Labour pledges education reform for the ‘forgotten 50%’

Labour is setting out plans at its conference today to reform the education system for the ‘forgotten 50%’ of young people who are currently failed by low-value vocational qualifications.

Speaking at the party conference in Manchester today, Ed Miliband will state that the focus of educational attainment should no longer simply be on increasing the number of people going to university.

He will also emphasis the difference between his own upbringing and the Tory elite, explaining how his school taught him more than just how to pass exams.

Miliband will propose the introduction of a ‘gold standard’ qualification to be known as the ‘Technical Baccalaureate’, which would require all young people to study English and maths to 18 years old.

New rules would see companies sign agreements requiring all participating firms to pay to cover the cost of training in apprenticeships, and businesses would be given control of the £1bn Skills Agency budget.

Miliband will say: “We cannot succeed if we have an education system that only works for half the country. It’s time now to focus on those who don't go to university.” 

The proposal for a Tech Bacc originates from a report by Prof Alison Wolf in 2011 commissioned by Gove.

The report states: “The staple offer for between a quarter and a third of the post-16 cohort is a diet of low-level vocational qualifications, most of which have little to no labour market value. Among 16 to 19-year-olds, the review estimated that at least 350,000 got little to no benefit from the post-16 education system”. 

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