Scrap national curriculum for over-14s, Lords says

The House of Lords social mobility committee has published a report claiming that scrapping the national curriculum for pupils over 14 and taking careers advice away from schools could help young people make better choices about their future.

The report entitled, Overlooked and left behind, outlines that young people who choose vocational courses are being left behind by the government. In particular, it advised that a new 14-19 ‘transition stage’ should be created, to allow pupils to choose a future best suited to them, be it through an academic or technical route.

The current national curriculum applies to state run schools and sets out programmes of study and attainment targets for all subjects at all four key stages, guiding pupils up to their GCSEs.

The news comes as critics have argued that the curriculum is a reflection of the government’s ‘obsession with a narrow set of subjects in a rigid framework’ and is likely to damage the chances of young people who do not follow an academic route into work.

The report said: “It would be better for the national curriculum to stop at age 14, rather than 16, and for a new 14–19 transition stage to be developed, incorporating a core element with either academic or vocational elements.

“It could reduce drop-out rates at age 16 and age 17 from both vocational and academic routes. It would however require suitable advice and guidance to be given before young people make decisions about the subjects that they study at 14 to 16, which may later help or hinder progression to employment and further learning.”

Baroness Corston, committee chair, said: “We have found that without being taught life skills, given the right support, access to work experience and robust, independent careers advice, we are in danger of trapping these young people in low-skilled, low-paid work, with little chance of a rewarding career.”

Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We will invest £70million in our careers strategy over the course of this parliament to transform the quality of careers education.

“We have also set up the Careers and Enterprise Company to bring young people into contact with employers and develop closer links with employers so they can play a greater role in preparing young people for the world of work.”

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