Wednesday, 15 September 2010

At Long Last!

Little was said yesterday about Michael Gove's decision to introduce technical schools. It's a decision I very much welcome and it's long overdue.

Pupils, when they reach 14, will be able to quit mainstream comprehensives to study at specialist centres or technical schools. The plan is said to be a revival of the secondary technical schools which thrived in the 40s and 50s when pupils were able to choose a practical education. This new generation will be backed by universities and will also teach core academic subjects as well as vocational courses.

Today, so many of our young who want to study technical subjects, engineering or craftwork are denied the choice in comprehensives and pupils have to wait until they gain access to college or university before they can begin to get to grips with their desired subject. Finally a politician has woken up and realised the wasted years some have in the present education system.

Michael Gove said 12 University Technical Colleges (technical schools) would be set up in England, with a minimum of one in each major city. The coalition will also conduct a wider review of vocational education which will be led by Professor Alison Wolf of King's College, London. It will examine the range and content of qualifications available as well as comparing courses offered in England with vocational education in other developed countries.

Nations such as Germany have invested heavily in such schools since the 1950s and the results are obvious. Germany is known world-wide for the quality of engineers and technicians they produce and that is due, in no small part, to children being able to study subjects which attract their interest in schools designed for the purpose.

The first UTC will open in Aston in 2012, specialising in engineering and manufacturing and backed by Aston University, Birmingham.

The ever-negative general secretary of the NUT, Christine Blower, said: "Attempting to separate technical or vocational education from mainstream schools will lead to a two-tier system with technical schools being seen as the poor cousin." What nonsense.

This new development in certainly one to watch and I can but hope politicians in Scotland will be keeping a close eye on the project too. For far too long we've neglected a large section of the younger generation by insisting they learn subjects we think they should learn, when we all know that the we absorb information far better when interest is the prime motivator.


Mummylonglegs said...

The ever-negative general secretary of the NUT, Christine Blower, said: "Attempting to separate technical or vocational education from mainstream schools will lead to a two-tier system with technical schools being seen as the poor cousin."

I can tell you why she has spouted this rubbish. It will lead to less funding, and less places to hide for those poor teachers we were talking about.

This system is already in place. What happens is this. A child is disruptive etc. He/she gets expelled from various schools, even after they have been labelled 'special needs'. Eventually no school in the area will take them. So they are shipped of to 'vocational courses' run by local colleges. The children are collected by taxi and returned home by taxi. The taxi firm gets paid even if the child doesn't attend. So does the college.

Imagine what would happen to those schools if all of a sudden 20% (more like 50% in my opinion) of pupils/parents suddenly decided that pretending to learn brick laying etc, if you bothered to turn up that is, was way easier than actually learning to write. Why all those 'special needs' children would disappear from main stream schools and teachers would be left with nothing to do but teach.

A scheme devised by teachers to get rid of the children they were scared of, couldn't be arsed with etc would suddenly rob them of all the excuses they had ever trotted out to make up for their lack of skills.

And the only parents they would ever face were the ones that would not be fobbed of with the 'special needs' label.

Just a thought.

Mummy x

adelaide girl said...

Just have to find some jobs for them when they leave Tech School. I hear China has lots of manufacturing industries.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

The tragedy is that all this good stuff is at least being talked about in England, and may even (God willing and Unions faced down) be tried.

But up here in Scotland it's the good old unreconstructed bog-standard comp staffed by EIS and managed by public sector drones, apparently for ever and ever. No new ideas are ever allowed, and certainly not any old ones that might actually work.

How many young lives are going to be blighted before we wake up, if we ever do?

subrosa said...

Excellent comment MLL and it's good to hear an up to date account of what is really going on. It will be the same here in Scotland, I have no doubt.

I'm hoping Gove gets this right. He certainly has good templates (from the 50s and 60s) with which to work.

We can't afford to let down another generation of our young.

subrosa said...

Adelaide girl, the tech schools back in the 50s offered business studies as part of the academic curriculum. Although few went to university in those days, quite a few of my peers from the local tech school went on to build good businesses, both small and large.

We need to encourage the young to have the confidence to be self-employed and not always expect someone else to provide work for them.

subrosa said...

Now now Weekend Yachtsman, there's the new Curriculum for Excellence here. My problem with it is the definition of excellence.

We need to wake up and realise that all children can't learn in the same environment with the same curriculum. It hasn't worked for the past 40 years and no matter how much they tinker around the edges, it will only work when we provide the specialised schools that cater for the differing interests.

I'm sure you read Mummylonglegs' comment. Is our attitude here 'can't upset the teachers can we?'

Elaine said...

For too long childhood has been 'managed' by 'experts' who dictate a childs knowledge base .
A glaring example of where this fails is this- youngsters / young adults become parents without ever having taken responsibility for those younger than themselves. Parents who have never changed nappies , never kept a watchful eye over children playing, never put a plaster on a grazed knee, never stayed a child about to step into the road.
If we cannot give youngsters the above experiences to enable them to become parents with the tools to parent then doesn't that show the whole system needs to be overhauled.
Having the skills to provide for oneself as an adult is important but the biggest driver is the adults desire to provide for their family and is that not the missing link in all of this shambles?.
I am not good at explaining my thoughts but I hope you can see some logic in the above.
Yes provide more scope to allow children to follow their own interests and develop skills but lets go the whole hog and enable them to develop the abilities to parent too.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

It is right and proper that different kinds of talent are streamed into different places.

Industry should be encouraged to invest, side by side, with technical colleges, in those who can strip down and re-build a Land Rover and know how Concorde works, but cannot do a Formalist anatomy of Zola.

subrosa said...

You've confused me now WW. Do you mean the Frenchman or the football manager? ;)

subrosa said...

Very eloquent post Elaine and the logic is obvious. What also contributes to good parenting is the behaviour of your own parents. I decided I'd never ever say, "because I say so" without giving a proper explanation. I detested that opt-out from my own mother.

How do we teach parenting? Only those who perhaps don't really need it would attend and I can't see why it should be introduced into schools - there's not enough time for one thing.

McGonagall said...

In high schools here kids have a full range of academic subjects plus they can learn useful things like how to build a house or rebuild a car.

hatfield girl said...

The '50s and '60s are so long ago that useful comparison may be difficult. However there is a factor that will make a difference: boys once dominated the technical training courses; now girls are on an equal footing the technical schools will behave very differently and enjoy a different status.

subrosa said...

That's unusual McGonagall. Doesn't happen here.

subrosa said...

Erm, HG, there are still plenty of us who went to school in the 50s and 60s who are not yet retired or fully retired and remember well how the old technical schools operated.

It's not THAT long ago. Honestly. Surely not. :)

Elaine said...

You cannot teach parenting but it can be learnt.
Basically is it not a series of responses?
Responses that if children were given the opportunity to play in groups that were not age selective, nor heavy on adult intervention, would develop naturally.
We no longer have large sibling groups so we cannot return to the days of older siblings mentoring younger ones but somehow we have to have a system where 7yr olds no longer feel that it is 'uncool' to play with 3yr olds. Older children should be building dens and go-carts for younger ones, 10yr olds should be helping 5yr olds make mothers day cards the possibilities are endless and they are not 'pie in the sky' it merely needs adults to realise that perhaps they are not the only source of learning and that children can learn an awful lot from each other and that, included in that learning, are skills that will translate over the years into parenting skills.
After all Subrosa how many Dad's know how to cobble together a go-cart? But give a mixed group of children the equipment and I bet my bottom dollar that they could.

subrosa said...

Elaine thank you. Could I have your permission to use your comment in a post I have in mind for tomorrow please? It's to do with my post regarding the Isle of Wight's decision to give girls as young as 13 the Pill without prescription.

Elaine said...

Thank you Subrosa please do use the comment

subrosa said...

Thanks Elaine. Much appreciated.

Billysu said...

Not sure if you heard the Civitas vs Demos debate on Today Prog 15th Sept, but it demonstrates how far along the line of social control some have moved to. The biscuit really was quoting the practices of a police state (Finland) as our high ideal! As a mother of a fabulous teenager, we discuss all aspects of parenting & family life. I am honoured to participate in her life & support her development into adulthood. I will definitely not be calling on the state to advise me on parenting. We (not the state) jointly decide on responsibility & freedom.

subrosa said...

No Billy I didn't hear that one. I'll see if it's on iPlayer and listen if I've time tomorrow.

Thanks so much for your comment. I put a post on Mumsnet the other day asking for comments about the contraception for 13+girls and only a couple of them were anything like yours. There were plenty rude comments on Mumsnet and the overall attitude seemed to be 'better my daughter has contraception if she wants to have sex.' Only one mentioned any real relationship with her children and another, a male if I remember, said he had experience of girls saying they just wanted to be hugged so they felt sex was the answer.

Parenting can be learned as Elaine says and it's the experience of the parent and child which creates the strength and depth of the relationship. I still, on the odd occasion, apologise to mine for the mess I made of a couple of things, but now they just laugh and say they understand now.

The problem in this country now is that parental responsibilities have been slowly removed from parents. The last one to stand up for them was Victoria Gillick and she was ridiculed by the masses. I truly admired her for her courage in taking on the state.

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