Ofsted chief: stream pupils by ability at the age of 14

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.”

More at: Ofsted chief: stream pupils by ability at the age of 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…

 

[advpoll id=”61″ title=”Today’s Poll” width=””]

 

Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link!

Today's poll: Do students need a core text book for each subject?
Child sex abuse: Ofsted warning to councils
Categories: Secondary.

Comments

  1. birch_david

    cherrylkd SchoolsImprove How can this not be about selection as schools will compete to retain the ‘best’ pupils?

  2. ddubdrahcir

    . SchoolsImprove Academic/vocational streaming already happens: by class. When VET has better social/financial status, this might work.

  3. birch_david

    cherrylkd SchoolsImprove Yes, the idea assumes schools will collaborate nicely when every other aspect of Gov policy promotes competition

  4. bjpren

    JulesDaulby SchoolsImprove Just easier for the teachers? Class of 30 of similar ability? Forget high achieving SEN who need support….

  5. Janet2

    After the Trojan Horse investigations, Wilshaw asked for clarification about what a broad, balanced curriculum should contain.  Now he’s asking for that as yet unspecified curriculum to stop at 14.

    Most of the developed world has a broad, balanced curriculum to at least upper secondary (16).  It is disingenuous to suggest that Wilshaw’s suggestion isn’t selection but ‘maximum opportunity’.  Weasel words from Wilshaw.

  6. Janet2

    So, UTCs have been set up to teach children a ‘trade’, have they?  But aren’t they sold as the type of ‘maximum opportunity’ Wilshaw talks about – giving supposedly high-quality education combining ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’.  But one UTC (Hackney) opened in 2012 has already closed.  Others struggle with recruitment.  Their smaller cousins, Studio Schools, seem to have a disproportionate number of excluded children or ones moving from Alternative Provision.

    Wilshaw should stick to putting Ofsted in order (concerns re their inspection of child protection services, for example; putting in place Kershaw’s recommendations post B’Ham) before suggesting an overhaul in the way secondary education is organised.

  7. Janet2

    So, UTCs have been set up to teach children a ‘trade’, have they?  But aren’t they sold as the type of ‘maximum opportunity’ Wilshaw talks about – giving supposedly high-quality education combining ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’.  But one UTC (Hackney) opened in 2012 has already closed.  Others struggle with recruitment.  Their smaller cousins, Studio Schools, seem to have a disproportionate number of excluded children or ones moving from Alternative Provision.

    Wilshaw should stick to putting Ofsted in order (concerns re their inspection of child protection services, for example; putting in place Kershaw’s recommendations post B’Ham) before suggesting an overhaul in the way secondary education is organised.

  8. Janet2

    So, UTCs have been set up to teach children a ‘trade’, have they?  But aren’t they sold as the type of ‘maximum opportunity’ Wilshaw talks about – giving supposedly high-quality education combining ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’.  But one UTC (Hackney) opened in 2012 has already closed.  Others struggle with recruitment.  Their smaller cousins, Studio Schools, seem to have a disproportionate number of excluded children or ones moving from Alternative Provision.

    Wilshaw should stick to putting Ofsted in order (concerns re their inspection of child protection services, for example; putting in place Kershaw’s recommendations post B’Ham) before suggesting an overhaul in the way secondary education is organised.

  9. JulesDaulby

    bjpren SchoolsImprove
    Personally I’ve always found mixed ability easier than setting -(fewer behaviour issues and lots of peer to peer)

  10. bjpren

    JulesDaulby SchoolsImprove I have mixed feelings, interested & supported CYP always easier 2 teach whatever their abilities.

  11. Cherie59789095

    SchoolsImprove So here’s the thing. When did you peak in your lrg? At 5? 10? 14? 24? Or r you still working on it? If so, this is stupid.

  12. Cherie59789095

    SchoolsImprove When does anyone peak in their lrg? At 5? 10? 14? 24? Or r we all still working on it? If we R 2 stream at any age is wrong.

  13. TW

    So, “Students on either path would be free to access the specialist teaching available in the other and would not be stuck in one route”.

    Yeah, that would happen.

  14. TW

    So, “Students on either path would be free to access the specialist teaching available in the other and would not be stuck in one route”.

    Yeah, that would happen.

  15. lennyvalentino

    cherrylkd jordyjax SchoolsImprove This will not help close the attainment gap. Need to allow kids time to develop as learners.

  16. angelsoft_ICT

    SchoolsImprove O Good Grief. We’ll be using slates & having staff bring in wood to burn in cold weather at this rate!
    Oh. Hang about…

  17. amirshah316

    SchoolsImprove Selection will unfortunately be the only product of such action. Done by stealth no matter what is actually meant by it.

Let us know what you think...