£300m wasted as third of teenagers drop out of A-levels

Almost a third of teenagers are dropping out of A-levels after being forced to sit “unsuitable” subjects, according to new research. This is from the Telegraph…

An estimated £300 million of taxpayers’ money is wasted each year paying for courses that sixth-formers fail to complete, it was revealed.

Research by the Policy Exchange think-tank said the drop-out rate was directly linked to the lack of high-quality technical and vocational courses for teenagers.

It said more teenagers needed to be given the chance to take practical on-the-job training as an alternative to academic subjects.

A YouGov poll of 1,624 people – published as part of the report – found that almost half the public thought there was too much focus on academic subjects at school at the expense of practical, job-related qualifications. Only a fifth thought the balance was right.

The conclusions come despite Government plans to introduce a new measure into official league tables this week – counting the number of pupils gaining good A-levels in academic subjects at each school and college.Dr Owen Corrigan, Policy Exchange research fellow and the report’s author, said an alternative technical route through the education system “could benefit the many students whose needs are not currently being met, as well as employers who complain about skills shortages especially in science and technology areas”.

He added: “Everyone should, of course, have the opportunity to study at university regardless of their background.

“However, vocational and technical studies should not be seen as inferior or second best.

“That means ensuring that the technical and vocational options on offer are of the highest quality, allowing us to produce the next generation of technicians, to better prepare students for the world of work, and to better meet the needs of both students and business.”

Almost 300,000 teenagers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently do A-levels each year.

But the study estimated that 31 per cent of young people drop out of their studies, with a suggestion that “vocationally-oriented programmes of study may be more suitable for them”.

It was claimed that young people who are “disengaged from education” comprise 11 to 33 per cent of each cohort.

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