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

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