Leading Article: Baker's dozen

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The Independent Online

It would be wrong to dismiss Lord Baker's campaign to introduce decent technical education for 14 to 18-year-olds as the dream of an ageing Conservative peer. His plans for 12 new technical schools on the model of the German Realschule system has much to commend it. In Britain, we have never been able to do vocational education properly. It has always been seen as second-class and low status. And it has foundered on the argument that children should receive a broad liberal education otherwise the disadvantaged will end up in vocational schools and dead-end jobs while their more fortunate colleagues receive an academic education and rule the world.

The time has come for this argument to be pensioned off. As the Germans have shown, vocational education can be excellent and produce highly qualified engineers and others who go on to contribute to the success of the economy. Moreover, it is a mistake to divide the world into those who can do academic work and the rest who are more practical. Many, probably most, people have their intellects and abilities stimulated by doing things. Baker has won agreement for 12 technical schools from his Tory colleagues. We hope they take off.