The Wolf Review (published March 2011) has recommended that education needs to focus on the core skills needed for employment. Professor Alison Wolf, an expert in education and skills, has released an independent review in which she states that pupils who fail to achieve good GCSEs in English and maths at 16 should be made to continue with them. More than 90% of 16 years olds remain in education or training beyond GCSE, yet Wolf’s report reveals that the standard of English and maths two years later is often no better than when students took their GCSEs the first time.
In an apparent backlash against the plethora of vocational options, the report attacks the current system which encourages schools to use qualifications that may be equal to four GCSEs at the expense of developing basic skills in English and maths. Vocational qualifications, including BTECs, City and Guilds and OCR Nationals can be taken in subjects as diverse as construction, dance and catering.
The Wolf Review recommends that up until the age of 16, pupils spend 80% of their time on core subjects, and requests that some vocational qualifications are no longer represented on school league tables. This move would be welcomed by the National Union of Teachers, who believe that it is important for pupils to not be herded into one type of education or another at far too young an age”.