Ofsted calls for improved vocational GCSEs

Schools
need to do more to improve the practical experiences of pupils taking new GCSEs
in vocational subjects, education standards body Ofsted has warned.

The
new GCSEs, which began in the last school year, are designed to develop pupils’
knowledge, capabilities and business skills in broad vocational areas,
especially through practical and work-related learning.

The
Ofsted report finds that the new courses have succeeded in diversifying the
curriculum at Key Stage 4. They have also improved the behaviour, motivation
and attitudes of the pupils taking them, it says.

However,
to distinguish them more from traditional courses, inspectors found that the
teaching of the vocational dimension of the new GCSEs needs better planning.

They
also recommend that teaching makes use of more suitable vocational experiences
for pupils. In some subjects, courses are too similar to traditional GCSEs,
inspectors say.

David
Bell, chief inspector of schools, said: "The new GCSEs have got off to a
satisfactory start, but we now need to look more carefully at how to bring the
vocational element of the courses to life to ensure that pupils have more
relevant work-related experiences, and are able to translate theory into
practice."

The
report comes a week after education secretary Charles Clarke launched a
campaign aimed at persuading more companies to help design vocational degree
courses, and sponsor students through them.

By Daniel Thomas     

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