Labour: make work experience compulsory and axe ‘EBacc’

Compulsory work experience will be reintroduced in schools under a Labour plan to get teenagers ready for the jobs market, the Daily Telegraph has learnt. This is from the Telegraph…

The party is planning to reverse a Government decision to make two-week work placements an optional requirement before the end of school, it emerged.

Shadow ministers admitted that too many placements in the past involved “making tea and doing the photocopying” but insisted that high-quality work experience was vital.

It was also revealed that Labour is proposing to scrap the Coalition’s English Baccalaureate – a school league table measure that rewards pupils for gaining good GCSEs in a range of academic subjects – amid claims it “distorts” children’s’ options and stops them studying the arts and engineering.

The disclosure is made before the publication on Tuesday of an interim report commissioned by the party into the future of 14-to-19 education, vocational qualifications and skills training.

Prof Chris Husbands, director of the University of London’s Institute of Education, is leading the review amid concerns over education for the “forgotten 50 per cent “ of schoolchildren who fail to go on to university.

Speaking before the publication, Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary, said there was currently a “massive gap in this country between the world of education and the world of work” and a number of key reforms were being considered by the party in attempt to bridge the divide.

It will coincide with the raising of the education leaving age to 17 from this September and 18 in 2015. This includes:

• Requiring all teenagers to study English and maths up to the age of 18 through GCSEs, A-levels or other qualifications to raise standards in the three-Rs;

• Introducing a requirement for independent careers advice – reversing a Government decision to devolve the function directly to schools – because of fears schools with sixth-forms are steering pupils towards A-levels over other options such as apprenticeships and further education colleges;

• An overhaul of apprenticeships to tie them more accurately to specific careers sectors.

But some of the most high-profile reforms are being planned for the 14-to-16 phase where Labour claim the Coalition is failing to prepare children for the workplace.

Last year, the Government dropped a requirement for compulsory work experience placements as part of a review into vocational education by Prof Alison Wolf, from King’s College London.

Mr Twigg said it should be reinstated in some form but insisted the length of placements had yet to be decided, adding: “The quality of it varied. Certainly there were cases where people were in a workplace just making a cup of tea and doing the photocopying, but actually there were also brilliant examples of workplaces that did it really, really well. Giving young people that chance to see a real workplace is really fantastic and if anything two weeks isn’t enough.”

But a Government source said Mr Twigg backed the Wolf report, adding: “Either he doesn’t know what is in the Wolf report or he is being hypocritical for political gain.”

Mr Twigg also said the so-called EBacc would be scrapped. It currently ranks schools by the proportion of pupils gaining at least a C grade GCSE in five disciplines – English, maths, science, foreign languages and either history or geography.

But he said it had a “negative effect in areas like creatively and engineering, which get put to the fringes”.

More at:  Labour: make work experience compulsory and axe ‘EBacc’

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