Schoolzone blog: Wilshaw: vocational thinking requires improvement

Wilshaw: vocational thinking requires improvement
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19 Nov 2014

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Vocational courses are an afterthought, and there not enough apprenticeships for 16 year olds, Michael WIlshaw told the CBI yesterday. He laments the poor vocational provision in schools but spectacularly fails to mention the main reason for this, which is that vocational qualifications play very little part in school performance measures.

He hoped for four things to happen:

  • Apprenticeships must have parity of esteem with A levels. They must be sold aggressively to schools, parents and young people. This means that the quality of careers information and guidance must be raised substantially.
  • High-quality vocational education must be readily available to all pupils in the same way academic education is. It should be seen as a valid option for every student and not as the consolation prize for those who cannot do anything else.
  • Employer engagement must be at the forefront of any reform.
  • All vocational training must give a clear line of sight to work.

Anyway, he then goes on to describe the vision which we covered in our post of 7 Oct: Ofsted plan for super-streaming at KS4 - which is a rather nutty plan that can safely be forgotten, at least until after the next election. However, he does recommend that the CBI supports some initiatives which are a bit more within the realms of possibility:

  • More employers should become involved with schools by mentoring pupils, offering them work experience and encouraging their staff to become governors.
  • Large employers should help smaller ones by working through their supply chain to share and support apprenticeships
  • LEPs, Chambers of Commerce and the CBI could help organise apprenticeships at a local level, take the lead on recruitment, give advice on how to source training and help SMEs to access apprenticeships

All of which sound like reasonable aspirations: if schools are prepared/incentivised to work more closely with local businesses and if the new accountability measures could appropriately reflect the contribution made by vocational subjects (a crucial issue not mentioned by Wilshaw) some of it may actually happen. But his super-streaming plans won't.

So: Outstanding effort, but the thinking requires improvement.


PS: the report from Ofsted came with the Campaign for Plain English stamp, yet by para seven, we have "Overall, one in five job vacancies are unfilled". Plain it may be, but correct, it ain't. Before that even, the report talks about "28 per cent in agriculture and business services" - what are agriculture and business services: farm shops? Later he talks about being stuck on a roundabout but putting the blame at the door of schools which aren't firing on all cylinders... mixed metaphor? Anyway, I'm not an English teacher and am starting to feel petty...




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