STUDENT LIFE / JAN. 28, 2014
version 5, draft 5

Business and Education Chiefs Urge to Replace A-Levels with a Baccalaureate

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A-levels should gradually be replaced by a wider baccalaureate style of qualification that allows teenagers to study more subjects according to a report drawn up by an independent advisory group of business leaders and academics.

Education chiefs called for a wider baccalaureate to be brought in so that students would cover languages, sciences and softer skills like teamwork. The move would allow young people to keep their career options open and give them more opportunities later in life, the report claims.

Baccalaureate Will Teach Students Softer Skills

The business leaders and academics behind the report said a baccalaureate, similar to the International Baccalaureate which teenagers take in mainland Europe, could also be used to teach students critical thinking and problem solving. "In broad terms they are the skills that enable young people to face the demands of higher education and career challenges in a global and very competitive environment," the report argues.

It recommends that school assessment should be changed to reflect the fact that “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”.

The report calls for the formation a national careers service and more staff exchanges between schools and employers to enhance teachers’ engagement with the worlds of business and industry.

The School Curriculum Needs to Change

The report underlines that focusing merely on A-levels – a qualification that many view as a ‘gold standard’- is increasingly outdated and should be gradually phased out.

According to the chairman of BT Group, Sir Michael Rake, over the last 25 years and longer many initiatives have been submitted by different Secretaries of State, but these failed to substantially improve the educational standards. Sir Rake added that "It is therefore time to establish a cross-party political approach to education to move on from our narrow out-dated focus with A-levels and to improve on the other competencies necessary for success including the fundamental need to improve the basic skills of literacy and numeracy which are at an unacceptably low level".

A Department of Education spokesman asserted that “alongside wider reform to GCSEs, A-levels and vocational qualifications this will mean young people leave school with the skills and qualifications they need to secure a job, apprenticeship or university place”.

On the whole, this is the first radical apolitical proposal which strives to equip students with hard skills as well as soft skills and social skills that British students lack. The aforementioned reforms are in line with the current job market demands,  given that the  overwhelming majority of UK employers seek for soft skills such as interpersonal and communication skills more than educational qualifications when sifting through the CVs of similar looking applicants.

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