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.

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  1. Neil Stockton

    I support almost everything that is said in defence of vocational qualifications in this article and of students being given a choice. I run a Level 3 BTEC Film & Television Production course from which 90+% of students progress to university. It really winds me up that people continually talk about vocational qualifications as being a ‘non-university’ route. No wonder schools, parents and, particularly, young people are getting the wrong message. The kind of students we get are those who have decided that this is the industry they want to work in and they want to dedicate their time to this end and where a few hours of Media Studies a week just won’t do.
    There are plenty of ‘vocational’ degree qualifications in all sorts of subjects out there and not everybody wants to do PPE at Oxford. In my view, the biggest enemy of vocational qualifications is the current government and their decimation of an education sector that they see very little value in.

  2. Lin West

    Vocational qualifications have been around since the eighties and it still amuses me about the number of people who know nothing about these excellent routes to career development. I deliver Health and Social Care Diplomas,in a further education college in kent.
    I have been delivering these courses for fifteen years to carers who have never had the opportunity to develop themselves since leaving school at the age of fifteen. The difficulty with the qualification is that the learner will only ever be as good as the assessor who supports them, and unfortunately, there are some less than qualified assessors offering information and guidance on the awards. I am not sure whether it is ignorance or snobbery that prevents diplomas rating the same as university courses, but i am sure that without them i would not be sitting here replying to this artical.