The future's so bright, I gotta wear protective goggles: five thoughts on vocational education - RSA

The future's so bright, I gotta wear protective goggles: five thoughts on vocational education

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  • Education
  • Schools
  • Cognition








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I spoke this morning at the annual IBO conference for those schools who are piloting the career-related International Baccalaureate - the IBCC. We're proud that our RSA Academy in Tipton is at the forefront of this exciting development. Nothing I have seen, in England at any rate, has come closer to breaking the academic-vocational divide.

 It demonstrates the power of schools and organisations bypassing policy fluctuations to take their own rigorous approaches to assessment. In a recent speech to Teaching Schools, Michael Gove signaled his enthusiasm for teacher-made GCSEs and other assessments. Today's launch of the Progressive Awards Alliance is another intriguing example, although perhaps not what Mr Gove had in mind.

I was asked to talk about the future of 16-19 vocational education. Partly to avoid the morass of acronym-heavy policy reports, many of which aren't relevant to the IBCC schools outside the UK, but mainly to cover up for my lack of detailed knowledge (if in doubt, broaden it out), I framed my presentation through a different question:

What would it take for the future of 16-19 vocational education to be bright?

Then, borrowing heavily from the OECD skills strategy, the Centre for Real World Learning's report on vocational pedagogy, and a number of summaries of  research on adolescence, I offered five possible responses.

1. Escape from the tyranny of the enlightenment.

2. Apply new findings about the teenage brain and behaviour.

3. Create a culture of evidence-informed and evidence-building pedagogy.

4. Turn vocational learning into an entitlement for 7-16 year olds.

5. Be clearer about the role of vocational education for the most disengaged learners.

To keep this blog short, I won't expand on any of these, although if people ask me to via comments, I'll be flattered enough to reveal more.

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The photos above came from an RSA Area Based Curriculum blacksmith Project at Ark SCE School in Germany. They were taken by Windsor School SCE student Jack Turner to support his Arts Award Gold, with the support of photographer David Crausby.

Joe Hallgarten, Director of Education @joehallg

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  • Interesting broadening out, Joe. But 'escape from the tyranny of the enlightenment'? Please explain further. Or send me your presentation! David Parker