Breaking the deadlock over academic selection 2

Selection at 11 is  frowned upon  but choice would be acceptable at 14. The Times (paywall) leads with a progress report on Kenneth Baker’s plan to revive technical colleges. The potential relevance to Northern Ireland is obvious.

Up to 70 technical schools teaching practical skills could be opened before the next election, according to Lord Baker of Dorking, the former Tory education secretary who is heading the scheme.

The coalition has pledged to open technical schools, with links to employers, in at least 12 cities across the country.

Plans were under way for five to open by next autumn, and between 12 and 20 by September next year, Baker said. One, sponsored by the plant machinery company JCB, had already opened in Staffordshire.

The Baker plan could dovetail with former Labour Education Secretary Estelle Morris’s recommendation for a GCSE – type exam at 14.

Baker’s plans are linked in the story with  former Education Secretary Estelle Morris’s claim that

 thousands more pupils would stay in school past the age of 16 if they took GCSEs at 14, with those more suited to practical courses starting to study them at that point.

They would be less likely to drop out of school or college, Morris told the North of England education conference in Blackpool yesterday.

The Labour peer, who was a teacher herself, joins a growing number of educationalists calling for GCSEs at 16 to be abolished.

Together these reforms could enhance the development of vocational skills while leaving a clear field open for academic subjects like the upper reaches of STEM, languages ancient and modern, and literature , while still encouraging cross over and flexibility. They would go part of the  way to meet the vision of  Anthony Seldon (head of Wellington College public school and biographer of Blair and Brown),  as described in Malcolm Goodfellow’s essay below my earlier post.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

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