US-style graduation a 'stupid idea'

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
TONY Blair's plans for a US-style school graduation ceremony have not impressed the pupils it was designed to encourage.

Boys from excluded groups were the most likely to see it as "a stupid or pointless idea", the largest-ever consultation of young people by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority found.

Others felt a ceremony "would be embarrassing". Some simply dismissed the idea, announced last July, as "too American".

However, young people welcomed the idea of a new certificate which recognised their achievements and was not connected to academic qualifications.

Disaffected teenagers who had left school with no qualifications, young offenders and those with troubled family backgrounds said that a new certificate could give them the chance to start again.

"Graduation certificates" would probably list work experience and voluntary activities, as well as artistic and sporting ahievements.

Mr Blair proposed the certificate to encourage a "lost generation" of disaffected teenagers to stay on at school, and give employers and universities a clearer picture of their abilities.

Since then, Education Secretary David Blunkett has asked his curriculum advisers to investigate whether an A-level certificate would motivate sixth-formers to extend their studies.

The QCA received more than 1,600 responses from individuals and 2,500 from organisations to a questionnaire. A further 418 teenagers and more than 400 teachers, youth workers, parents and employers were also interviewed.

Respondents recommended there should be no age limit on the certificate and that it should be available from below GCSE standard up to A- level or equivalent.

The report 'Rewarding Achievement: Proposals for a Graduation Certification' is available on www.qca.org.uk

Letters, 19


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