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Education in the Media: Thursday 6 December 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprenticeships, Further education, Higher Education, Technical education

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the Secretary of State’s speech on technical education.

Technical Education

Today, Thursday 6 December, the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, delivered a speech on technical education at Battersea Power Station in London. This has been reported by the Independent, the Times, the Telegraph, the Sun and the Mail.

The Education Secretary’s speech focused on his ambition to close the gap in prestige between vocational education routes and the more traditional academic routes of A Levels and university degrees.

At the heart of achieving this is ensuring technical routes offer a high-quality education to learners. Earlier this year, the Education Secretary visited Germany and the Netherlands to see how other European countries with enterprising economies ensure that technical education thrives.

Part of the plan that the Education Secretary set out today involves establishing a system of employer-led national standards for higher technical education in order to drive up the quality of Level 4 and 5 qualifications. These will be based on existing apprenticeship standards and will provide progression opportunities for those completing T Levels from 2022.

Today’s speech also included plans to reform the pupil destination measure. This will show separately how many young people go on to study degrees, higher technical apprenticeships or Higher Technical Qualifications like a Higher National Diploma.

We also want to match skills to jobs with new support for Skills Advisory Panels. This will include £75,000 for each panel, which can be used to employ an analyst to fully understand the local needs better, as well as new guidance to strengthen the link between employers, local authorities, colleges and universities in their areas.

The Education Secretary also set out plans for UCAS points to be awarded for T Levels, with each programme carrying the same points as three A Levels, putting technical education on par with A Level routes.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

As a nation I’m afraid we’ve been technical education snobs. We’ve revered the academic but treated vocational as second class - when we do it well, law, engineering, medicine - then we don’t even call it vocational.

Why has this has been tolerated for so long? I think the reason is the “O.P.C” problem. For so many opinion formers, commentators and, yes, politicians: vocational courses are POC courses: for ‘other people’s children’. As the Prime Minister has been very clear – this has to change.

Young people not on the A-level route have two years of government funded education when they turn 16…precious time, precious investment in the future…And all too often it’s time and money used to train them to a low level in a skill the economy doesn’t need.

Today Germany, France, the US – all produce over 25% more per hour than the UK. And, actually, this productivity gap with Germany and France first opened up in the late 1960s, further back still with the US. It is a longstanding problem. And this gap really matters. Matching German productivity would allow government to spend tens of billions of pounds a year more in our public services.

You can read the speech in full here.

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