So Adonis is meddling in education affairs again is he? The last time I was aware of this unelected Labour peer was when he created Academies as part of his role within the Department of Education. That role was secured after he donated a big cash gift to the Labour party which very coincidentally timed precisely with his elevation to peer of the realm.
From his seat in the House of Lords Adonis could meddle with education, and latterly transport, as he wished. Luckily for us, as an ex FT journalist, Adonis has no experience whatsoever to support his ideologies.
So as we wait for the damage caused by the ticking time bomb of his academies proposal to come to fruition, Adonis has thrown another bold idea into the mix.
Apparently he would like a vocational alternative to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), which is comprised of English, Maths, Science and some other subjects considered core and academic by Gove. This is to provide opportunities for students who would rather study Art, ICT or PE to gain an equivalent qualification.
I have no issue with this in principle but I would rather that students weren’t hindered by the EBacc but were instead allowed to study their own choice of subjects from a narrow selection. English and Maths should be compulsory and perhaps Science as well, but a core set of knowledge from the science syllabus to do with human biology, medicine and chemistry with real world applications not stuff that isn’t applicable to everyday life.
Having seen the great mistake that is the BTEC qualification, which holds no academic rigour and is essentially coursework prescriptively directed by the teacher, I don’t see how encouraging another branch off from the norm is useful.
The skills that students need to progress in any industry, from what I’ve experienced in business and schools, is a good level of English and Maths. Anything else is only necessary for specialised industries or job roles. So therefore why not only regiment these vital skills and then let students choose their own points of interest around these. With just these basic subjects students then leave themselves open to a wide array of career options and life choices.
I think there is a real danger in overcomplicating the syllabus, in Gove’s case to try and bring back a 1950s ideal of teaching and in Adonis’, a modernised viewpoint of the future. As a soon to be full time teacher all I want is a simple system which provides students with the flexibility to succeed, follow their interests and leave school with the greatest number of options available to them.
Of course, we need to differentiate between the brightest, to determine which students will go on to further academic education and those better suited for vocational routes but this should be left as late as possible. We don’t want to be directing 14 year old kids into the careers they’ll be engaged in for the next 50 years. There are better methods.
Let’s do away with this over structured framework and let kids succeed with the subjects that interest them the most.