New Technical Awards for teenagers in vocational shake-up

The BBC is reporting that new practical courses in subjects such as electronics and textiles will be available next year as part of a shake-up of vocational education in England…

From September 2015, 14- to 16-year-olds would be able to take Technical Awards alongside GCSEs, ministers said.

The new qualifications would be on a par with new GCSEs and would prepare young people for the world of work, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said.

The move follows concern from employers that youngsters lacked skills for work.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the new Technical Awards would give young people real-life practical and technical skills that could be the “starting point for their future careers”.

Teenagers will be able to study up to three of the awards alongside a minimum of five core GCSEs, including English and maths.

The DfE said in the past, practical qualifications had focused too heavily on “abstract theory”.

For example, in woodwork, teenagers will now measure, cut, joint and finish their own furniture, whereas previously they might have just studied the design of a piece of furniture.

In textiles, youngsters would now design and make an outfit using a range of techniques, and in electronics they could use motion-detectors, batteries and other equipment to wire movement-controlled lighting, rather than analysing a light to see how it worked, the DfE said…

The government has already announced plans to introduce new Tech-levels for sixth-formers, which are equivalent to an A-level course…

More at: New Technical Awards for teenagers in vocational shake-up

Your thoughts on these new Technical Awards and the apparent focus on ‘real-life’ practical skills? Are they a welcome addition? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. Janet2

    In the good old days of CSE, pupils took practical exams in woodwork, engineering, motor vehicle maintenance, typewriting, cookery etc.  When GCSEs were introduced most of these were examined but the emphasis gradually changed to make them more “academic”.  This ended up with woodwork, metalwork etc become D+T which skewed the balance too far to design and not manufacture.  Similarly with cookery – pupils spent weeks designing a pizza topping and marketing the finished “product” rather than cooking one.

    Typewriting, of course, disappeared when the manual typewriters were consigned to the skip.  But touch-typing (which I’m using now) is still an important skill.

    The answer is not to introduce another lot of exams at 16 (after dumping many vocational ones) but to scrap high-stakes exams at this age and ensure all pupils receive a broad, balanced education which could include cooking and making things.

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