Opening minds to life skills

9th April 2004 at 01:00
Your piece on employers' attitudes to A-level and GCSE skirted round a key point. It is hardly surprising that employers do not regard these examinations as providing evidence of the qualities they seek in recruits.

A-level and GCSE were never designed to assess these qualities nor are syllabuses designed to encourage their development. If such development does occur, it is largely as a by-product of subject teaching. The same can be said of many university degrees.

There may be a case for looking at the nature of the education provided.

But the answer is not to abandon the provision of qualifications for large numbers of young people.

Why not offer qualifications which encourage the development of competences needed for life as well as for work? This can be done without sacrificing coverage of subject content, as the RSA's Opening Minds curriculum project has successfully shown over the past three years.

Mike Tomlinson's interim report moves towards recognition of the growing disconnection between current academic "qualifications" and the world they are supposed to "qualify" young people to live in. This is a welcome first step but we need a bolder approach if employers and young people are to get the maximum benefit from everyone's investment in education.

Valerie Bayliss Director RSA Opening Minds Project 30 Muskoka Avenue, Sheffield

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