From education to employment

Research Indicates UK is Falling Behind

A leading independent think tank has called for an end to the A-level because one in every four 16-18 year olds in the UK is not doing any form of education or training.

The Institute for Public Policy Research has today issued a release claiming that while this week’s A-level pass rate will focus on those students performing well in Britain’s post-compulsory education system, it will not recognise the stagnant post-16 staying on percentage.

Compared with Germany, where only one in ten teenagers are not involved in vocational or academic study, the IPPR argue for curriculum reform; that the current crop of A-levels be phased out following a review in 2008, replaced with a “British Baccalaureate”. This would include a menu of academic and vocational elements and would build on innovations in curriculum provision that have taken place at local level in recent years.

Associate Director for the IPPR, Richard Brooks, commented: “Practically all young people in the UK should now be in education or training until they are 18 or 19 years old. Yet not only are too many still missing out, but current policies dont seem to be increasing the numbers of those who stay on in learning until the end of their teenage years”.

The IPPR recommend closing the funding gap between schools and colleges for young people, following guidelines set out by the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA), and ending the presumption in favour of new school sixth forms. There would be an exception for this however, if it can be shown that the new sixth forms are able to offer a wide range of options for those in the lower half of the attainment range.

However, the IPPR have been calling for a unified diploma for over fifteen years, when a report was published in 1990 co-written by David Miliband. And further to the recommendations of former Chief Inspector of Schools, Mike Tomlinson, to introduce a diploma to replace the GCSE and A-level, the government has finally heeded the call and is committed to a review in 2008.

Mr Brooks noted: “The new 14-19 diplomas will not flourish alongside an un-reformed system of A-levels and it is time for a more radical approach”.

Vijay Pattni.

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