Posted on | December 10, 2013 | Comments Off
GCSE - has the Government blundered?
The largest discussion ever within the linked-in group Apprenticeships 4 England has centred on an issue raised in the last newsletter about GCSE vs Functional Skills in Apprenticeships.
With just short of 100 comments from 20 contributors with Roger Francis (CL Partners) and Marius Frank (SCiP5) leading the way, it makes interesting reading and it shows how much the sector believes in Functional Skills as the best way forward in vocational education.
It just shows what a big issue this one is, and with the ball still very much in play, if you have a view then take a few minutes and record it.
Posted on | November 26, 2013 | Comments Off
In this issue we come back to the issue of English and maths and how policy is developing. Whilst the short term is secure (GCSE or Functional Skills) there may be lots of changes planned for 2017 when the requirement for continuing study in English and maths will be “stepped up”.
We’ve also got news of an important new product from Guroo - KISS Assessment for Functional Skills is a simple and straightforward assessment that produces a full diagnostic for Functional Skills - and nothing else and is designed for those who just “want the diagnostic”. Finally, we have news of recorded and live webinars.
As always, we aim to send this newsletter out every two weeks, your comments and thoughts are always appreciated - let us know what you’d like us to cover in the newsletter by emailing the editor - firstname.lastname@example.org
GCSE, Bite Size or Functional Skills in 2017?
In the words of the late Clive Dunn “don’t panic”, as it will be four years before any changes are likely to come into place. Nevertheless, policy is being formed as we speak so it’s a timely chance to look at the options for English and maths, and indeed for vocational education as a whole.
We’ve seen over the last few weeks a definite shift in moving Apprenticeships “upmarket”. Research from EDGE and C&G suggests that employers agree with this view, the BBC report on the same subject was equally supportive.
Common to all these themes is the need to put more emphasis on English and maths. Last month, The Government indicated GCSE was their preferred “long term aim”, AELP rejected this saying GCSE wasn’t fit for purpose with limited assessment windows and supported Functional Skills. This week, we see support for “Stepping Stone or Progression” qualifications as being another route towards GCSE, not unreasonable as these “bite sized” qualifications are often described as “little bits of Functional Skills”.
So the outcome? None yet, but if you have a view, let us know and we’ll try to draw views together.
Simple, straightforward self-registered initial assessment and diagnostic from Guroo - now available from 95p
In direct response to customer demand, the Guroo guys have developed a brand new, simple, straightforward, easy to use, “does what it says on the tin” initial assessment for Functional Skills that produces a detailed diagnostic mapped to all Functional Skills criteria automatically and instantly.
We’ve called it KISS Assess for Functional Skills. Why KISS? It’s a bit of an in-house secret but if you call us, we’ll tell you!
KISS Assess for Functional Skills uses self -registration, so it’s absolutely perfect for pre-recruitment or interview where you’d like potential learners to arrive with a completed Functional Skills level and diagnostic.
A typical learner will complete each subject assessment in around 40 minutes, and with no tutor marking needed, plus Guroo’s famous rigour and expert knowledge of Functional Skills comes as standard.
Want to know more - call us and we’ll show you in a webinar, or join us on Wednesday at 4.00pm for KISS Functional Skills webinar.
OCR Blog - Initial and Diagnostic Assessment - an engaging tool?
A nice little piece looking at some of the wider advantages of a rigorous initial assessment and diagnostic tool written by Garry Haynes of OCR.
It also brings attention back to the need for rigour in initial assessment, and with the Ofsted focus on “stretch”, using an initial assessment and diagnostic tool that is rigorous is very important. After all, a learner with a marginal level 1 assessment will be expected to move straight to level 2, a challenge for many learners in that category.
If you’d like to receive a copy of the White Paper - Initial Assessment in Functional Skills, simply email us and we’ll send you a pdf copy by return.
Wednesday Webinar at 4.00pm
“KISS Assess for Functional Skills” is Wednesday’s webinar with Jonathan Wells, on Wednesday 27th November at 4pm.
A guided tour of the simple and straightforward assessment tool that produces a full Functional Skills diagnostic and nothing else! We record every session as we know that many more people enjoy coming back for the recording afterwards, so if you want to join or just want to watch the recording, just drop an email to email@example.com
Join us on Wednesday 27th November at 4pm.
All previous webinars are recorded and available anytime for playback - login as a guest and the password is password. Simply click on the links below and don’t forget, if you’d like to have your own 1:1 webinar looking at how Guroo can help you support Functional Skills, just call us on 0191 305 5045 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take it from there.
Posted on | October 21, 2013 | Comments Off
Guroo Open Training is a three hour training session (including break) on how to use Guroo to support the teaching of Functional Skills.
A new innovative method of delivering high quality but low cost face to face training, the first session will be in Milton Keynes on 26th November. If this proves popular and sells out, don’t worry, simply let Cathy (who’s organising them) know and we’ll add some more dates and locations.
The sessions will be led by Sally Bryant, an experienced Functional Skills practitioner, author and examiner, the session will take you through the Functional Skills Learner Journey and the tutor experience using all aspects of the Guroo system. During the session we’ll cover:
- Initial assessment and diagnostic
- Using teaching and learning resources
- Preparing for external assessments
- Group and user admin
- Reports and tracking
Open training is for anyone who uses Guroo as part of their tutor/assessor role. The course size is typically 8 up to a maximum of 20 delegates from several establishments. You must bring your own wifi enabled laptop to get the best from the session - wifi is provided. If you do try to book and it’s full, please let us know straight away and we’ll add more events and locations to meet demand.
Posted on | October 9, 2013 | Comments Off
England almost at the bottom of the international league table.
Perhaps it’s time we stopped focussing on managing borderline line passes in GCSE and started actually problem solving, doing the basics right and mastering the simple techniques - all things that Functional Skills does really well. Yet the take up of Functional Skills in schools to support GCSE is really poor - even though England leads the world in learning resources and technology from companies like Guroo Functional Skills.
Posted on | July 30, 2013 | No Comments
Today’s teenagers, faced with economic uncertainty, will confront huge challenges. The good news? They seem singularly well-equipped for the task, according to a major new survey
Across Europe, more than five million twentysomethings have seen their aspirations buried under a mountain of debt, and had their epitaph written: “The Lost Generation”. Britain is no exception. It has 20% youth unemployment, and thousands more not in education or training. At an emergency meeting in Berlin last week, 20 European heads of government agreed a £5bn crisis package to offer apprenticeships, training and job creation. But it will take miracles to make a significant dent in current levels of joblessness – for instance, nearly 60% in Greece and more than 56% in Spain.
This is Generation Y, born between the 1980s and the millennium, hammered by the recession and austerity. Generation Y faces more years of financial slowdown, but what is to become of the cohort following in its footsteps, arguably moving through an even bleaker terrain? What of the generation now in its teens, growing up against a backdrop of accelerating job insecurity, deep cuts to the public sector, flatlining salaries, rising housing costs and fierce competition, exacerbated by globalisation, that has turned the domestic job market into a zone that covers five continents? This is the generation that, for the first time, will see some members slipping down the ladder of mobility and dying younger and possibly poorer than their parents.
The lucrative commercial hunt is on to find a label for this group – once its characteristics can be defined – to allow the Klondike of branding and marketing to begin. The cohort begins with births in the late 1990s, overlapping with Generation Y.
Cohorts traditionally last 20 years but psychologist Jean M Twenge, chronicler of the Y Generation, says that such is the pace of cultural change that the time span is now shrinking to a decade. Given the degree of adversity it faces, it would be unsurprising if this latest cohort finds itself labelled Generation P for pessimism, yet the picture is far more complex.
A survey by BritainThinks into the attitudes of UK teenagers is, of course, no more than a brief glimpse of a cross-section of young people, aged 14 to 18, and parents based in Leeds, London and Coventry. However, there are clues that values and aspirations may significantly differ from those of Generation Y. That earlier cohort has been variously described as narcissistic, materialistic, individualistic, celebrity-obsessed and not inclined to be civic-minded. Digitally fluent, Generation Y abandoned its parents’ lifelong loyalty to a single employer and has changed careers often. So what are the clues to how its successor cohort compares?
In the BritainThinks survey, employment is, predictably, a universal goal (70%), but with qualifications (35%) and home ownership (29%) far behind. Is this the downsizing of ambition? No skivers here. The majority say they would work even if rich and even if paid less than on benefits. Surprisingly perhaps, fame, wealth and designer labels hold little attraction. “I see celebrity as a zoo,” one 14-year-old said. “Why would I want to be in a zoo?”
However, an exodus from Britain does have appeal; where to go is less clear given the parlous state of the rest of Europe. Two-thirds worry about opportunities in the UK. None expects to be unemployed, even though it’s likely to affect one in five young people.
Creative industries top the list of preferred careers (manufacturing, engineering and retail are very unpopular). There is concern about a lack of “real” apprenticeships, vocational opportunities and useful careers advice. Luke Murphy, for instance, is 18 and lives in Leeds. He has just completed a Btec level 3 in games design, a course that includes 3D modelling, web design and animation. He hopes to gain a triple merit and aims to study animation at university.
“I’ve always brought characters to life so I had a good idea of what I want to do,” he says. “The school made suggestions, but for the most part it was me doing the looking.”
Across the group, even 14- and 15-year-olds have a grounded eye on their futures. Lucy Baillie, 35, in Leeds, is the parent of Harry, 15, and five-year-old Poppy. “Harry wants to be a footballer, but otherwise he’s set on being a mechanic or an electrician. He’s a good boy. He’ll be OK,” she says.
“My daughter, Megan, is 14 and very level-headed,” says Andrew Smith, 46, deputy head of a primary school in Surrey, who took a 50% cut in salary to switch from his career as a Middle East analyst seven years ago. Megan is in private school. “I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do, even in my 20s. Megan knows exactly her route. She sees herself as working in publishing first, then as an author and possibly teaching later. Life has changed a lot in the last five years. Two or three careers seems a good option. “
The BritainThinks survey hints at a move away from Generation Y’s individualism. In the nine focus groups, there was a strong desire for “giving back”. On the negative side, a quarter of the sample (drawn across the classes) expressed concerns about mental ill health and the price that might be exacted. “You can’t afford to be fragile,” one 15-year-old said.
The young people’s near-total lack of connection to Westminster politics ought to be a major challenge to the political establishment. In Scotland, 16-year-olds will vote on independence next year, while in this survey, only 55% of young people expressed an obligation to vote. That is a critical democratic deficit.
“There is a mysterious cycle in human events,” said Franklin D Roosevelt back in 1936. “To some generations, much is given. Of other generations, much is expected.”
Forging economic survival, community regeneration and personal happiness out of the debris of a decade and more of corporate avarice, a reduced welfare state and financial meltdown, is the task ahead for today’s teenagers. Success may elude some, but it could also be the making of a new and robust social contract. Are we seeing a less individualistic, less hedonistic, more community-minded Generation A – anxious, austerity-minded, anti-materialistic but also highly aware of the importance of a connection to others?
Posted on | July 30, 2013 | No Comments
A teacher in South Carolina is on adminstrative leave after the parent of a 14-year-old complained that Orson Scott Card’s classic novel was ‘pornographic’
Violent teenagers struggling to survive in dystopian futures might be all the rage thanks to the popularity of Suzanne Collins’s smash hit The Hunger Games, but in Aiken, South Carolina, at least, Orson Scott Card’s classic science fiction novel Ender’s Game has proved rather unpalatable.
The parent of a 14-year-old at Schofield Middle School complained to school officials and the police after a teacher at the school reportedly read to his class from the novel. The parent described Ender’s Game as “pornographic”, local press reported, and complained about its subject matter. Like The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game sees teenagers pitting their battle skills against each other. In Card’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning story, though, the hero Ender has been recruited for the Battle School, where Earth’s most talented children train for future conflict against human’s alien enemies, known as the buggers. Despite the violence it describes, Ender’s Game is included on the American Library Association’s list of the best 100 books for young adults.
The Aiken Standard reported that the teacher had been placed on administrative leave last week while police and school investigations looked into whether he breached school policy – or the law – when reading to his class from Ender’s Game and two other novels: Agatha Christie’s Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case and The Devil’s Paintbox by Victoria McKernan, the story of two orphans journeying through the frontier west.
A statement from the school said its investigation centred around the report “that the books in question being utilised by the teacher had curse words and terms that might not be age appropriate”. The school said that while it was in the process of its own review, it was “notified by law enforcement that the parent had filed a complaint with them as well”.
The police investigation has now closed after officials found the teacher “did not do anything criminal”, the Aiken Standard reported, but, after determining that two of the three books contained swear words and terminology “inappropriate for the middle school age”, the school investigation is ongoing and the teacher remains on leave.
A film version of Ender’s Game, featuring Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley, is out next year.
Posted on | July 30, 2013 | No Comments
Local authority schools with a similar pupil intake performed better, according to new analysis of government figures
Academies are under-performing compared with other state schools, raising doubts over the reform programme being pursued by the education secretary, according to a new analysis of government figures.
Ministers are encouraging schools to remove themselves from local authority control to become academies, while failing schools are having that status imposed upon them. Michael Gove, who is pushing through the programme, has accused critics of being “happy with failure”. However, a new analysis of Department for Education figures shows that, while 60% of pupils in non-academy schools attained five A* to C grade GCSEs last year, only 47% did so in the 249 sponsored academies.
The progress that pupils achieve over time is also lower in academies than in non-academy schools, with 65% of those in academies making expected progress in English in the year leading to the 2011 GCSE examinations, compared with 74% in the community, foundation and voluntary-aided schools that make up the rest of the state sector.
Defenders of the academy programme have argued that the comparatively poor progress should be expected in academies populated by under-achieving pupils in disadvantaged areas. However, a further breakdown of the figures by Henry Stewart, an educationalist from the anti-academies campaign group Local Schools Network, shows that the gap is similar when like-for-like academies and schools are compared. His figures show that there is still a significant gap in attainment between academies and schools that both have 40% of pupils receiving free school meals.
In the 40 academies with such an intake, 38% of pupils achieved five A* to C grade GCSEs in 2011, including English and maths, while similar schools in the rest of the state sector achieved 44%.
Stewart said that, even with academies that have been independent from local-authority control for more than three years, the results are not as good as schools still under council control.
When comparing the performance of academies and standard schools that had fewer than 35% of their intake achieving A* to C grades in 2008, it was the schools that had not become independent that achieved the best results in 2011.
While the academies improved strongly in that period, going from 23.6% to 42.2% in terms of the numbers achieving five GCSEs from A* to C including English and maths, the same happened for those schools that were not converted, despite receiving less funding. Their results went from 24.3% to 43.4%.
The results appear to contradict Gove’s claims for the benefits of academy status. The education secretary says that the change in status cuts bureaucracy, frees head teachers and will improve standards. At a recent education select committee hearing, Gove said that he expected most secondary schools in England to become academies during this parliament. The government has, in particular, championed Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, east London, that was previously run by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the new chief inspector of schools; and Burlington Danes Academy in Hammersmith, west London, for their improved results.
However, Stewart said that the government did not have the evidence to justify the changes. “This government claims that academies have such a strong proven track record that every school could convert to them. They quote schools like Mossbourne and Burlington Danes in support. However, this is policymaking by anecdote, not by evidence. Both those schools are outstanding, but they are clearly, from the data the DfE released, not the norm for academies. If government education policy was genuinely evidence-based, perhaps they should look at converting many of the academies to LA-supported non-academies, in the hope that this would raise their results.”
A DfE spokesman did not deny the accuracy of the statistics, but said that there was evidence that, given time, academies did improve results significantly. Final GCSE results for 2011 show that, of the 166 academies with results in both 2010 and 2011, the percentage of pupils achieving five or more good GCSEs including English and maths rose from 40.6% to 46.3%.
This means that academies’ GCSE results improved by nearly twice the level of state-funded schools, which increased by 3.1% to 58.2%. The spokesman said: “The longer the vast majority of sponsored academies are open, the better the results – far outstripping the under-performing schools they replaced, far faster than the national average and with a higher proportion rated outstanding by Ofsted. We know that the poorest pupils make faster progress in academies than in other state schools.”
Posted on | July 30, 2013 | No Comments
The role of employment advisers is diminishing as web-based services come to the fore, but what about the personal touch?
Margaret-Anne Mackenzie left school in April without any qualifications. “I didn’t get any careers advice at school,” the 16-year-old says. She’s not alone – one in four 15- to 19-year-olds said the same in a survey published recently by vocational qualifications provider City & Guilds.
The teenager, who cares for her mother in sheltered accommodation, has also had to cope with the recent disruption of a move from Scotland to south Wales, which left her feeling “quite scared” of starting out again in a new place where she had no friends or contacts.
But Mackenzie may have just got lucky, because at a summer drop-in session run by the Newport Careers Centre, she was linked up with a personal careers adviser who took the time and trouble to get to know her.
With a lot of encouragement, she mustered the confidence to attend a pre-16 youth gateway course run by Careers Wales Gwent. Having said she wanted to be a hairdresser, her adviser’s assessment that Mackenzie needed to improve her communication and basic life skills led to some intensive one-to-one support to help her get on to a vocational access course.
Seeing her adviser a couple of times a month over the summer, she was then helped to apply for educational maintenance allowance (though no longer available to new applicants in England, EMA is still paid in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and a college bursary, and put in touch with an organisation for young carers.
This ongoing relationship with an adviser who got to know her was clearly important. Without it, says Mackenzie, “I’d have been worried, because I wouldn’t have known what to do and I wouldn’t have been able to do my course. I’d have just been staying at home.”
With hard work and probably a fair bit more guidance as she navigates her way through future training options, Mackenzie hopefully won’t end up adding to the youth unemployment numbers. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show there are now almost one million young people under 25 who are out of work. If you are 16 or 17, the picture is bleaker still – fewer than a quarter have jobs.
Add in mid-career public sector employees being made redundant in their tens of thousands – 111,000 in the second quarter of this year to be more precise – and you have 2.57 million people out of work.
Given that Jobcentres do not do much for professionals who have been made redundant, their advisers are not available to anyone under the age of 18, and Connexions centres which did cater for the 16-19 age range are being closed en masse, many are confused as to the kind of advice available to the huge variety of differently skilled and experienced people seeking new career and training pathways.
Come next spring, when two national careers services will be launched in England and Wales (Scotland’s, a web portal called My World of Work, has just gone live), what is available may well look very different to what is on offer now.
A “blended” approach now seems to be the official mantra to describe the shape of careers services to come. Translated, that means more automation with websites and helplines being heavily promoted. Put more bluntly, careers websites are cheaper than trained and experienced advisers, meaning more of the former and fewer of the latter.
Cheaper, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean less effective. Jane Artess, research director at the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (Hecsu), who is overseeing the revamp of its graduate careers website Prospects.ac.uk, says the increasing automation of careers services has the potential to work very well for certain segments of the population, but only if a good support mechanism is put in place around it. “The web is a fantastic place for information, but it’s not such a great place for guidance,” she says. “It is not sufficient on its own.”
Her view is shared by Ciaran Wrynn, head of programme design and delivery for career transition at recruitment consultants Hays. “There’s no way the internet can tap into motivation or challenge beliefs,” he says. “But a blended approach means people can enter the job market more effectively.”
At Skills Development Scotland, director of service design and innovation, Jonathan Clark, points out that because the workplace has become more complex and varied, “the notion that one person could be a gateway to all the opportunities in the world of work is not very realistic any more”.
Those who will benefit most from the new web portals, he says, will be self-motivated, with the personal skills and resilience to enjoy the experience of exploring and planning their career direction.
However, Paul Chubb, director of Careers England, the membership organisation for careers professionals, says many of his members are concerned that over-reliance on web portals and call centres will disadvantage those who are already struggling to break into the jobs market. “The idea of taking responsibility for their own career planning may be unthinkable for some younger and more vulnerable people without a great deal of one-to-one support,” he says.
Imagine you have literacy problems. Or don’t have a computer at home. Or you can’t afford a new computer and the one you’ve got won’t run Flash, so websites look weird and you can’t access certain pages. Or you’re 16 and left school with poor qualifications; you may not have the confidence to even get started, let alone the motivation to keep going when you realise how much self-directed research you have to do.
For many unemployed aged under 19, this last point may prove the biggest obstacle. In England, anyone over 19 is currently eligible to talk to an adviser face-to-face. But when the national careers service launches next year, those aged 16-19 will not have the right to personalised careers guidance. The £200m that pays for this advice service will disappear into the Department for Education’s coffers. Personalised careers advice will remain available to adults because the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will continue to fund it.
The Education bill proposes that for those still in school, headteachers will need to buy in careers services from private providers, although no extra funding will be made available. A recently published Careers England report into the impact of career guidance in England claims that, because the bill does not require much in the way of quality assurance, bought-in services are “likely to have neither a guarantee of professional competence nor labour market intelligence” and raises “serious concerns about impartiality”.
On the other hand, there is not much out there for those leaving school at 16, other than a website and a phone number.
“If you’re just sitting typing at a computer it’s not really going to build your confidence – you need to be able to ask loads of questions,” says Shaun Donald, 18, from Dundee.
He left school in 2009 and, after a work placement at office supplies retailer Staples, began a college course in art and design. After five months when he realised he couldn’t afford the cost of travel, he dropped out. Since then he has been looking for jobs, but with no success: his experience of short work placements and a false start at college is exactly why, say careers experts, he needs personalised guidance rather than a website to help him.
“There’s a million different sites,” Donald says. “You spend hours and hours ploughing through jobs, and when you find one you’ll be directed to another site and it’ll be gone.”
Just a few weeks ago however, once he hit 18, he started to get some one-to-one help at a job club, during which he was introduced to the Scottish web portal My World of Work. “The job club people have given me more confidence to search for jobs, and the website helped me find out what my skills and strengths are and helped with my CV – it looks amazing now,” he says. Using the website has been enjoyable he says, but once you’ve done your CV “you need to be able to talk things through as well”.
Ministers who want to direct more people towards websites “are confusing information with guidance”, according to Adrian Fayter, trade union Unison’s representative for young people’s services in York, and a qualified careers adviser.
“Would the public accept only a web-based consultation with their GP? Would anyone seriously suggest psychotherapy services operate via a call centre? A guidance interview is an in-depth discussion – a mix of counselling, job interview, pep talk and a way for young people to reflect on their skills. For some, it challenges their misconceptions, and also the misconceptions they’ve been fed by other people. My opinion is that it would be disastrous for young people who are Neets [not in employment, education or training] to find that there was no expert help.”
Those with a degree may have rather better prospects, but unemployment is still high with one in five recent graduates out of work.
University careers services have had a mixed press which, believes Hecsu’s Jane Artess, stems partly from students failing to understand the myriad ways that careers officers work to increase their employability behind the scenes – for example, by building relationships with companies that come to recruit at jobs fairs.
However, with students soon to be paying more for their degrees and needing to see a concrete return, Nadim Choudhury, head of careers at the private London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), thinks university careers advisers will have to up their game.
“At LSBF we have totally repositioned our school to being career focused,” he says. “We offer a proactive training and development programme – there are 12 workshops that students must attend – and from the first day they start university, from their induction, the careers service is part of that planning.”
LSBF has a very different student profile to the University of the Arts London (UAL), where Steve Beddoe, director of student enterprise and employability, says many creative graduates wanting to become sole traders or work in micro-enterprises face problems that orthodox careers services simply don’t address.
To give students the skills and knowledge they need, a new, interactive UAL website now shows updates on training courses, peer-learning opportunities and short films demonstrating how artists have moved into their chosen careers.
Whether you are a creative or professional or manual worker, straight out of university or facing redundancy in your 50s, with a few qualifications or none to your name, it seems that will soon be using a variety of automated means to find work – online forums, text alerts, interactive personality tests and online CV assessment tools to name just a few.
But whatever a jobseeker’s level of skill, experience or qualification, every careers expert Guardian Work spoke to for this article agreed an automated careers service would not work without also offering f ace-to-face support.
The Scottish and Welsh national careers services give everyone the option of talking to a qualified, impartial professional. Will the English service change tack to do the same?
Useful careers sites
Posted on | July 30, 2013 | No Comments
Poll shows 28% of those studying apprenticeships, BTecs and GNVQs are missing out on careers counselling
A quarter of teenagers say they have never received any careers advice, according to a poll.
The survey of 1,620 15- to 19-year-olds found those on vocational courses were least likely to have been given guidance.
Some 22% of those studying for A-levels and university courses said they had not received careers advice; this rose to 28% for those taking apprenticeships, BTecs and GNVQs.
The survey, conducted on behalf of City & Guilds – an exam board for vocational courses – also found teenagers were far more likely to ask advice from parents if they had been to university.
Just 30% of teenagers would turn first to their parents for advice if they had no more than GCSE-level qualifications. Some 45% would ask their parents for career help if they had degrees.
Nick Grist, head of the City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development, said the survey showed deprived teenagers would be further disadvantaged in future.
The government plans to create a new National Careers Service by April next year. However, it will not provide face-to-face guidance for those aged under 19. Instead, schools will be given a legal duty to offer careers advice to their pupils.
Grist said this could lead to “computer-generated” advice replacing students’ face-to-face conversations with career advisers.
“Young people depend on effective guidance to help them choose career and learning options that suit their interests, talents and aspirations,” he said. “It’s not enough to hope that a remote telephone operator or website will be able to give them the personalised support they need, or that hard-pressed head teachers will be able to find space in their budgets for top-quality, face-to-face guidance services.”
A spokesman from the Department for Education said it was a “sad fact … that too much [careers advice] … is poor quality and patchy”.
“That’s why we are giving schools responsibility for providing independent, impartial careers advice. Schools know their students best and they are the ones best placed to decide what provision is right. That’s why they have complete control over their budgets to buy in the face-to-face support that pupils need.”
Posted on | July 30, 2013 | No Comments
Schools must specify compulsory subjects up to the age of 16 if Britain is to close the gap with its international peers
The indicators are not good. This week’s OECD performance measures, Education at a Glance, suggests the east is starting to overtake the west in skills. In the PISA league tables, the UK has dropped to 28th in maths while the Asian tigers hold the top spots. Today, five Conservative MPs set out what can be done in After the Coalition, a new book which suggests an agenda for the future of the Conservative party. We do not believe that falling down international league tables is inevitable. But to arrest decline, a radical change in our attitude to education is required.
The British education debate frequently focuses on how the ability or background of students has an effect on their attainment and outcomes. Some argue for a “mixed” catchment so that peers can have a positive influence, others argue for wholesale selection so that bright students from low-income backgrounds can benefit. Bright, low-income students do need a clearer path to success, but a system has to reward work as well as flair.
In the most successful countries, Canada and Germany for example, all students are required to work hard to “pass the year”, and if they don’t there is the sanction of being held back. Those who work hard and achieve can progress faster through the system, for example taking a harder maths class or additional courses in new subjects. Britain should adopt this “escalator” policy to motivate students to work.
Many students cut off career options at 14 when they drop critical subjects such as the single sciences and modern languages. The numbers studying these subjects has plummeted in the last decade. Those from low income backgrounds have been worst affected; only 24 per cent of students on free school meals took a language at GCSE.
In the modern world a core general education is a requirement of most employers and universities. Virtually all the countries that bypass Britain in league tables specify these subjects until 16, including Canada, France and Germany. We should and must expect more. A rigorous core including maths, English, single sciences, a language and history until 16 should be combined with an A-level Baccalaureate of high quality A-levels that gives students a clear signal about what universities want. A strong technical or arts Bacc with employer or institutional sponsorship should also be available for 16- to 18-year-olds. This will provide students with a clear path to success.
The current examination system is costly and lacks public trust. We are the only country in the world with an “independent regulator” because the structure is so complex. I am a free marketer, but this is no free market with heavy government specification and perverse incentives. The competition has been to try and lower the bar.
Before the state started interfering in examinations in the 1960s and 70s, universities did an excellent job of keeping standards high because they had an interest in quality students entering their institutions. There should a single exam board under the control of universities. Examining bodies should be banned from the production of textbooks, a clear conflict of interest which has exacerbated “teach to test”.
Measures to increase the rigour of exams, strengthen the academic core for all students and reward hard work are all a vital part of catching up the world leaders in education.
• Elizabeth Truss is the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk