Letters Extra: Mixing the vocational and the academic

28th February 2003 at 00:00

Caroline St John-Brooks' ideas (TES, 14.02.03, p23) about the modularized 14-18 curriculum are fine as far as they go, but she seems unaware that making a distinction between the `academic'and the `vocational' may undermine her case.

The perception of the former as superior to the latter is such an essential part of the hierarchical structure of the British education system and indeed of the British class structure in general that a bit of tinkering of the kind she suggests is unlikely to make much difference. However, I suppose we have to start somewhere!

There is a more radical possibility which I think would eventually lead to the deconstruction of this pernicious dichotomy. In the first place a compulsory `vocational' element should be included in the common curriculum post-14, so that all pupils would have to do a vocational course not just those who were disaffected or not considered able enough for `academic' courses.nbsp;

Second, all courses should be made both `academic'and `vocational'. For examplenbsp;English and Maths would always include content that was relevant to everyday life, and Work Experience would always contain a critical component which developed pupils' awareness of general issues relating to work, such as employeremployee relations andnbsp;environmental concerns.

And of course, in addition to there being no public examinations at 16, there would need to be a unified qualification at 18.
Professor John Quicke

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today