School leavers who don’t go to university allowed to ‘drift’.

‘Social mobility in Britain is hampered by a “culture of inequality” that penalises school leavers who enter the workforce rather than higher education, according to a parliamentary report.

An investigation by the House of Lords committee on social mobility called for radical revisions to the content of schooling from the age of 14, to better prepare teenagers who do not go on to university for the world of work.

“The current system for helping people move from school to work is failing most young people,” said Lady Corston, who chaired the committee. “They are simply not being adequately prepared for the world of work. This significantly disadvantages a huge number of young people and limits their opportunity for social mobility.”

Young people were in danger of being trapped in low-skilled, low-paid work, with little chance of a rewarding career, she said. “A young person considering their options for further education or employment is presented with gobbledygook. It is totally unclear to them how they can get the skills needed for a successful career.”

The report, Overlooked and Left Behind, argues that “a culture of inequality between vocational and academic routes to work” pervades the education system.’ - Guardian

‘According to the Committee on Social Mobility, young people should be able to choose before the age of 16 whether they want to pursue an academic or a vocational route beyond mainstream school, as the current system from 16-18 doesn't recognise that "transitions to work take longer for some young people".

The report suggested that this could help correct the historic "high drop out" rate from education post-GCSE, which according to a 2012 study from the OECD, saw the UK rank 26th out of 34 countries for participation rates at 17 (87 per cent, compared with the OECD average of 90 per cent).

It added that careers education should be present in school from the age of 11, warning that the current system for those who choose not to attend university was "complex and incoherent" leaving many young people "disengaged".’ - Telegraph

‘The report, which ends a nine-month enquiry, said: “A 14-19 transition stage would move away from age 16 being the cut-off point at which many young people embark on the wrong path.

“It could reduce drop-out rates at age 16 and age 17 from both vocational and academic routes.”

The suggestion conjures the image of studio schools and University Technical Colleges (UTCs), which are designed to specifically target 14 to 19-year-olds.

In his speech at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2013, David Cameron supported UTCs, saying: “Let’s have one of those colleges in every single major town.”

But they have struggled since then, with a number closing due to problems with recruitment, while several studio schools have faced the same fate.

FE Week spoke to Lady Corston, chair of the committee, but when challenged on studio schools and UTCs she said the report did not endorse any particular type of provider.’ – FE Week 

A 17-year-old campaign manager interviewed in the Independent said: ‘At school there was only the option of going to sixth form, not leaving and finding a job. A few people were told they should do apprenticeships, but mostly they told us to get more qualifications. I wanted to focus on work, not homework and revision.’

Read the report in full here and the survey the report is based on here.

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