Labour to reveal vision for educational reforms

Monday, March 3, 2014
10:51 AM

All children would have to study English and maths until the age of 18 under a Labour government as the party unveils major changes to the education system.

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Labour will reveal plans for a “national baccalaureate” today in the publication of a report on improving the education of 14 to 19-year-olds.

The proposals are part of a package of reforms designed to cut the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), improve standards in key subjects and get young people ready for the workplace.

The proposed national baccalaureate would be either a “technical bacc” for those seeking vocational training or a “general bacc” for teenagers following a more traditional academic route.

Available at both GCSE and A-level, it would involve attaining significant skills in both English and maths – as well as a pupil’s core subjects – following a personal skills development programme and carrying out an extended project.

Labour’s reforms, proposed in the report by the party’s skills taskforce, would also involve greater responsibility being placed on schools to track what their pupils go on to do, whether it be further education, training or work.

Schools that fail to ensure pupils progress in this way would face losing funding, with the money used to transform careers guidance in those schools and going to local employers to develop partnership programmes offering structured careers advice.

Almost a million young people are currently NEET because careers advice and guidance is inadequate, Labour says.

Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said the proposals would address the talents of the “forgotten 50%” of young people who want to pursue vocational routes through education.

Condemning prime minister David Cameron’s view of vocational education as “at best an after-thought”, Mr Hunt said: “Reforms must focus on driving up standards in maths and English, strengthening character and resilience and equipping the labour market of the future with the skills set it needs.

“More of the same just won’t do.”

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