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Philosophy of Vocational Education

While there has been extensive debate over the principles and philosophy of academic education in recent decades, the same has not been the case for vocational education. This has led to constant experimentation, change and frustrating repetition.

As the consensus both here and internationally grows that high quality vocational education is a fundamental contributor to addressing future economic challenges, now is the time for us to have that debate. By establishing the underlying principles and philosophy of English vocational education, we can start to move away from instability towards a more settled and focused vision for the future. 

The Edge Foundation is leading this work in partnership with colleagues at the National Baccalaureate Trust, Kings College London and the Institute of Education. We want to spark a national debate about the principles and philosophy that should underpin vocational education in this country. We want you to take part in that debate.

Below you can download a short first paper setting out what we think are the key questions that we need to answer. We want to invite anyone with an interest in education to provide a response to some or all of these questions. We want this to be a short, sharp debate, so are looking for your honest views in no more than 250 words. You can email this to our Policy and Research Director at or input your views online at

We will publish (with permission) a number of perspectives under each question over the next couple of months to continue the debate, culminating in an interactive seminar in March. We look forward to working with you to create a stable base for the future of vocational education.