National targets reflect national commitment

5th December 1997 at 00:00
Your feature "Learning for life" (TES, November 21) helpfully analyses progress towards two of Britain's National Targets for Education and Training for young people: that 85 per cent of 19-year-olds should, by December 2000, have five higher-grade GCSEs or equivalent, and that 60 per cent of 21-year-olds should have two A-levels or equivalent.

Those targets were intended to be challenging, and they are, but not unrealistically so. The National Foundation for Educational Research concluded earlier this year that Britain could reach both targets by 2000 and that there was no case for relaxing either of them. The right action must of course be taken to raise attainment levels further. The latest statistics show solid progress: by spring 1997 we were at 71.3 per cent and 48.8 per cent respectively, up from 68.4 per cent and 44.3 per cent in one year.

In its 1997 annual report "Skills for 2000", the National Advisory Council for Education and Training Targets recommended a further review of all national targets. We did so partly because Britain will probably now need longer to hit two of the other targets. But we were also conscious that the Government is committed to raising attainment in education and training.

We must ensure that Britain's national targets reflect fully the extent of that commitment. Following our recommendation, the Government immediately announced that it would indeed consult on what national targets there should be in future. We welcome that and will be working closely with the Government during the consultation.

PHILIP CHORLEY

Director National Advisory Council for Education and Training Targets London WC1

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