Schools like to hang on to their pupils until they are 18. This has been a bugbear for FE colleges for many years as they feel they do not get a fair hearing. Schools claim a closer personal relationship with their students, better pastoral support and argue that they have a good reputation when it comes to getting university places.
Things have changed dramatically in the last year or so. Just this week, Sheffield Hallam announced it is suspending its degree in English Literature; last week it was announced that there will be fewer places for medical students this year. Maybe it is time to reconsider. Why would young people struggle to get one of a decreasing number of uni places and rack up enormous debts when there are other options?
On 20 June 2022, the government issued its consultation on revised statutory guidance on access to schools for education and training providers. It will enforce a legal requirement, ‘making sure that all secondary schools open their doors to other education and training providers.’
Baker Dearing Education Trust chief executive, Simon Connell, points out that with the introduction of T Levels young people want to know more about the technical options on offer from UTCs, colleges, and training providers, in concert with employers. He believes that ‘the department ought to come down hard on schools who try to cheat pupils and providers by using pre-recorded videos or simply distributing literature on technical options.’
UTCs offer a totally different education as Christopher Simpson found out.
He is now an IT Systems Administrator with Z-Tech Control, a company that provides specialist electrical, control and instrumentation support to the UK’s water, power and rail industries. They funded him to do a degree level apprenticeship in Digital Technologies.
‘I would not have got this apprenticeship if I hadn’t gone to Greater Peterborough UTC,’ he said. ‘At my school the only path was university. I found this difficult as I could never truly picture myself there. The way they taught at the UTC really helped ground what we were learning in reality. This feeling was reinforced by the near constant involvement by sponsors so we knew we were learning something that was useful, rather than an abstract concept that would never see the light of day. GPUTC gave me a chance to see and connect with employers and find what I wanted to do.’
Read more bout the consultation here. The closing date for responses is 25 July 2022.
The solution to fix Britain’s failing education system the 96-page report recommends
A British Baccalaureate offering broader academic and vocational qualifications at 18, with parity in funding per pupil in both routes, and a slimmed-down set of exams at 16 to bring out the best in every child.
An “electives premium” for all schools to be spent on activities including drama, music, dance and sport and a national citizen’s service experience for every pupil, with volunteering and outdoor pursuits expeditions to ensure that the co-curricular activities enjoyed by the most advantaged become available to all.
A new cadre of Career Academies — elite technical and vocational sixth forms with close links to industry — mirroring the academic sixth forms that are being established and a new focus on creativity and entrepreneurialism in education to unleash the economic potential of Britain.
A significant boost to early years funding targeted at the most vulnerable and a unique pupil number from birth, to level the playing field before children get to school. A library in every primary school.
An army of undergraduate tutors earning credit towards their degrees by helping pupils who fall behind to catch up.
A laptop or tablet for every child and a greater use of artificial intelligence in schools, colleges and universities to personalise learning, reduce teacher workload and prepare young people better for future employment.
Wellbeing should be at the heart of education, with a counsellor in every school and an annual wellbeing survey of pupils to encourage schools to actively build resilience rather than just support students once problems have arisen.
Bring out the best in teaching by enhancing its status and appeal with better career development, revalidation every five years and a new category of consultant teachers, promoted within the classroom, as well as a new teaching apprenticeship.
A reformed Ofsted that works collaboratively with schools to secure sustained improvement rather than operating through fear and a new “school report card” with a wider range of metrics including wellbeing, school culture, inclusion and attendance to unleash the potential of schools.
Better training for teachers to identify children with special educational needs, a greater focus on inclusion and a duty on schools to remain accountable for the pupils they exclude to draw out the talent in every child.
New university campuses in fifty higher education “cold spots”, including satellite wings in FE colleges, improved pay and conditions in the FE sector and a transferable credit system between universities and colleges to boost stalled British productivity.
A 15-year strategy for education, drawn up in consultation with business leaders, scientists, local mayors, civic leaders and cultural figures, putting education above short-term party politics and bringing out the best in our schools, colleges and universities.