Page last updated at 23:04 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 00:04 UK

Teenagers' learning 'too narrow'

exam room
The long-running review has looked at 14-19 learning in England and Wales

Wales is making a better job than England of educating teenagers, a major review of learning has concluded.

The English government's vision of learning is too narrow says the review, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

It calls for a broader view of education focused on the "whole person" rather than academic success or "skills for economic prosperity".

It argues for a Welsh Bacc-type system rather than the English route of GCSE/A-level, Diplomas and Apprenticeships.

The report argues that learners and teachers are put off by the jargon of performance management, with its outputs, targets, indicators and audits.

It says qualifications are trying to serve too many different assessment purposes and should be streamlined.

The lead author of the report, Professor Richard Pring of Oxford University, said: "There's a need for a much broader view of education and educational achievement.

"We need to look at why some young people are turned off, why they have both a sense of failure and are called failures. We have a very narrow view of what it is to be successful.

"We need a much broader vision of what it is to be a successful learner."

The report says that the current qualifications system in England is based around the needs of pupils who will be aiming for university - rather than less academic pupils.

"Those who are left behind are ill served," says the report, with little value attached to vocational qualifications.

"This polarisation of the labour market proceeds apace and the education system seems to have little to offer to ameliorate this process," the report says.

A spokeswoman for England's Department for Children, Schools and Families said it was vital that young people remain in education and training beyond the age of 16 to gain the qualifications and skills they needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive labour market, and more were doing so.

"We disagree that the curriculum has been narrowed - teachers and schools have the freedom to adapt the curriculum for their pupils, and young people have a greater choice of qualifications than ever before with stronger GCSEs and A-levels and Diplomas now offering a high-quality alternative."



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