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Clause 1

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:15 pm on 31st January 2008.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (14-19 Reform and Apprenticeships) 1:15 pm, 31st January 2008

Some qualifications have to have both—indeed, most skills need both, although it could be argued that some vocational skills are entirely unacademic. At both school level and beyond, the chances are that acquiring a vocational competence involves some academic elements. That is true of all the vocational competences relating to engineering, to give one example.

One of the ways in which colleges attract people to core skills courses is by offering them vocational courses. If people want to be carpenters or plumbers, they must be able to read, measure, weigh and so on, which is why an implicit academic offer is part of such courses. Notwithstanding that, we should be proud of the vocational character of diplomas. I do not want them to be academicised. The reason there is so much emphasis on academic education is that we are embarrassed by vocational learning. I want us to be proud of vocational learning so that it can stand alone. I want us to understand that practical accomplishment can deliver individual work and is good for the community and the nation. I am not convinced by the addition of extra diplomas. They are unnecessary not only because they compete with A-levels, but they are an implicit attack—