Commenting on widely reported government plans to reform the A-level system in England with the introduction of a ‘British Baccalaureate’, David Robinson, Director for Post 16 and Skills at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:
“The education that sixth form and college students receive in England is narrower than in most developed countries. EPI research has shown that curriculum breadth narrowed further during the last decade, despite there being career benefits for those students who study a broader range of subjects. Therefore, steps to broaden the curriculum are encouraging.
“However, for any reforms to be successful the government must address the funding and recruitment issues faced by sixth forms and colleges. A broader curriculum will require more teaching hours and more teachers. Yet, since 2010 funding for students aged 16-18 has lagged behind funding for younger students and those in higher education, leading colleges to suffer from a vacancy rate of over 5%, far higher than in schools.
“Furthermore, only half of students study A levels, with the other half largely taking applied or vocational alternatives or lower level qualifications. These students must not be neglected in any efforts to increase the breadth of the post-16 curriculum.”