Skills Commission Puts Spotlight on Below Average Academic Attainment
The Skills Commission released a new report today putting a spotlight on young people with below average academic attainment.
The report, which was sponsored by the Skills and Education Group, seeks to raise the profile of the many young people who do not achieve five A* to C grades at GCSE. It also highlights concerns that the “traditional” academic route of completing A-Levels between the ages of 16 and 18 is leading to the undervaluing of technical and professional education by policymakers.
The headlines of the Spotlight report are
- More than 46% of 16 to 18 year olds in all schools in 2015 were unable to achieve the Government benchmark of five A* to C grades including English and maths
- This accounts for around 270,000 learners
- The impact of not achieving the benchmark can be detrimental to young people’s self-esteem, and in the long term can affect an individual’s employment and earnings prospect
- Learners with below average academic attainment usually pursue routes in further education and in-work training
- More than 90% of young people will be studying towards GCSEs by their 16th birthday
- In 2015 less than 40% of the GCSE cohort was entered for EBacc subjects
- A greater proportion of those retaking English and maths GCSEs failed to achieve a C grade or above than those who did
- Only 14% of young people heard about their dream career from a careers advisor, and 30% learnt about it at school
- Funding for full-time students aged 18 and above is 17.5% less than for students aged 16 and 17
The Skills Commission is concerned that in order to achieve the government’s ambition of almost all students taking the EBacc, schools will need to make changes to departmental budgets, risking a narrowing of the curriculum with limited access to creative and technical subjects.
The report says:
“Breadth of curriculum is vital in engaging learners and ensuring that the system works for all young people, regardless of their various learning preferences, providing them with strong foundations for the pursuit of further learning and development whether it be academic, technical, professional or vocational.”
It thus recommends that the government considers broader performance measures which include an art or tech based subject in the EBacc suite. The fifteen recommendations put forward by the report also include:
- a post-16 modular GCSE for learners retaking English and maths GCSEs
- additional support for FE providers to fully meet the needs of 16 to 18 learners with below average academic attainment
- improving careers information, advice and guidance for young people
- more flexible transition frameworks which recognise learners’ different rates of development
The full report can be read here.