03 Mar 11

Flexibility and parity in Wolf Report?

Commenting on the Review of Vocational Education - the Wolf Report, published today, Voice's Senior Professional Officer (Education) Ian Toone said:

"Professor Wolf's conclusions seem to support the Government's thinking on many of these issues.

"However, we welcome the flexibility which she wishes to introduce into the vocational curriculum, so that schools and colleges can tailor provision to match the needs of students rather than the needs of performance tables, funding agreements or prescribed curriculum requirements.

"However, we are wary of the suggestion that vocational achievements should be excluded from performance measures and that such measures should remain linked to a restricted number of, largely, GCSE subjects. This would appear to undermine the parity of esteem between vocational and academic subjects which Professor Wolf purports to favour, and we support.

"We welcome the recognition of the critical role played by further education colleges in vocational education from 14+, and support the strengthening of the legal rights of colleges in this area and the recommendation that QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills) should be recognised in schools. The inclusion of professional staff with dual qualifications in both teaching and vocational specialisms is pivotal to the effective delivery and success of vocational education in schools, colleges and the workplace.

"With the imminent prospect of the participation age being raised to 18, now is the time to ensure that proper provision is made for the majority of learners for whom a narrow academic approach is neither suitable nor relevant. We cannot afford to retain a form of compulsory education in which the majority of learners find no realistic purpose."

What do you think of the Wolf Report? Do let us know...


We could have had this solution decades ago, as I wrote about it in Professional Teacher [former Voice publication], May 1977, p4 to be precise, I still have a copy even if no-one else has. Then on 11 2 2002 the Daily Telegraph said we were going to get GSCEs in vocational subjects, so why didn't we get them? There is no point at all in wanting parity of esteem if you give two things different names, so GNVQs and Diplomas will always suffer, which is why we destroyed O levels in the first place as CSE was never accepted by many even at grade 1. So when will we get GCSEs and A levels in horticulture, plumbing, or are we going to forget the whole expensive process and carry on just as before and then wonder why half the pupils get little or nothing. anyone heard of leading horses to water?

I think there is a great deal of hypocracy going on here! Professor Wolf wants to highlight the importance of vocational routes....great! Well why do we need to highlight someones academic credentials, i.e. being a 'professor' to do it! This is the main point, the academic route will always want to look down at the vocational. I would love to have seen the response if an industry leader was asked to make a report on improving academic provision! Our problem is that we keep wanting to re-invent vocational education so that it sits nicely along side an academic system which still has its roots in the middle ages. What is needed is a review which truly addresses HOW one moves on from an apprenticeship to a higher level (perhaps academic if relevant) route. Changing the vocational bit alone will not resolve this problem. We need to change the academic system. I would suggest dumping foundation degrees, and championing HNCs and HNDs...higher technical and vocationally focused programmes without the academic guff.

Rant over!

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