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Thoughts from the Ed – ‘We don’t need no academic education’

Author : Paul Wolfe

Today is A-level results day in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and it doesn’t seem all that long ago when I picked up my GCSE results, and then two years later I collected my A-level results. In each case, I delayed opening the envelope for as long as possible. It was a classic ‘head in the sand’ approach, but I thought that if I didn’t know my results, I could live in ignorant bliss.

Paul Wolfe

But I did eventually tear open those envelopes and read down the list to take in the results that were printed there in front of me. The fruits of all that labour were on a sheet of paper and represented by a single letter.

I knew that I wanted to go on to study journalism but for those who don’t know what to do with their future, this is simultaneously an exciting and frankly rather scary time.

Apprenticeships are often mentioned in EP and this week in ‘Don’t let Government play politics with young people’s future’, Diane Johnson (Skills Ambassador for the Electrical Contractors’ Association) states that “Apprenticeships offer a bona fide alternative route to employment and have done so for decades.” That’s true and the importance of apprenticeships cannot be overlooked because they do offer a skill; a skill the country is in need of and will continue to need long into the future. You may have guessed from the title - a parody of a Pink Floyd lyric from their 1979 number one 'Another Brick in the Wall' - that what I'm saying here is that academic education isn't the be all and end all.  

The thing is, you can’t learn experience. Take driving for example. We all take lessons, sit the test and then we can wave a sheet of paper around proclaiming that we can drive competently. In the real world, you only start learning to drive after you’ve passed your test when you’re out there on the road. The experience of having those miles under your belt teaches you far more than a page of the Highway Code ever could. Getting out into the real world and getting hands on experience is the only way to learn and that’s how it is for apprentices. They can learn from a book, but learning by doing it yourself; now that’s something quite different.

What are your thoughts on this? Send an email to: to let me know.

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