Call for report cards to detail progress throughout a pupil's schooling

31st July 2009 at 01:00
Social mobility paper backs extra funding and education credits to ensure disadvantaged children access top jobs

The government should introduce "destination indicators" and information to assess the progress pupils make between "starting school, leaving school and their destination after school", according to a report last week on social mobility which was commissioned by the Prime Minister.

It focused on the fact that more than half of all pupils in England left school at 16 without gaining five good GCSEs, including English and maths.

The suggested tracking of pupils' progress, intended to put pressure on schools to help improve social mobility, would be recorded on the new school report cards due to be introduced south of the border.

The cross-party report, commissioned by Gordon Brown and chaired by former Cabinet member Alan Milburn, listed 88 recommendations to be considered by the Government, including calls for Ofsted to inspect schools' extra- curricular provision and a radical overhaul of work experience in schools.

The report backed a pupil premium - extra funding for deprived children - and education credits, whereby parents in areas where schools "consistently underachieve" would receive 150 per cent of the cost of the child's schooling to be spent in a state school of their choice.

According to the paper, Unleashing Aspiration, up to 7 million more professionals are likely to be needed in Britain by 2020, but a lack of focus on careers in schools means professional jobs are the preserve of the upper-middle classes.

Under the paper's proposals, the Connexions careers service in England, which has been criticised by some teachers for ignoring higher-achieving young people, would be replaced by a more "professional" careers service, which would start at primary level.

Teachers' unions welcomed the aims of the report, but were critical of many of the proposals.

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: "There are far better ways of tracking and identifying students' progress into adult life than adding yet another detail to the already overloaded school report card."

Chris Keates, of the NASUWT, said that education credits would hamper fairer access for schoolchildren. She said: "The proposal to establish a new form of redress for parents to have a 150 per cent financial credit to move their child to a better school must be a non-starter for anyone committed to state education."

Many of the recommendations are ideas that the Conservatives are already suggesting as part of their education policy for England.

The Government said it welcomed the report, with Pat McFadden, minister for business and skills, saying the work would "shape our future thinking". He continued: "We share the aim of the report's authors - to enhance the life chances of every young person regardless of their background or income."

The Prime Minister's spokesman said the report would be "given a fair wind" within Whitehall.

Unleashing Aspiration: www.cabinetoffice.gov.ukstrategywork_areasaccessprofessions.aspx.

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