‘Government should say more about how it will promote vocational routes’ says Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told the House of Lords Social Mobility Committee today that government should do more on promoting vocational routes.

He appeared in front of the committee flanked by his chief operating officer, Matthew Coffey (pictured below right), to give evidence on the role of the education watchdog in providing skills and employment opportunities for under-served groups of young people.

“We need to say a lot more about apprenticeships … perhaps government should say a lot more about what it is going to do to promote a strong vocational offer in schools and post-16, it’s not just up to Ofsted to say we’re going to do this,” said Sir Michael.

He added the fact that only 5 per cent of young people were going into apprenticeships, and only 3 per cent from disadvantaged backgrounds, was “a nonsense” that must be addressed.Coffey HLSMC

He also called on head teachers to make sure their students understood the opportunities outside the school and criticised some for encouraging learners to stay on into sixth form when other pathways might be better.

He added that employers also needed to “take ownership” and act as the “gatekeepers” for apprenticeships, saying that this would help to ensure that a high level of quality was maintained as progress was made towards achieving the government’s target of 3m new apprenticeships by 2020.

Sir Michael also commented on the role of local enterprise partnerships (Leps), saying that that they “vary very much in quality” and are sometimes perceived as “remote” by education providers.

The hearing comes just weeks after his report on apprenticeships was critical of government funding of the programme where learners were aged 25-plus and already employed.

See @FEWeek for live Twitter coverage from this morning’s hearing and also using the #HLSMC hashtag.


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  1. Hmmm – how the hell does he think health and social care learners will be funded? Only a small percentage are 19 to 24 – the vacancy rate is high enough and the educational opportunities poor enough for those who choose to work in the sector, without removing the last vestiges of a chance of gaining a qualification in an industry constantly criticised for the quality of care and support it offers – workers not sufficiently qualified to work with people with dementia for example. Go away, climb out yer ivory tower and start speaking to the staff actually delivering these qualifications and the workforce – they are far more expert than you love!