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Sainsbury Review promises big shake up for Further Education

Friday 8 July 2016 NUS News

Today the government has published its post-16 Skills Planwhich proposes a huge overhaul to 16-19 vocational education. The Skills Plan is a direct response to Lord Sainsbury’s review of technical education.

There are a number of key changes proposed that the government want to implement, with teaching of these new ‘pathfinder’ routes by September 2019.

Over next week we will be providing an in depth look at what these changes will mean for students in FE, and we will be seeking your views and comments.

Our initial thoughts are that there are pros and cons to what has been proposed. We are disappointed to learn that students at the age of 16 will have to choose whether they want to take an academic or vocational educational path. Our research shows that 68 per cent of students think that 16 is too early to be making choices which will define their future career path.* However, we welcome the decision to streamline qualifications giving young people a clearer route through a to a career, although we have grave concerns that without a concerted effort from government and employers we are going to see compounded gender stereotyping in many of these areas. The ability for students to switch across vocational and traditionally academic qualifications at post 18 is a positive step which hopefully will mean those on a vocational route will be able to continue to study at a higher level in their chosen field if they so wish.

Additionally, given there is so much emphasis on apprenticeship delivery and work based placements the government still has a lot of work to do firstly ensuring there are adequate apprenticeships and placements available for young people and secondly that these are of high quality where the young person is learning in a supportive environment and not being exploited as cheap labour.

These reforms will have a lasting impact on the choices and opportunities of generations of young people. We expect BIS to put students at the heart of these changes through thorough consultation, and to continue this by formally embedding learner voice throughout all the new pathways.

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*NUS’s Informing the Reforms research cited above