Thursday, 3 March 2011

Vocational education

This article on the BBC today has got me thinking. The by-line of the article is:
Too many young people are doing vocational courses which boost league tables but do not lead to university or a job, a report says

The article goes on to say how there is going to be a review of which vocational courses will count for league-tables since some of these courses (which can count for upto 4 GCSEs) do not have any value for the students.

I strongly disagree!

When I was 16 about half of the school year stayed on at school to study A-levels, about a further quarter stayed on at school or at another college to undertake BTEC and similar vocational courses whilst the final quarter went out into the world of work. Each of us chose with our parents and teachers whichever route was best for us academically, socially and aspirationally. I had friends who went to colleges which could offer them vocational courses and they gained much from them, not just in the skills they were learning, but in the learning about how we each must take responsbility for our own lives and futures.

And I am sure that this is of equal importance for the current vocational courses to which the BBC article refers. Who takes these courses? Is it children who would otherwise not be engaged with education and who might stop attending school and fail to gain any qualifications? I would think this is the case for many, and for these children surely a vocational course such as these can only be a good thing.

Sure the courses might not lead to university, but let's be clear University is not right for everyone. The courses might not lead directly into a job, but that doesn't mean it has not developed the young person in a way which develops their skills and confidence for the work place.

I do not like society's current obsession with blind statistics and analysis, I feel it misses much of the benefits and issues around the measures; this is just one more area where a little common sense and understanding of circumstances might be more sensible.


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