From this year, as part of the government’s response to Professor Alison Wolf’s Review of Vocational Education, the participation age is being raised so that young people in England will need to remain in some form of education or training until they are 17. From 2015, this will be raised again to 18.
Alongside this, pupils in England who do not achieve at least a C grade in English and maths at GCSE will be required to continue studying these subjects at post-16. Education Secretary Michael Gove stressed their importance when he said, ‘Good qualifications in English and maths are what employers demand before all others. They are, quite simply, the most important vocational skills a young person can have.’
Indeed, English and maths are amongst our most popular subjects here at NEC. Last month, GCSEs in maths and English made up the top percentage of our total enrolments. CEO Ros Morpeth agrees that these core qualifications open many doors. But she also points out that a struggling student may need a different approach, and also that sometimes it’s not until you leave school that you realise you might have missed out.
This is where the flexibility and versatility of distance learning can really help. One of the reasons NEC was set up 50 years ago was to provide an alternative and more flexible route to these and other essential qualifications, making it possible to fit a student’s learning around their own particular circumstances.
NEC’s learners are of all ages and backgrounds, including those who left school at 16 without good GCSEs but now want to gain them, and and older learners who need to earn while they learn. With distance learning there is no need to attend regular classes at a physical location, so learners can can time their studies around a job or other commitments.
Learners such as 18-year-old James, who wanted to both move abroad and continue his education using the English system. He found NEC’s distance learning courses to be the perfect solution and completed a total of 10 courses including GCSEs and A levels. Tom is another example, a father who had to juggle his studies alongside working full-time and spending time with his child. He was referred to NEC by the Open University and succeeded in studying for GCSE English.
NEC also works with schools to provide a flexible alternative by delivering courses through distance learning, for example where there is a timetable clash at the school, or if a popular subject – such as maths or English – becomes oversubscribed. We aim to continue to do what we can to help, in the event that the government’s changes put a strain on schools trying to provide for post-16 students.
At NEC we are passionate about opening access to second chances in education. Whether you are a school or college or individual, if you believe that the flexible and versatile alternative provided by distance learning could make a difference to your circumstances, we would love to hear how we can help you.
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