Pioneering Exam Plan to Raise Job Prospects
Byline: Alan Jewell
KNOWSLEY is to become one of the first local authorities in the country to pilot vocational GCSEs.
From September this year, all Year 10 pupils will join the Knowsley 14-19 Collegiate, a partnership between schools and training providers aimed at boosting job prospects and exam results among the borough's pupils.
Organisations already involved in the scheme include the council, Knowsley Community College, Merseyside Learning and Skills Council and the Greater Merseyside Connexions Service, a careers advisory body.
Eight subjects are being developed nationally while three will be piloted in the first year in Knowsley; science, leisure and tourism and information communication technology (ICT), with more added next year.
The government is providing pounds 38m to support the introduction of vocational GCSEs and may eventually start vocational A-Levels.
Education bosses say the scheme will provide a more flexible and relevant curriculum for pupils, tailored to individual needs and aptitudes. Some students will spend up to 50pc of their school time studying vocational courses. A small number are due to study the GCSEs from September.
A vocational skills centre for training and teaching is planned and is likely to be situated in Kirkby. A venue under consideration is Knowsley Community College's campus in the town.
The council hope it will be the country's first centre of excellence for 14 to 19 education, offering training opportunities in manufacturing, engineering and construction.
Each pre-16 pupil in the 14-19 Collegiate will remain on a school roll, which will deliver core subjects, support, guidance and mentoring. Other aspects of a pupil's curriculum may be accessed at other schools, Knowsley Community College or the workplace.
There will also be an increase in online learning, and master classes using video conferencing will start.
The council is waiting to hear if they have been successful in a bid for pounds 500,000 funding from the Department of Education and Skills, plus additional money from the Learning and Skills Council. …