The Telegraph is reporting that Sir Michael Wilshaw has proposed that schoolchildren should be streamed at the age of 14 as part of a “fundamental shift” in the education system…
Pupils should transfer between schools before sitting their GCSEs depending on their aptitude for an academic or vocational education, said Sir Michael Wilshaw.
In a major speech, he suggested that a new form of streaming should be introduced half-way through secondary education to give pupils access to specialist teaching and properly prepare them for the world of work.
The move is likely to draw parallels to the post-war education system in which pupils were split between grammar schools, secondary moderns and technical schools.
But Sir Michael insisted his recommendation “isn’t about selection” but is focused on “maximum opportunity at 14”.
He said that schools should form into local “clusters” centred around a top-performing school or college, with at least one institution specialising in advanced vocational qualifications. A new wave of University Technical Colleges (UTCs) has already been set up to teach children a trade from the age of 14.
Pupils could then “transfer across institutions in the cluster to provide a route to high-level academic or vocational study”.
The comments were made in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry in Coventry…
He said some groups of state schools and colleges in England had already clustered together – sharing teachers and ideas – and insisted this “trend to federation should be encouraged”.
“Wouldn’t it be good if at least one of the schools in the cluster had particularly strong vocational provision from 14, perhaps in a UTC or a specialist college?” he said.
“Young people could then transfer across institutions in the cluster to provide a route to high-level academic or vocational study.
“Pupils at all the schools in the cluster would have access to high-quality vocational training from 14, including those who are typically deemed ‘academic high achievers’.
“Students on either path would be free to access the specialist teaching available in the other and would not be stuck in one route. Let me stress this isn’t about selection at 14 – it’s about maximum opportunity at 14.”
What do you make of Sir Michael’s comments here? Is there merit in the idea of local clusters of secondary schools, with at least one specialising in vocational provision? And what about the idea of streaming then happening at the age of 14 (presumably end of year 9) with students moving across the cluster as appropriate? Is this grammar schools under a different name or something new and different? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
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