Making Education Work

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1 Making Education Work A report from an Independent Advisory Group chaired by Professor Sir Roy Anderson January 2014

2 Content 03 Preface 06 Executive Summary 09 Chapter 1: Aims and objectives 13 Chapter 2: Education policy in England 19 Chapter 3: International developments 29 Chapter 4: Changing education and skills needed: the view from HEIs and employers 43 Chapter 5: Exploring the skills gap 51 Chapter 6: Conclusions and recommendations 1

3 About Pearson Pearson is the world s leading learning company, with over 40,000 employees working to support learners in over 70 countries. Our products and services are used in schools, higher education and professional environments around the world, creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to transform their lives. Whether it s designing qualifications in the UK, supporting colleges in the US, training school leaders in the Middle East or helping students in China to learn English, we aim to help people make progress in their lives through learning. By working with our partners in the education community and beyond to share insight, experience, data and ideas, we are helping to improve learning and outcomes for everyone. Learn more at pearson.com. For Pearson, contact: Mary Griffin or Sharon Wood Pearson One90 High Holborn London WC1V 7BH T: E: W: Text: Roy Anderson 2014 Anderson, R. (2014) Careers 2020: Making Education Work. Permission is granted under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CCBY 3.0) licence to replicate, copy, distribute, transmit, or adapt all content freely provided that attribution is provided as illustrated in the reference below. To view a copy of this licence, visit by/3.0 or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA. Sample reference: Anderson, R. (2014) Careers 2020: Making Education Work The publisher would like to thank the following for their kind permission to reproduce their photographs: (Key: b-bottom; c-centre; l-left; r-right; t-top) Cover images: Front: Pearson Education Ltd: Ian Wedgewood t, Studio 8 bl; photolibrary.com: Holger Hill br. All other images Pearson Education Ltd. 2

4 Preface In 1987, Professor Sir Gordon Higginson was invited by the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, to review the A level (advanced level) system. His reviewing committee, taking evidence from industry, commerce and education, recommended increased breadth in the subjects taught and suggested a move to at least five subjects. The report won wide support from professionals. However, the government could not countenance tampering with the gold standard of A level. Higginson predicted that it might take another 15 years to broaden the subject range taught to 16- to 18-year-olds. A casual observer from another country might conclude that little has changed in education policy for 16- to 18-year-old students within the English school system over the past 60 years. The A level was introduced in 1951 with first examination in It could be taken on a subject by subject basis according to the strengths and interests of the student. Today, students typically take three to four subjects that are taken of the gold standard qualification, resulting in a high degree of specialisation when students leave school for employment or further/higher education. With respect to detail, however, a great deal has changed in content, the range of subjects that can be taken, and assessment (including grading). Over the past few decades students, teachers and parents have experienced very perhaps too frequent changes in all three factors, as governments and Secretaries of State for Education have changed. Over this time period the world has changed significantly with globalisation in, for example, trade, communication, technology and employment. In the words of Thomas Friedman, in his book The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, globalisation has created a level playing field in commerce and trade. Increasingly, advances in technology also create equal access to information for all who can connect to the World Wide Web and hence influence in a substantial way educational opportunities. What is much debated, however, is how best to prepare young people to enter this world and have a productive and enjoyable life. Do they need different skills from those offered by our specialised A level system? 3

5 When I was asked by Rod Bristow at Pearson to put together an independent Advisory Group of senior fi gures from business and higher education to consider these issues, the puzzle of why the A level system I experienced as a student had changed so little, and yet the world had changed a great deal, made me quickly accept this chance to explore what global changes implied for the English educational system and educational policy designed to support economic growth. I have been privileged in this task to have the skills and experience of an Advisory Group consisting of senior fi gures from business and universities. The content of this report aims to contribute to the debate of whether the gold standard of A level be broadened to include both more academic disciplines and teaching on the so called softer skills, such as communication and team work, which are so important in employment and university. Professor Sir Roy Anderson Imperial College January

6 The Advisory Group Chair: Sir Roy Anderson FRS, FMedSci Sir Roy is Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology in the School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London and Director of the Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research. His recent appointments include Rector of Imperial College London and Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Defence, UK. His research interests are in interdisciplinary studies at the interface between medicine, biology, mathematics and computation. Advisory Group members Jane Beine Head of Partner Development at John Lewis Rod Bristow President, Core Markets, Pearson Professor Sir David Bell Vice Chancellor, the University of Reading Professor Nick Butler Visiting Fellow and Chair of the King s Policy Institute, King s College London Dr Jonathan Copus Chief Financial Officer, Salamander Energy Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow Vice Chancellor, the University of Kent Steve Holliday Chief Executive, the National Grid Professor Sir John Holman Professor in the Chemistry Department, University of York Tony Moloney UK Manager for Education and Skills, the National Grid Professor Clive Page Professor of Pharmacology and Head of Sackler Institute of Pulmonary Pharmacology, King s College, London Sir Michael Rake Chairman of BT Group plc, Deputy Chairman of Barclays PLC, President of the Confederation of British Industry, and a member of the Prime Minister s Business Advisory Group Ralph Saelzer Managing Director, Liebherr Sunderland Works Professor David Taylor Professor of Pharmaceutical and Public Health Policy, School of Pharmacy, UCL. The Panel thanks Pearson for their sponsorship of their work and this report. 5

7 Executive summary In recent years, surveys by employers and higher education institutions in the UK have suggested that students are not as well prepared as they should be by age 18 for the transition from secondary education to employment and/or to university. Concomitantly, international surveys of educational attainment in different countries in core competences such as reading and mathematics suggest that our performance is standing still while other countries, with fast growing economies, are moving forward to meet the educational needs in a fast changing world. This report records the deliberations of an independent Advisory Group, consisting of senior figures from the worlds of higher education and industry, on identifying the skills and knowledge required by 18-year-olds to support successful transition to the next stage in their lives and, in so doing, address the skills gap identified by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and others. Our work specifically focused on a number of key issues: the setting and governance of education policy in England to meet the country s long term economic and social needs and, more specifically: whether a broader curriculum than that offered by A levels is desirable whether the teaching of the so called softer skills alongside academic skills is essential and articulating the skills in terms of the needs of employers and universities. In writing this report we are very aware of the many changes to post-16 education that have taken place over the past few decades and the burden this has imposed on the teaching profession. In suggesting further change, we do this in the hope that education policy in the UK can be formulated via cross-party agreement to develop long term strategic education planning to better prepare learners with the skills for success in the future while supporting the country s economic growth and social well being. The report represents the outcomes of phase 1 of the work of the Advisory Group. It articulates a shared vision from employers and higher education on skills needs and both sets out recommendations for stakeholders and identifies the need for further research in partnership with schools, students, industry and higher education institutions. Our discussions were augmented by the views of focus groups of employees and higher education representatives. These conclusions are presented below as eight recommendations for change and a further five recommendations for enhanced action. 6

8 Recommendations Recommendation 1 The secondary curriculum must support the economic strategy of the country. To ensure long term planning for the secondary curriculum linked to this strategy, the creation of an independent body is recommended representing all key stakeholders (the teaching profession, the employers, higher education and political parties). Responsibility for the secondary curriculum, its delivery, and assessment should remain vested in government. The role of the independent body would be to provide wide representation and consistency, and mitigate disruption associated with the frequency of change in the role of the Secretary of State for Education, an appointment that has changed regularly over the past 25 years with an average time in post of just over two years. Advice from the independent body should be strategic, for the long term, and must reflect the social and economic ambitions of the country. Recommendation 2 The A level system should be slowly changed to a baccalaureate type system in which a broader curriculum (including core English, mathematics and the Extended Project qualification) which meets the requirements of a designed framework for key competences as outlined in recommendation 3, is provided for all post-16 learners. Recommendation 3 England must, as soon as possible, formally adopt a framework for key competences guided by recent international developments (such as the European Framework), which includes: communication in English and in foreign languages, competence in mathematics, science and technology and digital competence, learning to learn individually and as part of a team, personal, interpersonal and intercultural competence, including an understanding of codes of conduct and the importance of business ethics, a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, creativity and cultural awareness. These competencies must fall under the inspection framework and should be embedded throughout the curriculum and associated qualifications. Recommendation 4 Project work evidenced by the Extended Project and other qualifications should become a key requirement for university entrance. Recommendation 5 Non-cognitive skills and attributes such as team working, emotional maturity, empathy, and other interpersonal skills are as important as proficiency in English and mathematics in ensuring young people s employment prospects. Assessment should reflect this reality and so investment is needed to support assessment experts in finding ways of reliably evidencing these skills. Recommendation 6 A national careers service should be created and its advice aligned with the areas of the government s growth strategy, to gear the education system more clearly towards the areas that support the country s economic strategy and ambitions. 7

9 Recommendation 7 An exchange of staff between schools and employers is essential to enhance teachers engagement with the worlds of business and industry. Employers and employer representative groups must collaborate with school and college leadership groups to design and implement a national scheme to promote this exchange. Recommendation 8 Access to high quality teaching and learning is currently unequal technology offers a way to resolve this at least in part. Government should investigate virtual learning as a way to improve the quality of provision and make it more consistent for all students in public and private sectors. Recommendation 9 The roles of BIS and DfE should be reviewed by government to ensure much closer working relationships, and a shared set of objectives for the education system as a whole. The case for placing all education responsibilities, including apprenticeships, within one department should be examined. Recommendation 10 We should learn from curriculum design and content initiatives in high performing countries, as judged by international rankings (e.g. PISA), commission further research to investigate why England s performance has stagnated and other countries have improved, and implement policies to increase our performance relative to other countries. Recommendation 11 Greater focus on the quality and recognition of vocational learning for all students is necessary to increase understanding and acceptance of the diversity of routes available to learners, and to enable them to acquire the skills necessary to support progression to further or higher education and employment. Recommendation 12 In association with our second recommendation for a broader curriculum, the cognitive skills of application, analysis and evaluation should be delivered and assessed in all qualifications, in line with the methodology adopted for mathematics in the current A level reform programme. Recommendation 13 Government should continue the development and promotion of programmes to encourage the most highly qualified graduates to enter the teaching profession. 8

10 Chapter 1: Aims and objectives 9

11 Chapter 1: Aims and objectives Why the project was initiated For many years, repeated surveys by employers and higher-education institutions have suggested that students are not as well prepared as they should be by age 18 for the transition from secondary-level education to employment or to university. 1 In autumn 2012, in advance of both the reform of both national suites of qualifications GCSE and A level scheduled to be introduced from September 2015, Pearson invited Sir Roy Anderson to set up and chair an independent advisory group to investigate this concern. The Advisory Group, consisting of key figures from the worlds of higher education and industry, was asked to identify the skills and knowledge required by well educated 18-yearolds to support successful transition to the next stage in their lives and, in so doing, address the skills gap identified by the CBI and others. The results of the Group s deliberations would be publicly available in time to contribute to the qualification-reform agenda. The work of the Advisory Group was structured in two phases: Phase 1 Identification of the skills and knowledge required by 18-year-olds for progression to higher education and/or employment, primarily through secondary research. Agreement about the evidence learners would need to provide to assure HE and employers that they had acquired these skills. This Report signals the end of the first phase. Its intention is to articulate a shared vision from employers and higher education on skills needs. It sets out recommendations for stakeholders and identifies the need for further research with schools and students. Phase 2 The next step will be to consult more widely on the implications and practical steps for executing the Report recommendations, and to bring together the partnerships and expertise necessary to develop higher quality skills learning for young people. Phase 2 will be longer term and require the support and involvement of a wider range of key stakeholders: from policy makers whose support is essential to embedding skills securely in the curriculum, from employers and higher education institutions who will need to identify and select students with the appropriate set of transferable skills, from awarding bodies 1 Changing the pace, CBI/Pearson education and skills survey (2013). education_and_skills_survey_2013.pdf. 10

12 Chapter 1: Aims and objectives who may develop qualifications and/or other materials to support skills development, from teachers who will need to deliver the skill set and, most importantly, from the students who will need to develop and apply the skills. The gap in skills is not unique to the UK. In many countries there is a shortage of individuals with appropriate skills to meet the demands of increasing globalisation with its dependence on cutting-edge technology and communication. Governments in all major economic centres report a need to improve and expand education strategies to address the need for 21st century skills. 2 England needs to address this gap in skills to ensure that it is not left behind in the global economy. Global mobility is creating demand for a more flexible, adaptable employee. Creativity and innovation are increasingly relevant to the modern business environment where a job for life is unlikely and working life is likely to represent a series of consecutive specialisms, with focus on the acquisition and development of transferable skills. 3 Ministers, the Department for Education (DfE) and agencies including Ofsted and Ofqual have created a new educational landscape which could provide an opportunity for employers and universities to have some input into qualification development. Ministers, for example, have indicated their wish for higher education to have a new role in setting the content of A levels. 4 This has been realised through the creation of the A level Content Advisory Board (ALCAB) by the Russell Group of universities. 5 Similarly, there is potential for employers to engage with the development of vocational qualifications. 6 While the opportunity exists for both employers and higher education to help shape the skills, knowledge and personal attributes needed by learners for their future success, the opportunity is dependent on the interest and goodwill of government and may not survive a change in administration. The OECD notes that To improve the transition from school to work, regardless of the economic climate, education systems should work to ensure that individuals have the skills that are needed in the labour market, and reduce the proportion of young adults who are neither in school nor in work. 7 The current educational context creates an opportunity to try again to address this issue, to produce young people with the skills they need to succeed in the very competitive global market of today and the coming decades Pearson employer focus group on skills needs https://education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/youngpeople/qandlearning/alevels/b /changes-a-levels/ sos-russell-group 6 7 OECD (2013), Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing en 11

13 Chapter 1: Aims and objectives 12

14 Chapter 2: Education policy in England 13

15 Chapter 2: Education policy in England Background England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland operate devolved education systems with each country s government having overall responsibility for national education policy. In England, education is overseen by two government departments: the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Full-time education is compulsory for all students aged between 5 and 16, although from 2013, those aged must be in education or if employed, in training; this requirement extends to age 18 from While the system is transparent in that most information is in the public domain, decision-making processes are often complex and difficult to understand. The senior years of secondary education (Years 12 and 13) allow learners aged 16 and above to specialise, either by taking typically three or four A level qualifications or other academic qualifications such as the Pre-U, or by following a vocational programme or a mixture of vocational and academic qualifications. The National Curriculum A national curriculum sets out the knowledge, understanding and skills that society wishes its children to acquire. National curricula generally specify aims and values, content and skills in varying levels of detail. The concept of a national curriculum is not unique to the UK; it exists in some form in most countries. Where England differs from a number of other countries is in the degree of prescription. The Coalition Government indicates its intention to reduce the level of prescription 1, but this is balanced by the high degree of specificity of content in the national suites of qualifications (GCSEs and GCEs) 2 a specificity which, it is proposed, will be retained and/or enhanced in the current reform of A level. 3 Significantly however, the major difference between the National Curriculum in England and national curricula in other countries is in terms of ownership. The Education Reform Act 1944 vested power for the education system including matters connected with educational theory and practice 4 in the minister, and proposed setting up a Central Advisory Council for Education in England (with a parallel council in Wales) to advise the minister on... matters connected with educational theory and practice. Membership of the councils was solely the responsibility of the minister however, meaning that the advice could not be wholly independent https://www.education.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm?action=consultationdetails&consultationid=1934&external= no&menu= Education Reform Act. 14

16 Chapter 2: Education policy in England In England, successive education legislation, including the Education Reform Act of 1988 which established the National Curriculum, has permitted ministers, and later successive Secretaries of State for Education, to retain overall ownership of, and responsibility for, the curriculum, unlike other countries where the responsibility tends to sit more broadly within government. 5 Managing the education system The DfE is responsible for teaching and learning for children in primary schools and for young people under the age of 19 years in secondary schools and in further education. 6 The Secretary of State for Education s responsibilities include setting education policy in relation to the structure of national qualification suites, i.e. GCSEs and A level. The DfE also influences vocational qualifications through the requirements performance tables. Changes in government on a five-year electoral cycle can lead to significant modifications in policy. This, perhaps inevitably, makes it difficult for new developments to become successful, particularly those new qualifications which require a long lead-in time. John Bangs, formerly Assistant Secretary, Education and Equal Opportunities and Professional Development at the National Union of Teachers, said that schools were at the whim of new governments, which can pick apart years of work within days of taking office. Qualifications have become utterly politicised. 7 This theme was echoed by Stephen Twigg, then Shadow Secretary for Education and Skills, in a speech to the Policy Exchange in January 2013: We can only achieve lasting and sustainable reform if there is a coalition of support across politics. 8 The recognition of the need for consensus, however, has yet to achieve political support Education Reform Act 6 Further education is funded by SFA, which reports to BIS. 7 The Guardian, 26 August

17 Chapter 2: Education policy in England Coalition Government education policy Significant changes to educational policy are being introduced by the Coalition Government, which is strongly supportive of a predominantly academic curriculum until at least age 16. One of the early changes in policy was the removal of the additional support available to the Diploma which was introduced by the previous administration. 9 This ultimately led to the demise of the Diploma. In January 2013, the Secretary of State wrote to Ofqual to outline the changes to the A level structure from September Later policy announcements include changes to GCSE qualifications from September 2015, a revised National Curriculum in the core subjects and restrictions on the range of vocational qualifications that will be reported on performance tables for use both pre- and post-16. These planned reforms have resulted in some criticism that education policy was overly focused on academic learning and that insufficient was being done to address the concerns raised by the CBI and others that students lacked the broader skills needed for transition to employment at 18. In response, on 22 April 2013, Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills, announced the introduction of a Technical Baccalaureate (the TechBacc) from September This is not intended as a qualification; rather it is a performance table measure that records the achievement of some students taking advanced (Level 3) vocational programmes. The programme must include a DfE approved Technical Level qualification, a core mathematics qualification and an extended project. Opposition policy The Labour Party has yet to formally publish its education policy, and has been almost silent on its proposals for A level. However, some indications of its thinking may be inferred from the speeches of the former Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Stephen Twigg. For example, Mr Twigg has described current government policy as an attempt to recreate the past and suggested that the central question that needs to be addressed is how do we reform our education system so that it equips young people with the skills, knowledge, resilience and character that they need to play their part both as active citizens and as future business leaders and entrepreneurs? pdf https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-techbacc-will-give-vocational-education-the-high-status-it-deserves

18 Chapter 2: Education policy in England A TechBacc remains a central part of Labour s education policy, One Nation Education. The initial thinking is broadly similar to the model proposed by the coalition government, but final details are yet to be published. This proposal, which may be a qualification or a performance measure only, would include: a requirement to study English and mathematics to age 18, compulsory work experience and vocational programmes accredited by business. As part of its drive to improve the status and quality of practical and technical skills, the Labour Party also intends to increase the number and quality of apprenticeships to support students towards successful careers. 13 Labour proposes engaging employers in designing high-quality apprenticeships, creating a new Fast Track for apprentices into the civil service, matching the Fast Stream for graduates, making it a requirement for all large firms with government contracts to provide apprenticeships and ensuring that businesses are involved in the design of the curriculum. Labour s One Nation Skills Taskforce, led by Professor Chris Husbands from the Institute of Education, aims to address the vocational versus academic dichotomy by developing rigorous academic and vocational routes in order to improve the confidence of young people, parents, education providers and universities

19 Chapter 2: Education policy in England 18

20 Chapter 3: International developments 19

21 Chapter 3: International developments Background Globally, education systems typically operate in much the same way as they did at the start of the 20th century. However, reforms are now taking place in many countries in order to respond to and shape economic and social developments in the 21st century. 1 There is growing awareness of the need to move from an industry-based to an informationbased economy because of the progressive development of the information sector. New ways of living and working require new skills, and education systems are beginning to respond to the changes. 2 Anticipating the evolution of social demand for skills must be the basis for improving the quality of learning outcomes. We then need to put the premium on skills-oriented learning throughout life instead of qualifications-focused education upfront. That s about fostering demand-sensitive and relevant learning. Andreas Scheicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy, OECD International education projects Given the importance of the skills agenda, it is perhaps unsurprising that a number of high profile, internationally focused projects have emerged. Some of the best-known are described below. Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) This is a national organisation in the United States that advocates 21st century readiness for every student. The organisation proposes aligning classroom environments with real work environments and suggests that, to face the demands of higher education, career challenges and a globally competitive workforce, every student needs 21st century knowledge and skills defined as the 3Rs and 4Cs. The 3Rs include standard academic subjects: English, reading or language arts; mathematics; science; foreign languages; civics; government; economics; arts; history and geography. The 4Cs include: critical thinking and problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation. 1 Transforming Education: Assessing and teaching 21st-Century Skills (2009) Call to action: Launch of ATC21S Project in London. 2 Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills Editors: Patrick Griffin, Barry McGraw and Esther Care (Springer) page 2. 20

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