What do you want to know


The new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would have liked to reform post-16 education with a new “British Baccalaureate”.

So what do we know about the policy and how likely is it to materialize?

Schools week has everything you need to know…

1. English and maths compulsory until the 18th, but 🤷 on the rest

Calls for some kind of Baccalaureate to replace GCSEs or A levels have been around for some time.

The National Baccalaureate Trust published detailed plans earlier this year which would see pupils study English and maths until they are 18, but also personal development and research projects, such as the Duke of Edinburgh.

Think tank EDSK has proposed a new three-year bachelor’s degree to replace A, BTEC and T levels. EDSK headmaster Tom Richmond said that while the government was “serious about boosting technical education, it must put an end to the political obsession with A levels”.

There’s not much meat in Sunak’s proposed policy yet. It was one of the policies he pushed forward during his failed leadership bid earlier this year.

Sunak said a new ‘British Baccalaureate’ would require all pupils to continue studying core subjects like English and maths in year six.

Asked at the time, his campaign would not provide a comprehensive list of topics.

Two problems: the government is already struggling to recruit enough math teachers, so it should come up with a plan to recruit more.

The second is money: post-16 education has seen the biggest funding cuts of any area of ​​education.

The UK Baccalaureate policy was one of the main proposals of the recent Times Education Commission, which called for “wider academic and professional qualifications at 18, with equal funding per pupil in both tracks, and a range of reduced exams at 16 years old. bring out the best in every child.

2. Plans are part of the vocational education push

The Times reported a Downing Street source saying Sunak believed that if there was “one magic bullet in public policy” that would improve lives, it would be investment in education and skills. “It is an absolute priority for the Prime Minister,” the newspaper reports.

But the focus is on bringing vocational education to the forefront of policy, the newspaper added.

Former skills minister Gillian Keegan, who left school at 16 to do an apprenticeship, has been appointed education secretary to oversee the campaign.

Before it was announced he would return as Skills Minister, Rob Halfon told The Times that the new Bachelor’s degree would see students ‘having a much wider curriculum so they get the skills they need and what employers want.

He said Sunak was “in favor of vocational education because he understands that to improve productivity, we need to improve skills.” Halfon has long called for a baccalaureate system to “ensure students can access skills and vocational education as well as academic learning”.

3. But there are big obstacles: time and Nick Gibb

A big stumbling block to introducing any major new education reforms is time – the current government essentially has two years to push through changes before a general election.

Current students starting A-levels last month will not complete their courses until the summer of 2024, so such reforms would certainly take longer.

This could potentially mean the next two years are used to shape the plans, with it becoming one of the Conservative government’s key election promises for education in 2024.

But, there is still a likely stalemate: the return of schools minister Nick Gibb – a staunch defender of traditional education who has spearheaded education reform, based on these principles, for most of the past decade.

A move from university studies after age 16 to a more professional orientation is unlikely to gain his support.

As one political pundit put it, “I don’t see Gibb signing off A-levels before an election.”

For a change, the Conservative government’s proposal would probably get the support of the unions.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the government also needs to be “more flexible in allowing and supporting a choice of subjects students can study before age 16, which includes teaching technical and professional.


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