Education leaders in Norfolk and Suffolk last night welcomed Labour leader Ed Miliband’s proposals to give vocational qualifications a higher status.

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But they raised concerns that the plans could force young people to choose between vocational and academic study too early.

Mr Miliband gave his much-anticipated speech at the party conference in Manchester yesterday and revealed details of the new Technical Baccalaureate for 18-year-olds which he would introduce if Labour won the 2015 election.

He said the qualification would seek to better serve the “forgotten 50pc who do not go to university”.

He added: “We can’t be a country where vocational qualifications are seen as second class. They are a real route to apprenticeships and jobs. They can be as valuable to young people as a university degree. We need to make it so.”

Students would set out on a path towards the Tech Bacc at 14 and would combine vocational courses, work experience and compulsory English and maths to the age of 18.

Secondary school headteachers and further education college leaders both welcomed the idea of giving vocational studies a higher profile and status in the education system.

David Pomfret, principal at the College of West Anglia in King’s Lynn, said: “Many students taking vocational qualifications at college already go on to high quality careers or progress to higher education and it is important that we continue to show that vocational qualifications are not seen as second class certificates. In this regard, the concept of a technical baccalaureate is an interesting idea and I look forward to further clarification of the details of his plans.”

Penny Wycherley, principal at Great Yarmouth College, said Mr Miliband’s ideas reflected work already being done at the college to ensure students got practical knowledge and experience alongside core qualifications in English and maths.

She said it was right that should be recognised with an official qualification “people can respond to”.

The policy idea is in contrast to the path the coalition government has taken. Ministers seemed determined to move away from vocational courses, insisting “rigorous” academic subjects were the best option for all students.

Mr Miliband’s proposal seeks to offer an alternative view and an alternative option for students he said would be “written off” by Michael Gove’s plans for an academic English Baccalaureate at 16.

But Norfolk and Suffolk’s education leaders last night insisted it did not have to be one way or the other. They warned against proposals that forced students to choose between vocational and academic study too early.

Rob Anthony, associate headteacher at the Hewett School in Norwich, said: “There is a third way where you can value vocation qualifications, value academic qualifications, and allow students to take a blend of the two. That’s what I would like to see students be able to do.”

Jeremy Rowe, headteacher at Sir John Leman High School in Beccles, said it was “high time vocational qualifications were brought into line” with academic studies.

But he said he hoped Labour would include options to mix the two in the detail of the proposals.

10 comments

  • The. Headteacher's quoted in the article are right - it doesn't have to be one way or the other. Politicians need to stop labelling our young people and recognise that it's actually about ensuring we have a variety of approaches to help every young person fulfil their ability, rather than treating one type of education as second class - one size does not fit all but that doesn't mean one way is more valid than the other. The Tech Bacc is actually not a bad idea, but its not new either - there is lots of great work already being done along these lines in schools and colleges around the county and in addition the Norfolk UTC which is under development will be providing an education which has a blend of academic and practical technical education, with a high level of employer input to ensure the practical aspects are both challenging and relevant.

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    N

    Friday, October 5, 2012

  • No Popeye, that's not what I meant. of course making mistakes and not always achieving what we want to is an important concept for young people to learn if they are to become fully functioning members of society. However the current system doesn't adequately address how to help them if they do fail their exams. Just because they haven't achieved in one thing doesn't make them a failure, we need to make sure they can find what is the right path for them. I refer back to my previous example - on your criteria the MD of the company would have been labelled a failure. We all have different things which motivate us to perform well and bring the best out of us; the key is to tap into this to make sure all young people do the best they can become and can become contributing members of society, earning a living rather relying on the state.

    Report this comment

    N

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

  • Popeyes is falling into the same trap as the politicians - labelling young people as a success or failure based on exam results does nothing to raise ambition. Who would be considered the success in the following scenario - the A-grade, business accountancy graduate who lands a very nice job in a successful business - or the managing director of that same company who left school college with minimal exam grades, no degree but had enough entrepreneurial ability to set up and grow a successful company. I work for someone who did just that - they will be the first to admit they didn't do well at school - but that hasnt stopped them being extremely able in terms of being able to understand everthing that goes with running a company. We have to get away from the idea that the only measure of ability success is one type of exam. I am not an apologist for mediocrity - what we really need is to have a system which really helps people fulfil their potential.

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    N

    Friday, October 5, 2012

  • Milly, needs more of a brain job, than the nose one he had done. People don't trust nuLabour, perpetual war and a busted economy, along with the 5 million poor migrants they allowed in, has condemned this failed party to the wilderness of ever being electable..simples.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

  • No Popeye, you are missing the point. Of course children need to learn that making mistakes and not always achieving what they want is part of life and that getting things wrong is how we learn and develop. However there is a difference between failing at something and being a failure. Just because you fail an exam doesn't make you a failure but unfortunately the current system doesn't distinguish between the two and all too often young people who have not passed their exams are consigned to the scrap heap. Everyone has potential, it's just a case of finding the best way of tapping into it. Most people will have something which motivates them to perform and which brings out the best in them. Having a variety of educational paths to follow is just an extension of this concept. Surely we want all young people to become functioning, contributing members of society, who can earn a living and dont rely on the state. Simply labelling them a failure at 16 because they didn't do well in their GCSEs rather than finding what it is they are good at and helping them to develop this potential, isn't helpful for any of us.

    Report this comment

    N

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

  • Ok N, no child will be allowed to fail by not allowing any child to be in any situation where they could fail. I think that solves the problem doesn't it?

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Friday, October 5, 2012

  • ok N...you accept failure but see it as flagging up a need to put more educational resources in that particular child's direction. I don't agree, as it would take money away from those that do thrive under normal education. The educational cap doesn't fit all and it never will, despite what the educational idealists dream about.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

  • The. Headteacher's quoted in the article are right - it doesn't have to be one way or the other. Politicians need to stop labelling our young people and recognise that it's actually about ensuring we have a variety of approaches to help every young person fulfil their ability, rather than treating one type of education as second class - one size does not fit all but that doesn't mean one way is more valid than the other. The Tech Bacc is actually not a bad idea, but its not new either - there is lots of great work already being done along these lines in schools and colleges around the county and in addition the Norfolk UTC which is under development will be providing an education which has a blend of academic and practical technical education, with a high level of employer input to ensure the practical aspects are both challenging and relevant.

    Report this comment

    N

    Friday, October 5, 2012

  • The. Headteacher's quoted in the article are right - it doesn't have to be one way or the other. Politicians need to stop labelling our young people and recognise that it's actually about ensuring we have a variety of approaches to help every young person fulfil their ability, rather than treating one type of education as second class - one size does not fit all but that doesn't mean one way is more valid than the other. The Tech Bacc is actually not a bad idea, but its not new either - there is lots of great work already being done along these lines in schools and colleges around the county and in addition the Norfolk UTC which is under development will be providing an education which has a blend of academic and practical technical education, with a high level of employer input to ensure the practical aspects are both challenging and relevant.

    Report this comment

    N

    Friday, October 5, 2012

  • What we need is clear cut definitions of success and failure in education. All this 'adjusting' to make everyone an educational winner allows mediocracy to triumph within our schools both for pupils and teachers alike.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Friday, October 5, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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