From the introduction of free schools and the English Baccalaureate to a review of the National Curriculum and vocational qualifications, the coalition government has introduced a plethora of changes to the education system since it was formed in May 2010. But what does all of this really mean for today's learners?
At a recent seminar hosted by the Cambridge Assessment Network, John Brenchley, Senior Manager of Partnerships at OCR explained how the ‘less centralised’ approach being taken by the coalition has the potential to open up a wider range of suitable routes for young learners to take.
John said: “Although the coalition government has made it clear that the governance of schools and the quality of teaching are the most important factors, there has been a ceaseless flow of policy initiatives coming in.
Whilst it’s great to be responsive and reactive, it can be a little nerve-racking to see so many changes happening so quickly. However, it's a very exciting time for young learners who will be able to choose from a range of possible routes they can take in their locality – whether school, college, independent training provider, or into the workplace for a young apprenticeship. They will be able to follow the route that best suits them."
Some of the recent changes include:
- The reform of schools: the Academies Bill opened up the possibility of applying for Academy status to all schools; free schools which can be set up and governed by local community groups were introduced; and Universal Technical Colleges and Studio Schools were launched.
- The Wolf Review of 14-19 vocational education. The Government pledged to reform league tables and funding rules to “remove the perverse incentives that have devalued vocational education” and to allow established high-quality vocational qualifications that have not been accredited to be offered in schools and colleges.
- A national curriculum review led by Cambridge Assessment's Group Director of Assessment Research & Development Tim Oates. The curriculum is expected to be slimmed down and become knowledge-based to allow teachers, as experts, to decide how best to deliver their subjects.
- A review of Higher Education. The Government’s White Paper sets out its proposals for a higher education sector which is sustainably funded; delivers a better student experience; and contributes fully to the efforts to increase social mobility.
- Changes to qualifications. Diplomas in science and languages were abolished. GCSEs will change to a linear structure. Spelling, punctuation and grammar will be assessed across subjects. And Higher Education institutions will be better involved in the development of specifications.
- The first trialling of the English Baccalaureate.
- There are also changes to funding structures, consultations on skills for sustainable growth, a consultation on the exams regulator, Ofqual, and a reform of performance league tales. The Government confirmed its commitment to ensuring that 16 year olds will carry on in ‘full participation’ education.