Vocational yearning

18th March 2005 at 00:00
As a lecturer who has taught business and management in an FE college for many years, I am appalled by the Government's decision to savage the implementation of the Tomlinson report.

Employers, universities, industries, educationists, students and, indeed, some parts of the Government itself, all agreed that the evolution proposed by the Tomlinson report could address our present national skills crisis.

Vocational education is not a second-class choice for those who have failed the "academic" route and A-levels, and whose only option is a low-paid and undemanding job. It is the development of employability skills such as communication, functional maths, and problem-solving and decision-making.

The students I teach on a GNVQ business course, equivalent to a GCSE course, have often come from school with poor GCSEs. They require a different sort of course to help them realise their potential and many of them go on to university to study accountancy, ICT, or business management, and then on into professional jobs.

What the Government has done in rejecting Tomlinson is to set us back to the "golden" age of tripartite education. This will not work in our more sophisticated global economy. There are not two kinds of student - those who are "academic" and those who are only fit for "vocational" education.

My students can be so much more, as they have shown year upon year, than the "factory fodder" that they may now be destined to become. If we fail to take on Tomlinson, we will fail the next generation.

Maureen O'Mara

Ex-president, NATFHE

Grantham college, Lincolnshire

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