of the NRA run by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications.

The new version of the record of achievement is now being designed and will be phased in from September. All schools should be using it by September next year.

The review reflects concern that although the current system is used by many schools - as many as 90 per cent of pupils are estimated to leave with an NRA - it has largely failed in its original purpose of being widely used as a long-term resource for developing learning, training and career opportunities.

Members of the review committee, headed by Lloyds TSB deputy chairman Sir Nicholas Goodison, believed it is too often presented at a school-leaver's first job interview and then forgotten.

They were also concerned that many employers have never heard of the NRA. Even those who recognise it when presented with one by a school-leaver often then discard it because it does not fit into their own staff development schemes.

Only half the employers questioned in a survey by the Institute for Employment Studies at Sussex University for the review had heard of the NRA and only one in three claimed to be familiar with it.

Education minister James Paice said the new Progress File would be available to all children from the age of 14, a year earlier than is usually the case now.

The new approach will be a simple-to-use system for people from secondary school onwards, he said, providing information for applications for jobs, training, college or university places for job applications, interviews and appraisals.

The report by the review group, published this week, says the Progress File should help young people to record all personal achievements, set targets, plan their future development and seek advice.

It should include a detachable section to be used to present information to employers. It should also have a section for storing information on tape or computer disk as well as certificates of qualifications.

The Government will launch a marketing campaign later this year to publicise the new system.

Review committee chairman Sir Nicholas Goodison said: "We found very wide consensus that the record of achievement is a valuable tool, but the current format is very cumbersome and we wanted something more user-friendly.

"I hope the new Progress File will become part of the routine in schools and will be taken up enthusiastically by employers and by colleges and universities."

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