According to a survey released today by Skillfast-UK, the Sector Skills Council for fashion and textiles, the vast majority of parents are wholeheartedly in favour of schools teaching vocational subjects.
The poll of 3,000 parents found 90 per cent of them agreed schools should teach vocational and practical courses, as well as academic subjects like GCSEs. Some 83 per cent of them said teachers should have more contact with industry and business, and 78 per cent believed schools do not adequately equip young people for the world of work.
Linda Florance, chief executive of Skillfast-UK, said: "As A-level results are released, we will no doubt be hearing once again that high grades are too easy to achieve, and so-called "soft" vocational subjects have no place in our education system. Education should be challenging – but academic subjects are not the only valid challenge.
"As our poll clearly shows, parents are in favour of schools teaching vocational subjects as a way of preparing young people for life after school, and we hear the same message from the business community. As an economy, we need entrepreneurs and skilled practitioners, as well as academics. Our education system should value both."
The findings follow an announcement from the Conservatives this week to remove some vocational subjects from school league-table rankings, while giving more league-table points for "hard" academic subjects, such as maths and physics.
Skillfast-UK warns these proposals would mean that "schools are effectively discouraged from teaching subjects such as Design and Technology, Business Studies and the new 14-19 Diplomas".
Ms Florance added: "As a Sector Skills Council, we worked alongside employers to develop the syllabus for the new Diploma in Creative & Media, which began in schools last year, and the Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design, which starts in schools this autumn. The whole idea of these Diplomas is that they blend academic and vocational learning, so that young people gain the skills that employers really value.
"Now, just when we are on the brink of achieving a breakthrough in the way we prepare young people for the future, we have politicians casting doubt on the whole value of vocational education. It does not make sense."
Skillfast-UK is encouraging teachers to sign up to their online petition to show support for the teaching of vocational courses. To take part, visit: www.skillfast-uk.org/learning/leaguetable
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