Pupils may get GCSEs for work experience

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The Independent Online

Pupils could soon be awarded GCSEs for work experience as part of a radical shake-up of the exams system.

A leading bank is negotiating for the hundreds of young people a year to whom it offers work experience to receive an accreditation. The scheme, under which their work would count for half of a GCSE, aims to underline the importance of job training for students aged 14 to 16.

Other companies are lining up to follow the bank, whose name has not been disclosed, once the scheme, which will coincide with moves to make work experience compulsory for pupils aged 14 to 16, is announced in the autumn.

Mike Tomlinson, who is heading a government inquiry into exams reform, said the move to make work experience compulsory would help to ensure it was better organised by firms. It would also give youngsters some recognition for the time they had spent with firms.

Mr Tomlinson's final report is expected to recommend that work done by a young person should be assessed as part of the new diploma he is proposing to replace the existing GCSE and A-level system.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Teachers has urged schools to shorten the school day rather than have pupils taught by classroom assistants.

Under an agreement to reduce workload, teachers will be guaranteed, from September, that they do not have to cover the lessons of absent colleagues for more than 38 hours a year. As part of a deal agreed by other unions with ministers, classroom assistants will be allowed to take over lessons as "cover supervisors". The NUT argues that this will reduce standards.