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The future of technical and professional education: joining up the dots

By Tami McCrone

The Learning and Skills Research Network (LSRN) workshop held last week on the future of technical and professional education was as current, relevant and thought-provoking as ever. Continue reading


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Could it be that disengagement leads to poor skills?

By Tami McCrone

Last Thursday I attended two events in London: a Demos seminar reporting on ways to re-engage disengaged young people pre-16 years old, and an OECD seminar ‘Building skills for all – a review of England’ which offered policy insights from the survey of adult skills.
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Parents are in the dark about careers enlightenment for their children

By Tami McCrone

What did your child do at school today? An age old question that any parent will tell you is difficult to get an answer to at the best of times. In my house, I might achieve a grunt of ‘maths’ from my son, and perhaps a bit more of a detailed explanation of the latest graphics project from my daughter. But I don’t think any of my children ever came home and told me ‘we did careers education today mum and I’m interested in finding out more about working in business because that’s where my skills and interests lie!’
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Photocopying and making tea: How important is work experience?

By Anneka Dawson

What do stacking bookshelves for a bookshop and doing photocopying for an insurance company have in common? They were activities I completed for work experience weeks while I was at school that did very little to prepare me for the world of work.

The coalition government made the decision to end compulsory work experience in 2012, a decision which some are challenging. The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) workforce survey found that 76 per cent of 2,885 companies felt that a lack of work experience was one of the main reasons that young people were not ready for the workplace. This has led the BCC to call for a return to compulsory work experience. But are schools still using work experience placements, and how useful is work experience anyway? Continue reading


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‘Technical’, ‘vocational’, ‘professional’ education: what’s in a name?

By Tami McCrone

NFER’s recent review of technical education for the Association of Colleges found that there is no universal understanding of what is meant by vocational and technical education. Despite that difficulty, it is possible to isolate the constituent parts of effective vocational teaching and learning, but not for effective technical education.

So what exactly are vocational and technical courses? Continue reading


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Reading is easy – so why bother to assess phonological awareness in young children?

By Diane King

We live in a society that places a high value on literacy skills and, if nothing else, we expect schools to teach our children to read and write. However, literacy difficulties are common and can be persistent, impacting not only on school experience, academic achievement and later life choices, but also on many practical issues of daily living. Continue reading


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The poetry and prose of careers guidance

By Ben Durbin

It is said that you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. While Labour’s education manifesto, launched last week, was hardly poetry, when it came to its commitments on careers guidance the sentiment was certainly right.  However, it was light on detail and raised as many questions as it answered.

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How do we create a more responsive skills system?

By guest blogger Philippa Mellish, Policy Manager, South East Strategic Leaders

Philippa Mellish speculates on skills beyond May’s election and signposts new resources to help schools, colleges and SMEs have one conversation, do just one thing, to shape a fit for purpose skills system Continue reading