Vocational qualifications: ‘a great idea for other people’s children’

A new review of vocational qualifications

The BBC reports on Education Secretary Michael Gove’s announcement of an independent review of vocational qualifications for students aged 14 to 19 in England.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said the government wanted qualifications in practical subjects to be more “hands on”. The number of vocational qualifications taken has risen fast in recent years.

But critics say schools push weaker pupils to do courses of little benefit to them, to boost league table scores.

Professor Alison Wolf, an expert on education and skills from Kings’ College London, is to head the review. It will look at “ways to improve vocational education’s organisation and responsiveness to a changing labour market, and to ensure vocational education is progressing young people to the next stage,” the Department for Education said.

Professor Wolf is an obvious choice to lead this. In her fascinating 2002 book, Does Education Matter?, she has a lot to say (not much of it positive) about vocational qualifications and NVQs in particular which she observes pointedly are ‘a great idea for other people’s children’. Let’s hope we do better this time.


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