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The perfect education for a person like me: vocational education and the “ordinary”, the “overlooked”, and the under-served 50% . Ann-Marie Bathmaker , Professor of Vocational and Higher Education.

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The perfect education for a person like me: vocational education and the “ordinary”, the “overlooked”, and the under-served 50%

Ann-Marie Bathmaker, Professor of Vocational and Higher Education

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The perfect education for a person like me: vocational education and the “ordinary”, the “overlooked”, and the under-served 50%

Paper presented at Huddersfield Conference on 27 June 2014

Ann-Marie Bathmaker

University of Birmingham

slide5

Outstanding schools struggle to fill headteacher jobs because applicants ‘can’t spell’

26 January 2014

Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governors Association, told The Independent that some candidates even spell the name of the school incorrectly.

Independent online

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Born on the right side:

The Elstree-and-Borehamwood railway line

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This is not my father, but the Open University TV screen shot is about as thrilling as I remember it. My father would sit in front of it for hours.

newsom report 1963 vocational education for girls
Newsom Report 1963: vocational education for girls

The main groups of occupations most widely taken up by girls - jobs in offices, in shops, in catering, work in the clothing industry and other manufacturing trades - can all provide the material for courses at more than one level of ability. For all girls, too, there is a group of interests relating to what many, perhaps most of them, would regard as their most important vocational concern, marriage. It is true that at the age of fourteen and fifteen, this may appear chiefly as preoccupation with personal appearance and boy friends, but many girls are ready to respond to work relating to the wider aspects of homemaking and family life and the care and upbringing of children.

(Newsom, p.37 parag 113)

crowther report 1959 different types of mind
Crowther Report 1959: different types of mind

There is one type of mind which is readily attuned to abstract thinking and can comprehend the meaning of a generalisation. For these minds, the teacher can best proceed by first expounding the principle and then illustrating it, by teaching the rule and its exceptions, and then setting the class to work on examples. This is (in the main) the academic approach. But there are other minds which cannot grasp the general except by way of the particular, which cannot understand what is meant by the rule until they have observed the examples. Some minds are analytical; others can only build up.

(Crowther, 1959: 394, parag 573)

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'Incentives for good behaviour. At school: House points; stars for work and service; public commendation after Assembly. At home: a drink of shandy; staying up late; staying out late; wearing make-up; having a hair-set; use of other people's clothes; money; cigarettes.' Headmistress.

'Outside the very narrow range of their immediate experience, their vocabulary was tragically poverty-stricken.‘

'The school's outstanding strength is its social achievement. The girls are fluent and confident and entertained the visitors with an easy grace which would have done credit to a grammar school sixth form.'

Newsom Report, 1963, p.2

crowther report 1959 a practical and vocational education
Crowther Report 1959: a practical and vocational education

A boy may, however, have something still different in mind when he speaks of a practical education. He may want to use his hands and his mind not so much to create as to invent. The boy with whom we are concerned is one who has pride in his skill of hand and a desire to use that skill to discover how things work, to make them work and to make them work better. The tradition to which he aspires to belong is the modern one of the mechanical man whose fingers are the questioning instruments of thought and exploration. (392, parag 571)

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Renewed focus on vocational education: Michael Gove, 2011

[…] under the last Government

practical and technical education lost its way. And that is because, despite all the rhetoric, their heart wasn’t in it.

By heart I mean a passionate understanding of, and commitment to, the joy of technical accomplishment, the beauty of craft skills, and the submission to vocational disciplines which lie at the heart of a truly practical education.

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for a long time our party has been focused on getting 50% of young people into university. I believe that was right. But now it’s time to put our focus on the forgotten 50% who do not go to university.

Rediscovering the forgotten 50%:

Ed Miliband, 2012

who may be at risk of unemployment
…who may be at risk of unemployment

What has happened in the last decade to the ‘other 50 per cent’ — the young adults who do not go to university? Are they more at risk of joining the ranks of the NEETS (those not in education, employment or training) than in previous years? How well are they being served by the education system?

(Demos and the Private Equity Foundation Report, Birdwell et al, 2011: 17)

1959 caught in the middle
1959: Caught in the middle

“the boys and girls whose full-time schooldays end at 15 or 16 – in any case long before they are 18 – but who continue to spend a significant part of their time in further education, training or instruction, either full-time in an institution other than school or […] part-time.”

A quarter of young people, caught between academic stayers-on and the ones who leave for employment

The Crowther Report on 15-18 year olds (1959)

2014 part of the crowded middle
2014: part of the ‘crowded middle’

Around 40% of young people hovering above and below a ‘C’ average GCSE score

who do not follow a 2 year A-level programme post-16

In between those destined for HE and those in apprenticeship or classified as NEET

(Hodgson and Spours, 2014; Skills Commission 2013: 17)

why don t they all just do a levels
Why don’t they all just do A-levels?
  • Lower ability: ‘pupils of average or less than average ability’ (Newsom Report, 1963)
  • Or lower achievers
  • ‘Practical’ not ‘academic’ minds (Crowther Report, 1959)
  • Who WANT technical and vocational education
so what is vocational education
So what IS vocational education?

What it is not:

NOT ‘academic’ education

NOT professional education

What it is:

pre-vocational preparation, general vocational education, work-related learning, work-based learning, higher vocational education (for associated professionals and technicians)

endless change to qualifications
Endless change to qualifications

1970s Certificate of Further Education

1985 Certificate in Pre-Vocational Education (CPVE)

1980s Diploma in Vocational Education

1983 BTEC First Certificates and BTEC Diplomas.

1993 General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQ)

2000 Advanced Vocational Certificate in Education (AVCE)

2005 Applied A level

2008-2012 14-19 Diploma

2014Applied general qualifications and tech levels

my research
My research

Enactments of policy and lived experience of this expansion of broad, general vocational education, from school through to higher education

Interactions of biography and historystructure and agency

research projects
Research projects
  • PhD study on GNVQs: The perfect education for a person like me
  • The FurtherHigher Project: ‘College for all’ through HE in FE in England
  • The Paired Peers Project: HE and social mobility - Classed experiences of higher education in an elite and a post-1992 university
  • University Technical Colleges: a working-class, vocational pathway from 14 onwards?
  • Becoming a teacher in further education
  • Knowledge in vocational education project: Curriculum: knowledge, teaching, learning and assessment
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Ordinary lives do not provide enough spectacle to gain our attention. The route to visibility: Big Brother house

1990s gnvq the perfect education
1990s: GNVQ - the perfect education

Well, they give you more help with the work, tell you about the work when you’re doing it, stuff like that, so it helps us out. And it helps them out because we complete the work on time you see. And we get respect from the teachers.

(Chris, GNVQ Foundation student, Bathmaker, 2002: 258)

getting through
Getting through

Come in say June, you’ll see all of them in the library, just coming to the desks, and trying to do their work, trying to tell the next man, “here man, I’m trying to write” or grabbing every chair. Teachers go “The rush is in. The rush is in! An no-one’s done their assignment this year, not even one.

(Waqas, Advanced Business GNVQ, Bathmaker, 2002: 271)

but not necessarily getting on
But not necessarily getting on

AMB: Are there bad things about GNVQ?

Ajit: It’s just how it’s rated in the public eye, it’s like GNVQ, from a teacher’s point of view, Uni people, like Uni lecturers, they don’t really approve of GNVQ, they think the A-level way is the proper way to go about it.

(Ajit, Advanced Business GNVQ, Bathmaker, 2002: 267)

2000s idealised futures through expanded he
2000s: Idealised futures through expanded HE

Gaining ‘educational capital’ for future employment in Sports Therapy:

With the build up to the 2012 London Olympics, and concern over the health of the nation, Sport is playing an increasingly important role in society and in people’s leisure times. There is increasing demand for the skills provided by this new qualification.

From Newcastle College’s website: http://www.ncl-coll.ac.uk/courseinfo/courseinfo.asp?courseid=4517Accessed 25 April 2008.

realised futures
Realised futures

Sports therapists primarily will be self-employed initially. You know, this is an industry whereby there is a lot of work but not a lot of jobs. If you’re asking me “are there a load of jobs?” as in being employed…. if you look at any of your papers you won’t find a big section for sports therapy jobs, it’s too new. However, the potential of work is huge, absolutely huge.

Yvonne Tainton (programme leader, sports therapy, FurtherHigher project, 2006, AYS001: 1)

realised futures1
Realised futures

A guy came in last week from the Society of Sports Therapists and he said trying to get in with a football team is horrendous, he said there’s 40,000 clients registered with the FA ... that’s a lot but they’re not all of them going to be willing to pay us money and that’s what we want. So his response really wasn’t that great with regards to looking for a job. And I think the basic thing is we need to get basic skills, you know, we need to go and do different courses on top of our degree which isn’t very helpful when you’re in lots of debt and have got to pay hundreds of pounds to go on a two day course.

Carol, Sports Therapy Y3 student, FurtherHigher project (09/3: 29)

2010s wanting to be someone
2010s: Wanting to be someone

I was quite… I was quite happy, I was like… because most of the teachers in most schools have said I’m never going to amount to nothing. Or get anywhere. But now I’m sitting in one of the biggest Engineering schools in England.

(Student in UTC project, 2014)

2010s utcs a second chance
2010s: UTCs - a second chance?

What do you want to do at the end of year 11?

Hopefully get an apprenticeship, then get a job, just settle down

And will here help you get an apprenticeship, will they help with that?

Yeah, they will. All the teachers that have taught me in the workshop have said, “I’m gonnagive the people who come in your name and tell them to watch you”, so I reckon I’ll definitely be able to get one.

(Student in UTC B, 2014)

n ot always the perfect education
Not always the perfect education

And, what about the construction?

Oh, um, I’m not allowed to… I’m only allowed to do 10 minutes of woodwork.

Why?

Cos er, the other day, like last week, I got a hammer and then I went like that (points pretend hammer), and used it as a gun to pretend and then, now I’m only allowed 10 minutes a day.

I never got excluded at my old school and I was much worse, and I’ve been excluded a lot here.

How many times have you been excluded?

Er, I think it was like seven times when I was speaking to Miss B, but that was like a few weeks ago. I haven’t been excluded since.

(Student in UTC D - A14, 2014)

the diversity diversion dilemma in vocational education
The diversity/diversion dilemma in vocational education

Social structures

illusions of modern times, of society becoming fairer while consistently failing to deliver a more open society (Ken Roberts, 2011)

rhetoric of equality and freedom intensifies while sociologists document ever-deepening inequalities (Bates and Riseborough, 1993)

Social experience

Wanting to be someone (Bathmaker, 2002)

‘I’ll be a nothing’ (Reay and Wiliam, 1999)

The perfect education for a person like me (Bates, 1993; Bathmaker, 2001)

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Bodenlose

Niedergeschlagenheit?

(Das Boot, 1981)

diversity or diversion
Diversity or diversion?

The challenge of both diversity and diversion:

Heroic policy

vs

Policy enactments

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Policy reforms need to be informed by critical research, not just by “what works”: a big mountain to climb, but a significant endeavour

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The perfect education for a person like me: vocational education and the “ordinary”, the “overlooked”, and the under-served 50%

Ann-Marie Bathmaker

Professor of Vocational and Higher Education