Vocational value fails to impress

May 10, 1996

Government efforts to raise the status and value of post-16 vocational qualifications have failed, a report published this week concludes.

It says the gap between the aspirations of school-leavers aiming for academic qualifications and the ambitions of those hoping to gain a vocational award has widened. The image that pupils approaching further education have of vocational qualifications is still work orientated. They are not seen as a way into higher education.

A national survey of school-leavers conducted by researchers at Southampton University's school of education found that nearly all pupils aiming for academic qualifications were hoping to go on to higher education, compared with just a quarter of those taking vocational courses.

Half of the pupils surveyed were aiming for "straight" academic courses and another 11 per cent aiming chiefly for an A level while studying a mixture of academic and vocational subjects.

A report on the findings concludes that most school-leavers distrust the capacity of vocational qualifications to deliver a place in higher education.

The survey, sponsored by the Higher Education Information Services Trust, also found that the academic reputation of post-16 institutions was the most important influence on school-leavers' choices of where they wished to study. Academic standing was cited as a reason for choosing an institution by almost three quarters of pupils, while its location and information presented in prospectuses were mentioned by just under 40 per cent.

Student Decision-making and the Post-16 Market Place. From the Centre for Research in Education Marketing, University of Southampton, Pounds 35.

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