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News - 6 March 2014

Labour plan new school leaver qualification

A new labour Government would introduce a new national Baccalaureate as a plan to tackle the one million teenagers out of employment, education and training.

It would consist of existing exams plus post-GCSE maths and English, skills training and an extended project, which would give equal value to both vocational and academic courses. They say this new 14-to-19 qualification for England would end the reputational divide between academic and vocational qualifications.

Tonmoy Kumar, Manager of the Accounts Department of ABDS and an active school governor comments:
“Currently many see academic qualifications, such as A-Levels, pitched against vocational ones because young people have to choose one route or the other. But under this school leaver's qualification they would be able to study a Technical Bacc based on an existing post-GCSE vocational qualification or a General Bacc based on A-levels as they stand. Either route would have the same value.”

Chris Husbands, chairman of the skills taskforce, said: "In Britain, we have a poor record of delivering high skills and effective qualifications for the forgotten 50%: the half of young people for whom the current qualifications regime simply does not deliver.

However, the funding for this project has yet to be finalised. One idea is for money to be held back from schools, then invested back into schools through partnerships with local business

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said: "And under Labour, all young people will study maths and English to 18."

Jan Hodges, chief executive of independent education charity, the Edge Foundation, said:
"The National Baccalaureate would recognise these skills and abilities alongside technical and vocational qualifications and A-levels. It would give all young people something to aim for, and act as a springboard to apprenticeships, higher education and careers."

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, welcomed much in the report, but added he was sceptical of the power of financial penalties to drive improvement because penalties may make it harder to correct problems.

The government has been talking about its own plans for vocational learning. Labours announcement comes as Education Secretary Michael Gove made a speech encouraging more employers to get involved in the national apprenticeship programme.

He also highlighted some of the government's reforms to vocational qualifications, saying he had begun the changes because he "wanted to take head on the idea that practical learning could never be as rigorous as academic".

If you need any help and advice with Free Schools, Academy Schools or Charities, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
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