School curriculum and subject choice: the new battleground for social mobility

Different Careers theories take varying positions about placing the wishes of the client at the centre of the process against others who place greater emphasis on acknowledging and combating the social constraints around the client and their direction of travel. This post argues for, what would be in reality, a more prescribed curriculum that would have greater benefits for a wider cohort of young people. Within this scenario the emphasis for the CEIAG community would be to help motivate and enthuse sometimes unwilling reticent pupils (and parents) about studying more academic subjects but highlighting and promoting the valued and respected career paths they could lead onto.

British Education Policy

One of the key features of our education system is that at certain points it gives students a choice about what they study. Perhaps the most obvious example is in post-16 education where they get to pick between studying A-levels or a more vocational alternative such as BTEC’s. Similar choices also exist at GCSE level. These choices have important consequences for the student’s future: taking some qualifications shuts off options that would have been available to them had they studied something else. It would be worrying, therefore, if these choices were determined not just by academic ability or personal preference but by social background. Unfortunately the evidence suggests that this is exactly what happens. Controlling for prior academic attainment, one study found that the probability of someone from a high socio-economic background studying academic subject’s post-16 was 79% compared to a 31% chance for those from low socio-economic backgrounds. The…

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