UK Labour Wants More Work Experience, EBacc Changes

The UK Labour party intends to reinstate a mandatory two week work placement before the end of school that had been made optional by the government, and the party also intends to get rid of the Coalition’s English Baccalaureate, reports Graeme Paton of The Telegraph.

Leading the review is Professor Chris Husbands, director of the University of London’s Institute of Education. He wants to work to turn things around for the “forgotten 50 percent” of students who don’t end up attending 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.

The reforms include requiring all students through the age of 18 to study English and math through GCSEs, A-levels or other qualifications to raise standards in the three Rs, reversing a government decision and introducing a requirement for independent career advice and an overhaul of apprenticeships to more accurately tie them to specific career sectors.

More reforms are being planned for the 14-16 phase since Labour thinks that is the critical time during which the Coalition is failing to prepare students 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.”

Twigg is also adamant that the EBacc will be removed. Currently it ranks schools by the proportion of students that earn at least a C grade GCSE in five subjects: English, math, science, foreign languages and either history or geography. Twigg says it has a negative effect on the arts and engineering since they get pushed to the side.

“[The EBacc] is at best an irrelevance and in some cases it is distorting young people’s choices so they are not doing things that are best for fulfilling their potential,” he said.