Meet the new rift, or is it the old one?

30th September 2005 at 01:00
If one thing has been on the educational agenda for as long as the link between educational disadvantage and poverty, it is the link between vocational and academic education. Despite years of rhetoric about parity of esteem, we are still a considerable way from achieving it. The HMIE report published this week (page 5) confirms vocational courses are still treated as the preserve of the less able pupils, and that the academically inclined are not steered in their direction.

This rift also lives on in universities, where students taking medical, legal or architectural courses are not seen as following a vocational path.

But it is an attitude that must change if the Executive is to realise its ambitious plans to forge stronger school-college links, devising what will in effect be an alternative curriculum for some 14 to 16-year-olds. The worst outcome would a recreation of the old juniorsenior secondary divide.

That can hardly be the intention of ministers. Or is it?

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