'Muddle wastes talent'

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The Independent Online
TECHNOLOGY at A-level is in a muddle and needs urgent reform to stop young people turning away from engineering, according to a report published yesterday, writes Judith Judd.

The report, from the Engineering Council, says the economy will suffer unless schools and universities award technology a higher status.

Professor Alan Smithers, the co-author, said there was no single, respected qualification for 16 to 19-year-olds with talents in technology.

'We are wasting a lot of talent because of an emphasis on the academic ladder. People who are good at drawing out information and arriving at practical solutions are thrown off that ladder because the academic analytical approach does not suit them.

'Universities have difficulty recruiting engineers . . . because they recruit on academic ability. We need a good A-level to provide evidence of more practical abilities.'

At present there are 38 different A-level syllabuses related to technology with names ranging from Design and Realisation to Building Studies. The report complains of a 'lack of a clear concept and identity'.

Earlier this year John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, ordered a review of technology teaching up to 16 after a report from Professor Smithers and Dr Pamela Robinson said the subject was in a mess.

The report recommends a sharply focused A and AS-level with a simple label - Technology - which would follow naturally from national curriculum technology and be a stepping stone to higher education.

Technology at A-Level is published by the Engineering Council.

The Independent today continues its exclusive publication of the latest available lists of university and polytechnic places through the 'Clearing house'.

The UCCA and PCAS lists will be appearing every Tuesday and Thursday this month in the Independent, and every weekend in the Independent on Sunday. Each listing will be accompanied by a package of guidance for would-be students.

Courses and advice, pages 16-20