Don't scorn vocational alternative

27th January 2006 at 00:00
Your leader ("Why league tables fail the children", TES, January 13, about the story, "League tables push pupils to easy options") was so disappointing, if predictable.

Yes, replacement of general national vocational qualifications is necessary and they should not equate to four GCSEs in league tables. Yes, much more needs to be done to introduce high-quality, equally-valued vocational options. But let's recognise that the academic-subject-based national curriculum is not relevant, valued or motivating for at least a third of pupils aged 14-16. Let's also recognise that the "suitably qualified subject teachers" you believe pupils are entitled to applies as much to carpenters, mechanics and chefs as it does to historians and linguists. How can such qualified staff be appointed when there is no funded initial training for teachers of vocational subjects?

The idea that everyone has a right to A-levels and an (academic) degree continues to distort policy and practice, leaving many young people disillusioned, and further education colleges left to re-motivate and provide second chances. English and maths as the core of the 14-16 curriculum plus a true, quality range of vocational and academic options is the only logical way forward.

Rick Dearing Principalchief executive Cambridge Regional college Cambridge

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