16 year olds need a universal “sixth form UCAS”

Eddie Playfair

Nick Clegg’s announcement that the government wants to introduce a “UCAS-style one-stop on-line shop for 16 year olds who do not want to go to university” (BBC 27/02/14) is an interesting idea, even with all those hyphens. However, as presented in the media so far, it is also seriously flawed.

The proposed service was described as a purely “vocational website” offering searches for “college courses”, apprenticeships and traineeships in contrast to all the A-level and university guidance which is already available online.

16 year olds would certainly benefit from a sixth form UCAS (or “FECAS”) but only if it is a universal system covering all qualifications. The approach as described so far seems to be based on several misconceptions about what colleges do and what “college courses” lead to:

1. “College courses” actually include the full spectrum of education and training opportunities including A-levels, GCSEs, vocational courses, traineeships and apprenticeships. These…

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