applications

16/17 KS4 leavers and apprenticeship schemes

Now that we are a way into the 2016/2017 academic calendar it is a good time to look at a huge test for how the worlds of education and business interact over the coming months.

This academic years Key Stage 4 leavers will be the first to receive their GCSE grades in English Language, English Literature and Maths in the new grading system of 9 – 1. How this compares to the historic A-G grading system is show below

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As the description says, this means that 16/17 leavers will receive a mixture of 9-1 and A-G grades from their GCSE qualifications. Students may also be taking Btec L2s (which report as Distinction, Merit, Pass) and other qualifications such as the much maligned ECDL so will also have different grading schemes in their set of results.

So, a student opening their results envelop in August 2017 might see something like this (from this Ofqual PP):

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This will continue for 17/18 leavers as more GCSEs such as Art, the Sciences, Drama & Geography are accredited in the new manner and then into 18/19 as subjects such as Sociology, D&T & Engineering join them.

The wider impact of these changes throughout the systems of education and employment dependent on understanding the context of those grade indicators could be messy. Getting the message through about the changes to students and their parents is a challenge in itself and one which Ofqual has been keen to gain help from schools but the bigger challenge remains of explaining this to employers. Hints at the scale of the communication challenge can be found in the employer response to the forthcoming apprenticeship levy

If a new funding system that will directly impact a company’s bottom line and their immediate training pipeline is struggling to gain widespread understanding then a seemingly (to those outside education) superficial change to GCSE grading is a difficult concept to gain traction. As anybody working in careers in schools will attest, many speakers from employers still come into school and wish the students good luck in their “O Levels.”

This lack of understanding has immediate impacts. Over the past few and forthcoming weeks many of the school leaver and apprenticeship schemes from larger employers will begin to be advertised for September 2017 starts.

The Airbus Group Engineering Apprenticeships, the Glaxo SmithKline Engineering Apprenticehips and the Manufacturing Apprenticeship at Selex Leonardo are all open for applications at the time of writing (November 2017). All three schemes are for September or Summer 2017 starts, all three are open to applicants who will be leaving Key Stage 4 in summer 2017 and all 3 ask for A-C GCSE requirements.

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Not a mention of 9-1 grades. Yet many of the opportunities at larger employer require applicants to apply via the employers own website where, on the GSK site, the 9-1 scale is mentioned:

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These are just a few examples of the many schemes that will be opened to 16/17 leavers over the next few months. It may add complexity but HR managers need to be including the new grading system in their job descriptions and adverts to smooth applications from younger students. Otherwise mixed messages and the inflexibility of drop down menus on online applications holds potential to discourage and confuse 16/17 leavers and parents from engaging with apprenticeship routes.

In recent years, business organisations have successfully positioned business as a sphere that is keen to engage with education, dissatisfied with the current skills on offer from young workers and with the ability to rapidly react to change. Publications such as the annual CBI Education & Skills survey place the emphasis on what business requires from education. Well, over this application season building up to the summer results, education needs a rapid and clear response from business.

 

 

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No good can come of: Online FE applications

Working in a secondary school with no Sixth Form has its benefits for providing independent CEIAG as I would have to be performing whole feats of invention to not be impartial. One of the challenges is that, when they leave at the end of Year 11, they all leave and your preparation and tracking of students to minimise potential NEET risk and ensure suitable progression pathways has to reflect that.

An increasingly common phenomenon that is making  this much more of a task is the move of FE Colleges, Sixth Forms and other providers to only accept online applications through their websites. It must be a very appealing move for them; they are able to both cut the costs of printing hard copies of forms and reassure themselves they are taking steps to appeal to young people by going online.

Set against a backdrop of Raising the Participation Age, Local Authorities struggling to track their 16-18 residents and the pressure on schools to ensure productive destinations for students, this is an unhelpful step for those of us who work in schools.

Hard copies of application forms mean that we can work with students to complete them, we can use the ‘officialness’ of the form to everyone’s benefit when motivating revision weary minds and it means we can track who has applied to what at where and intervene if necessary. I really hope our students don’t apply for 7 A Levels but if I don’t see their application I can’t promise it. I really hope that our students don’t apply for the Level 3 Public Services course without 4 C’s in their predictions but if I don’t see their application I can’t promise it. I really hope they manage to apply in time and by seeing their application I can promise this.

The obvious push back from the FE sector already severely concerned about school IAG will be that none of the above happens anyway so what difference will it make. There isn’t much of a concrete, data based rebuttal I can give to that other than to plead for more time for schools to begin to grasp their new responsibilities with this work. However this transition conundrum is solved, it will require partnership and collaboration from different education providers that relies as little as possible on hard pressed Local Authorities who will be braced for the full storm of austerity to come. Where ever the fault lines run for current any disconnects between schools and FE providers, removing the major part of the transition equation we do have the potential to assist with won’t help.