TUC wants more skills education

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE NATIONAL Curriculum resembles a grammar-school timetable which, linked with a rigid system of testing, is the opposite of what pupils and the country need, the TUC says today.

In evidence to the National Commission on Education, the TUC says the constant change in direction by the Government on programmes of study, tests and coursework in exams 'has wreaked havoc with the system'.

The standard assessment tasks should be replaced by teacher assessment, and schools should be able to define their own curriculum strategies to meet defined aims. Rather than academic subjects, the emphasis should be on achieving skills. It says that family income continues to be the single most important factor of participation in education and training. Only 5percent of 18-year-olds from manual occupational backgrounds are in higher education, and only 20 per cent of employees in social groups IV and V have received training in the past three years. There are also marked regional differences. In Harrow, north-west London, 77 per cent of teenagers remain in full-time education, compared to 35 per cent in South Tyneside, and it says that further and higher education institutions should be set targets for including students from under-represented groups, such as low-income families, ethnic minorities and those with disabilities. Public funding should be provided to encourage institutions to change their intake.

Opportunities for All; TUC Publications, Congress House, Great Russell St, London WC1B 3LS; pounds 2.

Britain could be providing too much training, and employers may be suffering from unnecessary costs, a report published today by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a right-wing think-tank, says. The paper argues that state expenditure on training has little economic rationale.

Training Too Much? A sceptical look at the economics of skill provision in the UK; Hobart Paper 118; IEA, 2 Lord North St, London, SW1P 3LB; pounds 6.95p plus 50p p&p.