Independent schools urged to embrace vocational courses

Magnus Bashaarat, head of Milton Abbey Independent School, has called upon independent schools to give equal prominence to vocational qualifications as they do A-levels.

In an article for the Telegraph, Bashaarat claimed that although vocational qualifications are ‘highly rated’ by universities, many parents remain ‘in the dark’ about the pathways the that BTECs open up for learners and added that the qualifications were ‘victims of intellectual and class snobbery’.

The head teacher said that the sector had a personal responsibility to ‘embrace the potential of vocational learning’ to ensure pupils weren't left behind following changing demands of employers.

Bashaarat wrote: “Vocational qualifications are highly rated by universities and employers but are overlooked and misunderstood by independent schools and parents. The time has come to give them equal prominence alongside A-levels and the IB.

"My school is evangelical in its commitment to vocational learning as a parallel pathway with A-levels towards to university. When I meet parents with children in Years 5 and 6 who are starting to plan their child’s senior school, I try and paint a picture of the choices a learner will need to make for Year 12 study; six years into the future."

Bashaarat’s announcement follows a similar move last year by Andrew Fleck, headmaster at Sedbergh School in Cumbria, who wrote in the Headmaster’s and Headmistresses Conference magazine, Insight, calling for more awareness on the importance of quality vocational education.

Fleck said: “I have never met anyone who disagrees but it appears that the contribution of HMC schools is particularly poor in this regard, with only 44 [out of 276] schools recorded as offering non- A-level vocational programmes."

Read more