From education to employment

New Means for Curriculum Formulation for Post 16 Take Up Required

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published research today that finds that schools and colleges should design a new curriculum that keeps teenagers in training and education.

As regular visitors to FE News will have read in earlier articles, the UK is currently in a comparatively poor position in post ““ 16 education participation, with only 75% of 16 ““ 18 year olds remaining in education. This is lower than most of our major competitors, including France, Germany and the United States of America. The average, according to data from the OECD, was 82%.

The report recommends that individual colleges and schools should have more freedom in formulating their own curriculum. This, it continues, would be validated by awarding bodies within a framework regulated by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), to ensure they are nationally recognised. The author finds that the QCA should limit its role to one of regulation, and should not be involved in developing new qualifications.

Level 3 and EMA to Expand?

One of the findings of the research is that free tuition should be extended up to Level 3 (which is the level equivalent to A-levels). The report recommends that this be extended beyond the current cut off of 19, initially to the age of 21 and then up to the age of 25 as resources allow. The report believes that this would encourage young adults to return to education if for any reason they dropped out if earlier on.

The research, compiled by Simone Delorenzi, also recommends that grants be altered, catering to students from lower income households up to the age of 25 by merging the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) with the Adult Learning Grant. The EMA has been cited as encouraging more young people to remain in education, and this proposal seems to indicate that this form of support would be necessary for a greater retention rate.

The funding gap between schools and FE colleges comes under the report’s microscope and it suggests that this should be attacked at the earliest possible time in order to guarantee future succcess. It also suggests that attention be paid to the establishment of school sixth forms, saying that they should not simply be established for the sake of having them. It calls for new sixth forms to be established only when they are able to offer a wide enough range of options for young learners in the lower half of the attainment range.

The Author

The author spoke of the need for schools and colleges to be allowed to formulate the best possible curriculum, saying: “The Government is right to see curriculum reform as key to improving participation. But it should allow schools and colleges to come up with their own courses, adapting them to their students, communities and local jobs.

“Those in the lower half of the attainment range, with modest or poor GCSE results at 16, do not value staying on because they do not see it as a route to better employment. Because they tend to come disproportionately from disadvantaged backgrounds, early leavers are a striking reminder of persistent inequalities in our education system.”

Jethro Marsh

Welcome the IPPR findings in the FE Blog

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