CBI sceptical over proposed changes to qualifications

Business
leaders are sceptical whether plans to replace A-levels and GCSEs with a
diploma will improve education in England, a survey shows.

The
Government’s Working Group on 14-19 Reform said a diploma system would allow
universities and employers to single out the highest academic achievers –
something A-levels are accused of failing to do.

However,
more than 80 per cent of firms surveyed by the CBI employers group said changes
might distract from raising standards.

Nearly
six out of 10 bosses thought it was more important to improve teaching
standards and tackle the shortage of well-qualified teachers in subjects such
as English and maths.

The
CBI said the diploma would have to satisfy six tests. It would need a strategy
for improving young people’s literacy and numeracy, show how the status of
vocational education would be raised and be more challenging for the brightest.

The
diploma’s grade structure would also have to give employers a clear picture of
what prospective employees could do.

Only
a fifth of CBI members said replacing the existing exam system was their top
priority and some were suspicious that a ‘rewards for all’ mentality lay behind
it.

The
working group’s final report will be ready in October.

By Mike Berry

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