Osfted Chief Inspector calls for improved vocational provision in schools

19th January 2016

There are a number of aspects of the keynote speech given by Sir Michael Wilshaw on his 'Ambitions for English Education' (Monday 18 January 2016) that Edge is pleased to support.

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A letter to the editor - The Ebacc

6th January 2016

David Harbourne, Edge's acting chief executive today adds his name to a number of signatories to a letter published in The Times today (Wednesday, January 6th, 2016) that express 'deep concern' by the Government's proposals to set a 90 per cent target of pupils taking GCSE subjects.

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House of Commons' News

  • David Cameron has said that more needs to be done to improve the information available in schools so that people can see the opportunities for apprenticeships and where some might lead on to a degree. He was responding to a question (No 12) from Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-on-Avon during Prime Minister’s Question.
    See Hansard link for the full exchange
  • MPs yesterday discussed how to increase diversity in STEM careers during a Westminster Hall debate secured by Ben Howlett, MP for Bath. Edge’s attention was also caught by the speech made by Flick Drummond, MP for Portsmouth South. Speaking towards the end of the debate, Mrs Drummond made the point that STEM does not necessarily mean academic subjects, ‘to me, it’s about a range of careers’. She added this is one of the reasons for encouraging a UTC to be opened in Portsmouth. The college will not only be doing maths and sciences but technical engineering, training draughtsmen and teaching craftsmanship in areas such as carpentry and other vocational subjects.
    To read the full debate, see this Hansard link
  • MPs forecast funding crisis for FE Colleges - The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has forecast “serious consequences” for the funding of FE Colleges. The Skills Funding Agency deemed 29 colleges financially “inadequate” in 2013/14, but that number could rise to 70 this year. The Public Accounts Committee urged the Government to put the sector on a “stable financial footing” in order to head off “real danger of substantial further deterioration." It condemned failure by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Skills Funding Agency to “help colleges address risks at an early stage.” In its report, the committee raised concerns over sluggish intervention in financial and educational risks and that the complex oversight structure has led to confusion regarding who should step in to fix issues. It implored the Government to simplify oversight and intervention arrangements, and to ensure the Further Education Commissioner has the resources needed to assist struggling colleges. Committee chair Meg Hillier said: “The Government has been desperately slow off the mark to tackle a looming crisis in further education. This is deeply worrying for a sector which equips people with skills and qualifications that can transform their life prospects, and by extension those of the communities in which they live and work.”
    See Hansard link for a copy of the PAC report

House of Lords' News

  • Baroness Neville–Rolfe, a Government Minister in the House of Lords has confirmed the earnings potential of apprentices. In a written answer, the Minister replies that “we know that apprenticeships have long-run productivity and wage benefits for apprentices and the wider economy, which are not included in the OBR’s modelling. On average, an apprenticeship increases an individual’s earnings by 11-16% within three to five years.”
    See the Hansard link for the full reply
  • During a debate on the Enterprise Bill (Monday, October 12, 2105) Lord Baker spoke of the need to ‘create new pathways to success.’ He said: “We have to get it across to many young people that an apprenticeship is not a second-class pathway to success. It can, in fact, be infinitely better than a university degree, because the English education system is now cursed by only one target: three A-levels and a university. That has resulted in a very large increase in graduate unemployment at the moment.”
    See Hansard link for details of the full debate
  • The House of Lords recently debated the government’s plans for expanding the apprenticeship programme for 16 to 18 year-olds.
    See Hansard link
  • The House of Lords has discussed alternative routes open to young people other than going to university. Edge's Chairman, Lord Baker, spoke in the debate about the role of UTCs, Career Colleges and apprenticeships.
    See Hansard link
  • Education minister Lord Nash had said revised guidance on careers advice and guidance clearly states that schools should act impartially and recognise that some students would be better suited to educational training beyond schools and that they should give other providers the opportunity to inform pupils about the offer. He was responding to a question asking whether the Government have any plans to change the current system of careers advice for young people in schools.
    See Hansard link