From education to employment

Students given bigger say in 14-19 reforms

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, has announced plans to take forward the Government’s 14-19 agenda. The new measures will see local consortia having to take the views of young people in their area into account when diplomas are being planned and delivered.

Mr Balls said: "Young people are savvier than they are sometimes given credit for and have the ideas and energy we need to ensure the great changes we make are relevant, inspiring and demanding enough.

"In fast-changing times we need to give the next generation the power to shape their education and training because they have a vested interest in their success. As a country we can’t afford to let anything hold them back.

"Young people are often at the cutting edge when it comes to the latest music, gadgets and fashions – already evidence at local level shows they’ve got great ideas and lots of enthusiasm for their education and I want to make sure we use it.

"Every employer knows that the most enthusiastic and motivated workers often get the best results because they really care and I want the same ambitious spirit in our new education system with lessons that are loved rather than endured by the iPod generation.

"There are some good examples already of local partnerships getting young people on board in designing websites with information that appeal to them, such as Newham’s ‘Sussed’ or Salford’s ‘Where2nxt’. Designed by young people or featuring their own views, these contemporary and fast-moving sites appeal to teenagers and get used by them and that’s what it’s all about."

The Government aims to set up an initial pilot scheme to judge how effectively "student voice" can be used, which will include some of the areas involved in delivering these reforms from September 2010. It will include a stronger requirement for Diploma consortia to show how they will take their views on board, and will then be implemented across the country.

A national 14-19 learner panel will also be set up by Spring 2009, in an attempt to give young people a key role in feeding in views which will shape national policy.

Jim Knight, Minister for Schools and Learners, said: "I want us to win the marathon, not get tripped up in a foolhardy sprint – we are focussing on quality not quantity. You don’t make the momentous changes to opportunities for 14-to-19 year olds we want to achieve overnight but we are making good progress, as last month’s positive Ofsted report confirmed. Ofsted inspectors said our new strategies were already raising achievement, increasing participation and keeping learners in education and training – good news since it is such early days."

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