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‘Downgrading vocational qualifications in schools threatens vital skills’

The EAL has condemned the cull of vocational qualifications from school league tables. More than 3,000 vocational qualifications regarded as equivalent to GCSEs in current league tables will be reduced to 125, with just 70 counting towards the main performance measure of five A* to C grades.

Ann Watson, Managing Director of EAL

The changes result from Professor Alison Wolf’s review of vocational education, and will impact 14-16 performance tables from 2014 onwards.

Ann Watson, Managing Director of EAL (pictured), a specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications, said: “The headlines made by this announcement are a huge blow to public perceptions of the vocational route. It is naïve to think the damage will be limited to those qualifications that will be absent from future league tables.

“Clearly, there is a need to provide young people with qualifications that open up opportunities for work and further study, and to ensure a sensible approach to equivalence between vocational qualifications and GCSEs. Unfortunately, the result of this cull will be to downgrade vocational qualifications en masse in the eyes of many young people and their parents. Government must take responsibility for reassuring learners already enrolled on vocational qualifications or those that are thinking of taking this pathway.

“It is a grave concern that qualifications like Performing Engineering Operations are suddenly less attractive for schools, because the government’s criteria deem them unfit for performance tables; this despite the great potential they offer for pupils to develop an interest in practical learning, secure jobs and progress in their learning to Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships.

“Vocational qualifications such as these are trusted by industry employers to provide vital skills for the workplace. We urge schools to look beyond the performance measures to assess their value for pupils.”

Government is inviting second submissions for the league tables by 6 February 2012.

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