From the Forums

11th November 2011 at 00:00

Are apprenticeships a cause for pride, too?

New shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg says parents should be as proud of their children for securing a top apprenticeship as for winning a place at university. But it's a rebranding exercise for secondary moderns - to take place at 14. The new sec mods will be dull institutions, with lamentably dull vocational courses.


I would be prouder of a child with little academic interest who completed an apprenticeship than I would of a child who found school easy and half-heartedly took an expensive and pointless degree just because hisher friends did. But I dare say snobbery will win the day.


It's better than "My boy is in HMP Doncaster", I suppose.


If you are providing something different for those not of an academic bent, don't screw it over and try to make it look "worthy" by flinging academic content at it. That's one of the things they did with the technology GCSEs. Cookery was popular and non-academic. A good pass was possible even if you weren't likely to get one anywhere else except PE. Food tech was too hard for kids who liked cooking, and had too little actual cooking in it.


Every single time they've tried to design vocational courses, some wonks down the DfE have insisted they must have "academic rigour" and so they've been turned into bog-standard courses with too much writing, too little practicalvocational content - and they've still been derided as crap and pointless.


"Academic" kids need academic courses. The "non-academic" ones usually cannot read and write very well, so they need remedial classes. Taught at a pace they can cope with using methods appropriate for them, possibly in small groups and definitely in an academically homogenous one. When they are 16-17 and finally able to read and write, do basic arithmetic and know that Churchill wasn't originally a dog, they can start learning a trade.


Son number 1: A-levels, then four years at uni. Now working in a job that does not require a degree and is paying off a #163;16k student debt. Son number 2 (seven years younger): left school at 16, got modern apprenticeship. Earning #163;2K less than his big brother but still working his way up. No debts. I'm proud of them both.


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