Poor information on vocational courses given to students

A third of pupils have never been presented with the option of taking up a vocational course, according to research published ahead of Vocational Qualification Day.

The independent education foundation Edge surveyed 500 A Level students and found that 77 per cent were even discouraged from pursuing a vocational path. Almost a quarter thought their school was more concerned with sending students to university than concentrating on what is right for the individual.

Jan Hodges, chief executive of Edge, which is leading the plans for Vocational Qualification (VQ) Day said it is “extremely disappointing” that so many young learners felt they lacked sufficient information about all opportunities available.

“There are many paths to success in life and work,” she said. “University is not a one size fits all solution and the government has a duty to educate schools and teachers further about the benefits of VQs and vocational routes, such as apprenticeships.”

“We must reject the snobbery that says the only route to social moblilty is through university”

The fifth annual VQ Day is calling on the government to supply teachers with thorough information on the benefits of vocational routes. Last year’s event saw more than 300 schools, colleges and work-based providers get involved.

The survey also found that over a quarter of students interviewed had been told that VQs were aimed at pupils who were less bright.

On Monday Ed Miliband spoke about the “snobbery” that exists towards non-academic education.

“Social mobility can’t just be about changing the odds that young people from poor backgrounds will make it to university,” he said.

“We must reject the snobbery that says the only route to social moblilty is through university, as if only one kind of path to success matters.”

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has been lobbying Ofsted to include impartial advice on vocational qualifications in school inspections.

The chief executive of the organisation, Graham Hoyle, said: “Schools will be required by law from this September to offer impartial advice to their students from an external independent advisory service and it will not be enough to simply refer the students to a careers website.

“The big concern is that checks won’t be made to see if schools are complying with the new statutory guidance unless Ofsted inspectors are given a role to play in overcoming the remaining stigma against vocational learning.

“Recent commitments from ministers are reassuring and it’s important that their determination to see compliance is fully followed through wherever problems are identified.”

The event will be held at the Bafta Picaddilly June 20.