Thinktank reopens British baccalaureate debate


The UK's current school qualification system should be given a drastic overhaul to allow for the creation of British-style baccalaureate exams, the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) has claimed.

Ahead of Thursday's A-level results in England and Wales, which are expected to reveal a record number of pupils achieving the highest grades, the ippr says that that government needs to introduce baccalaureates to halt the trend of large numbers of students dropping out of full-time education.

The thinktank's own research suggests that one in four of all 16 to 18-year-olds are currently not in education or training, which compares unfavourably to other European countries such as Germany, where the figure is one in ten.

Richard Brooks, associate director at ippr, explained that a new qualification-system based around an academic and vocational structure would encourage teenagers to stay in education, and he believes that curriculum reform is the best way to achieve this.

"Practically all young people in the UK should now be in education or training until they are 18 or 19-years-old. Yet not only are too many still missing out, but current policies don't seem to be increasing the numbers of those who stay on in learning until the end of their teenage years."

Mr Brooks stated that the introduction of new baccalaureate-style exams would have a similar effect as when O-levels were replaced by GCSEs in the 1990s, with more teenagers staying on at school or college.

The government has pledged to review the country's educational curriculum in 2008 as part of a commitment made when rejecting similar concerns raised by the then chief inspector of schools, Mike Tomlinson.

Yesterday the Confederation of British Industry warned that UK businesses were being forced to look overseas for students with science qualifications, as British school leavers and university graduates lacked the basic knowledge to succeed.

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