Local Assembly Member for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, spoke in the Assembly Chamber last Wednesday calling for greater access to vocational courses for pupils.
Nick asked Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education, how the Welsh Government is ensuring that pupils at Key Stage 4 have access to vocational courses.
In response the Minister stated that she placed great value on vocational qualifications being available for 14 to 16-year-olds and that the Learning and Skills (Wales) Measure 2009 requires all learners to be offered a minimum of three vocational courses at key stage 4 in the local curricula offer.
Nick commented: “So many young people can secure a rewarding and successful career through the vocational route……So, what are you doing to ensure greater availability of such courses in schools and colleges, and to ensure even more effective signposting for younger people, at an earlier age, so that we do see, over time, that the loss of—I was going to say 'prejudice'; that's probably too strong a word—the loss of that difference between vocational and academic so that both routes are equally acceptable?”
In Response the Minister stated: “There is no disincentive for schools to be able to offer these courses to pupils, where that is the right thing for those children. I'm very pleased to reassure the Member that all four secondary schools in Monmouthshire are meeting the requirement of the learning and skills Measure, and that that choice is available to learners in his area. For example, in King Henry VIII Comprehensive School, in Abergavenny—which I had the privilege to visit on GCSE day, and to celebrate with them a record set of GCSE results for that school—learners in that particular school are offered eight vocational courses at key stage 4. But the Member is right—there is more that we need to do to sometimes overcome perceptions of the value of vocational courses. And that's why we are currently piloting a new approach to information and advice to children and young people, so that we can ensure that all children are making the right choices on the basis of a real understanding and knowledge that vocational qualifications can help them achieve their career aspirations and fulfil their potential.”