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Pupils 'should Study English And Maths Until Aged 19'

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Teenagers who fail to achieve good GCSE grades at English and maths will have to carry on studying the subjects beyond the age of 16.

This has been announced as the government accepts Alison Wolf's report on improving vocational education.

Professor Wolf was critical of the quality of skills being taught to many youngsters in the 16 to 19 age group.

"Good qualifications in English and maths are what employers demand," said Education Secretary Michael Gove.

There will also be changes to school league tables to show the spread of high and low achieving pupils.

Professor Wolf's report expressed her concern that too many teenagers are leaving school without adequate basic skills.

Education Secretary Michael Gove endorsed the report, which called for greater honesty in the information for students about the value of vocational courses.

"For too long the vocational education system has been devalued by attempts to pretend that all qualifications are intrinsically the same. Young people have taken courses that have led nowhere," said Mr Gove.

'Dead end'

In response, Professor Wolf said: "For 20 years we have toyed around with vocational education but succeeded only in creating a bureaucratic and expensive system that limits the life chances of too many young people."

Professor Wolf had warned that hundreds of thousands of teenagers were being consigned to low-quality "dead end" vocational courses, when they really needed the type of basic skills in literacy and numeracy required by employers.

"The staple offer for between a quarter and a third of the post-16 cohort is a diet of low-level vocational qualifications, most of which have little to no labour market value," said the Wolf Report.

Last summer 45% of 16-year-olds failed to achieve a C grade at GCSE maths and English, and Professor Wolf wants such youngsters to continue studying these basic subjects.

“Good levels of English and mathematics continue to be the most generally useful and valuable vocational skills on offer”

The government has accepted the call for students to continue with English and maths, up until the age of 18.

This will aim to bring all pupils up to at least a C grade at GCSE, but for pupils who cannot achieve this the government is proposing "high-quality alternatives", which will be identified after a consultation.

While arguing that the system of vocational qualifications was "complex and opaque", Professor Wolf said that in practice "good levels of English and mathematics continue to be the most generally useful and valuable vocational skills on offer".

This emphasis on literacy and numeracy was welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry's director for education and skills, Susan Anderson.

"We welcome the announcement that young people who didn't get A*-C English and maths GCSEs will now be supported to achieve this benchmark by 19. These subjects are essential for work," she said.

The CBI recently warned that many employers were unhappy with the levels of literacy and numeracy among school leavers.

Professor Wolf's review also called for the end of "perverse incentives" in school league tables - with some pupils being steered towards vocational exams which would improve school rankings.

She warned against "incentives for schools to pile up large numbers of qualifications".

Exam league tables are to be expanded to show more information about the spread of a schools results, showing how the most and least able pupils are performing.

This addresses the concern that the current rankings - based on how many pupils achieve five GCSEs grade A* to C - encourage schools to focus too much attention on borderline pupils who could be pushed to achieve a C grade.

"If you have a single measure, which is the only thing that anybody cares about, it has absolutely appalling effects because people game it and they only care about the people around the margin," Professor Wolf told the education select committee last month.

Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham welcomed the proposals to improve English and maths skills.

But he warned that the government's introduction of a new league table measure - the English Baccalaureate - risked creating the kind of distortion that was being criticised in the current rankings.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the English Baccalaureate "reinforces the idea that anything other than a traditional academic route is the poor relation".

"Yet again we hear the tired old assertion that vocational courses presently offered are the easy option for schools and students. This is simply not the case," she said.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, warned that the government's promotion of university technical colleges could push young people into "irrevocable" choices at the age of 14.

Hmm. Why do our taxes have to pay for kids to learn for two more years what they are supposed to have been taught at the age of 16?

Pure job creation, and social welfare deferment.

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Hmm. Why do our taxes have to pay for kids to learn for two more years what they are supposed to have been taught at the age of 16?

Pure job creation, and social welfare deferment.

It sounds like a pretty good investment to me. The alternative is that they lack basic skills so much that they end up on the dole and then we have to pay for their upkeep for the rest of their lives. That's not mentioning the human and social side of it of course which are just as important.

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It sounds like a pretty good investment to me. The alternative is that they lack basic skills so much that they end up on the dole and then we have to pay for their upkeep for the rest of their lives. That's not mentioning the human and social side of it of course which are just as important.

A decade ago I'd agree with this but then they weren't really going up against a billion Indians & Chinese youngsters who are just as bright and probably more hungry. Seems pointless now.

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A decade ago I'd agree with this but then they weren't really going up against a billion Indians & Chinese youngsters who are just as bright and probably more hungry. Seems pointless now.

If you just give up on them you'll end up paying for it dearly though.

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Hmm. Why do our taxes have to pay for kids to learn for two more years what they are supposed to have been taught at the age of 16?

Pure job creation, and social welfare deferment.

If they skipped/bunked off school up to the age of 16, what can keep them there to 19?... ;)

....some kids require a different way of learning....conventional schools don't work for them.

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how about we start sacking teachers in schools wherepupils don't achieve the standard?

that would sharpen minds.

Because our education system is based on the start of the industrial revolution, it hasnt changed in structure or servant and master roles, its pre historic and needs changing.

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I'd settle for three years critical thinking instead. But then, it will never happen as the last thing the supermarkets and their government want is a population capable of independent reasoning.

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It sounds like a pretty good investment to me. The alternative is that they lack basic skills so much that they end up on the dole and then we have to pay for their upkeep for the rest of their lives. That's not mentioning the human and social side of it of course which are just as important.

Insyead they will end up on the dole but hip to Thackery, calculus and what a gerund is. Hopefully they will then be frustrated enough at the compulsary checkout placement to want to steal from their chain store employers though.

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Days gone by and kids needed to be able to count how many limbs they lost in the mines and mills.

Now, kids need to count our the right amount of change at the checkout, or how many ASBO's they've racked up, or a whole multitude of important mathematical measures....

To you smart ones who breeze through our ridiculously easy British public education system, disregard all the above.

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I recently did some classroom observations in secondary schools as I was considering becoming a teacher. It's completely changed my mind on these things. Compulsory education should end at 14, and free education should be provided to 14-18 year olds who meet some kind of academic minimum standard. There is no point keeping people in a classroom who don't want to be there or are not capable of handling the material. It winds them up, they become disruptive, the teacher ends up spending all their time on discipline instead of teaching.

However, basic numeracy and literacy evening classes should be provided for free to anybody over 14 who wants them.

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Silly idea, and one that belies the failure of education.

There have been and will always be kids who don't do well academically. Previously there were options for them: unskilled work or apprenticeships. Some would go on to do alright for themselves, others would get by and find their place in society as maturer adults - or not.

This idea smacks of panic, there aren't enough jobs, especially the kind that the less educated and lower skilled might go into. Keeping kids on might be good politically but is it good for the underachievers or the mainstream pupils who need to learn.

Quantity over quality in education does not a successful economy make.

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Silly idea, and one that belies the failure of education.

There have been and will always be kids who don't do well academically. Previously there were options for them: unskilled work or apprenticeships. Some would go on to do alright for themselves, others would get by and find their place in society as maturer adults - or not.

This idea smacks of panic, there aren't enough jobs, especially the kind that the less educated and lower skilled might go into. Keeping kids on might be good politically but is it good for the underachievers or the mainstream pupils who need to learn.

Quantity over quality in education does not a successful economy make.

The problem we have, if you want to call it a problem is that pretty much everyone can do pretty much everything to one degree or another IF they start out at a similar place and get a similar education.

Given theres only so many "top jobs" actually handing out such an education will cause headaches to those in the top jobs....who are the guys and gals deciding on the design of the education system.

And so the ecucation system is designed to make people ******wits. The stupider you are the better you are at learning from your environment, in fact. Stupid kids produced by education are really the brightest.

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However, basic numeracy and literacy evening classes should be provided for free to anybody over 14 who wants them.

Kids that leave school lacking basic numeracy and literacy are: suffering from a learning disability, domestic physical/mental/sexual abuse, have substance addition problems.

They (basic courses) are available across the country, via the internet, plus there are still public libraries in Britain.

When you've got people like Salman Khan, of the Khan Academy out there, giving excellent 10 minute long lectures and lessons in just about any subject, for free, on his own time, because he cares about education, it makes you wonder what the teachers of Britain, and the entire western education system are up to.

Plus you've got MathTV, Dony Lee, and even MIT offering full degree courses online, for free with MIT Opencourseware

Maybe it's a bit more of the maths which I've put up, but as an engineer I am biased.

Edited by cashinmattress

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education, education, education.

GCSEs weren't exactly challenging even when I did them in the 90s and that was before grade inflation. It shouldn't take from the ages of 5-16 to prepare a child for the GCSE in English and Maths.

Schools are only there to look after your children so you can go out to work and pay taxes. It is the parents responsibility to ensure their children are capable of learning subjects that interest them. Teach any child to read, speak a foreign language and play a musical instrument from an early age and they will thrive in other subjects.

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Like other countries, the UK has poured billions into education.

And what has it to show for it - as in, what do we know about education and what works?

For my experience, 70% of teachers are c r a p. They'd walk into lessons -no material, no preparation and try and wing it.

That just does not work.

My big breakthrough, which I stumbled on when I was 18 was to find a good few books on a subject and use that; keep the class based teaching as secondary.

Sites like amazon give a good trial for new material.

Think about it - a lot of thought goes into a book. The text is widely reviewed then it is read by 1000s.

Compare that to a teachers notes - if any exist - the only person who sees them are the teacher; no review by peers, no comments.

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Like other countries, the UK has poured billions into education.

And what has it to show for it - as in, what do we know about education and what works?

For my experience, 70% of teachers are c r a p. They'd walk into lessons -no material, no preparation and try and wing it.

That just does not work.

My big breakthrough, which I stumbled on when I was 18 was to find a good few books on a subject and use that; keep the class based teaching as secondary.

Sites like amazon give a good trial for new material.

Think about it - a lot of thought goes into a book. The text is widely reviewed then it is read by 1000s.

Compare that to a teachers notes - if any exist - the only person who sees them are the teacher; no review by peers, no comments.

We have the best education system in the world and it's doing exactly what it is designed to do.

It's just that what it is designed to do is not what the PR says.

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My memory of classed based learning was a lot of copying stuff off a black board. Then we got hand outs, off a Roneo machine which smelt funny. Maybe today they copy off an interactive white board.

Be interesting to go back to school now with access to the computers and the internet.

I wonder what happened to Gordon Brown's free laptops for poorer kids. Or was that just a policy initiative?

Edited by Sir John Steed

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We have the best education system in the world and it's doing exactly what it is designed to do.

It's just that what it is designed to do is not what the PR says.

I guess.

From my experience of signing on (91ish, 4 weeks), the Job centre is for keeping half-wits in employment. I doubt finding jobs for the unemployed comes 4th in their lists of priorities.

State education is primarily about keeping teachers in jobs and voting Labour.

Same as the NHS. Patients come waaaay down the list.

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My memory of classed based learning was a lot of copying stuff off a black board. Then we got hand outs, off a Roneo machine which smelt funny. Maybe today they copy off an interactive white board.

Be interesting to go back to school now with access to the computers and the internet.

I wonder what happened to Gordon Brown's free laptops for poorer kids. Or was that just a policy initiative?

Are Roneo machines those early years photocopiers, where the copies come of with faint purple text and stinking like a meths drinking tramp?

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Silly idea, and one that belies the failure of education.

There have been and will always be kids who don't do well academically.

BUT everyone considered above sub-human should be able to read, write and do basic maths.

The sort of stuff most of us would imagine a child leaving primary school should be capable of.

Don't let them leave primary school until they have met these standards.

Ok, so when you have 30 year olds sat on tiny chairs they'll look a bit silly... but it makes sense.

Secondary education should be just that - secondary to a sound basis of primary education.

You can not run before you can walk.

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BUT everyone considered above sub-human should be able to read, write and do basic maths.

The sort of stuff most of us would imagine a child leaving primary school should be capable of.

Don't let them leave primary school until they have met these standards.

Ok, so when you have 30 year olds sat on tiny chairs they'll look a bit silly... but it makes sense.

Secondary education should be just that - secondary to a sound basis of primary education.

You can not run before you can walk.

I come from the NE. At the local school 30% of the kids are what I would have called easter levaers. Years ago, they would have gone to low pay jobs. Now, they just bunk off and sign on with bad backs. The local authority is always bemoaning about 'low educational achievement' In my opinion, they ought to scrap benfits unless the person has a a-c passin english and maths - differentiate between unemployed and unemplyable. The biggest shocker is that the local 'grunt' employee has to employ quite a few Poles. Its nuts.

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