Headlines: March 13th, 2002

In a consultation exercise launched by the Department for Education and Skills young people are being asked to give their views on proposals for revamping the education for 14 to 19 year olds. The exercise will include young people’s focus groups run by experts, distributing copies of the proposals to all members of the UK Youth Parliament and Youth Councils, advertising in schools and colleges and on websites targeted at young people. Details of the changes can be found at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/youngpeople.The proposals seek to overcome the rigidity of present arrangements and the current focus on academic achievement. The plan provides for young people to follow pathways tailored to their aptitudes and aspirations. These should include a wide range of high quality vocational and academic programmes in school, college and the workplace. More people should be encouraged to stay in learning to the age of 19 and beyond. An overarching award available to young people to recognise the breadth and depth of achievement by the age of 19 is proposed.

The introduction of GCSEs in vocational subjects represents a major extension of vocational education. It will give a positive choice rather than a second-class fall back, and provide vocational routes to higher education. The proposals will remove divisive labels and deliver a range of high quality, high status academic, vocational/technical and mixed options. This will help to ensure that school offers something relevant and attractive to all pupils, not just the academically minded.