From education to employment

Former education secretary states current reforms in technical education ‘living miles in the past’ #SkillsWorld

Charles Clarke

In an exclusive interview with #SkillsWorld the podcast, Charles Clarke, former secretary of state for education tells Tom Bewick about his time as a cabinet minister in Tony Blair’s government, and reveals where the 50 per cent HE participation target really came from.

Speaking about the government’s plans for T-Levels, Mr Clarke said:

“I do support some aspects of T-Levels. I think the work experience that they think should be a part of the T-Level is a valuable thing, but it should be part of the A-Level as well. The association of work and vocational with so-called lower academic skills is extremely damaging and the T-Level kind of nails that in…

“The old concept of separate but equal qualifications will never succeed in this area. You have to develop an integrated form of qualifications, which was why Tomlinson was so important. T-levels are not integrated. It is said that they will have the same status of A-Levels. I don’t believe that will be the case, in any respect.”

Mr Clarke went onto to say that he didn’t agree with the government’s “binary choice” of 16-year-olds having to decide between A-Levels and T-Levels:

“The idea that you make a binary choice at the age of 16, which then determines things for the next forty or fifty years of your life, is simply living in the past.”

In a wide-ranging interview the former education secretary, he told #SkillsWorld about some of his regrets in office, including the failure to implement in full, Mike Tomlinson’s 14-19 Review of qualifications.

Discussing the importance of politicians cracking The Big Issues Clarke, editor of The Too Difficult Box’, said that if he was in office today he would work much harder to achieve cross-party consensus in bringing about the big changes to education policy that were required, not least in those policy areas that typically take longer than the typical five-year political cycle to implement.

Subscribe to the #SkillsWorld podcast series or visit the #SkillsWorld Newsroom on FE News to keep up to date with Tom’s latest quest into the Skills World.

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