From education to employment

Sector congratulates learners on record results

FE learners across the UK have been celebrating record A-level results today.

According to statistics published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), the cumulative percentage of A-level grades A* -E increased by 0.2 per cent , from last year’s 97.6 per cent to 97.8 per cent.

There was also a rise in demand for the fields of sciences and mathematics. Mathematics increased by 7.4 per cent, and Biology, Chemistry and Physics saw increases of 7.2, 9.2 and 6.1 per cent, respectively.

Congratulating learners and their teachers, Lee Davies, IfL’s deputy chief executive, said: “Despite the fact that sixth-form and FE colleges receive lower funding per learner than school sixth forms, and have a much higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, they consistently achieve better A-level results than schools.

“The forthcoming academic year will be the last before the introduction of much higher university tuition fees, and in the scramble for university places at the lower fees, thousands of A-level students are abandoning the idea of a gap year. Several universities are not offering any clearing places at all, and it seems that between 150,000 and 200,000 applicants could miss out on places this year.

“I would urge students to consider seriously the option of continuing their education in a further education institution, where a wide range of vocational programmes and apprenticeships are offered – from engineering and construction to plumbing, landscape gardening, catering, information technology, mobile robotics and beauty therapy. Teachers and trainers in further education and skills are dual professionals, who have experience and expertise in their specialist subject, as well as in delivering high-quality teaching and learning.

“Also, many of those receiving their A-level and diploma results today may not be aware of the extent to which it is possible to take degree courses in further education. Around 90 per cent of general FE colleges offer higher education courses, teaching one in eight or so of the undergraduate population and contributing more than a third of entrants to higher education. They play a central role in increasing and widening participation in higher education.

“The benefits of choosing this route are multifold – lower tuition fees; possibly the option of studying near home and thereby saving on accommodation costs; courses that are tailored to employers’ needs; flexible delivery; excellent facilities and high-quality teaching.”

Neil Bentley, deputy director-general of CBI, also congratulated students and teachers for their hard work, but pointed out that more teenagers need to be equipped with scientific knowledge.

“We’re encouraged that more people have heeded the call from businesses to study A-Level maths and science, but overall numbers are still far too low and must increase further to meet employer demand,” said Bentley.

“There is already a skills gap emerging in this area with over 40% of companies saying they are having difficulty recruiting people with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.”

Apostolos Kostoulas

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