We’re delighted to be working with Uni’s not for me, a new website run by a group of young people (and a couple of oldies…) to help young people make informed decisions about their futures.
April 17, 2012
Uni’s Not For Me Launches Sixth Sense Campaign
ONLY ONE IN TEN BELIEVE THE MAIN PURPOSE OF A-LEVELS IS TO PREPARE YOUNG PEOPLE FOR THE WORLD OF WORK
Just weeks after Education Secretary Michael Gove revealed that he is planning to hand control of A-Levels to universities in response to fears that they are failing to prepare children for higher education, the so-called “gold standard” qualification has suffered a further blow.
Research by YouGov for new career development website Uni’s Not For Me shows that only 10 per cent of adults believe the main purpose of the exam is to prepare young people for the world of work, although according to research from 2011 nearly half of 18-year-olds plan to give both higher education and apprenticeships a miss.
Uni’s Not For Me ’s Sixth Sense campaign challenges the Department of Education to overhaul the A-Level system and to acknowledge that thousands of ambitious young people need an A-level syllabus that prepares them for their careers.
Uni’s Not For Me co-founder Sarah Wrixon says: “The Education Secretary has already admitted that A-Levels are failing to prepare young people adequately for university and our research shows that they are also failing to prepare them for work or life in general. So if they’re not catering for those who do want to go to university and they’re not catering for those who don’t, it’s hard to see exactly what their purpose is. And there’s no doubt that with students having to pay enormous fees and shocking levels of graduate unemployment, we really have to rethink the default position whereby ‘everyone’ goes to university.”
Sixth Sense calls for a more holistic approach to the final two years of school; a new A-Level system that provides practical skills that will be of use whether they intend to go to university, straight into work, or to pursue a vocational training course such as an apprenticeship; and an end to league tables that measure the value of a school purely on its ability to churn out A grades and potential graduates. Wrixon continues, “We’d like to see league tables based on how adept a school is at helping individual children find the right path for them and providing them with useful life skills as well as academic support. At many schools the last two years offer a great array of enriching activities – community work, drama, debating, music, sport and study outside the exam syllabus, and so on. Plus, just because you don’t want to go to university doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from being around your more academic peers and sharing a stimulating working environment. This is about alternative ambition, not lack of ambition.”
Wrixon co-founded Uni’s Not For Me with her daughter, Hattie, who left school after AS-Levels when she realised A-Levels were regarded only as a stepping stone to university. Hattie says: “I thought long and hard about going to university. Once I had decided it wasn’t the option for me my A-Level courses became irrelevant so I felt a wiser decision was to leave school and study for a professional diploma at a business college. I’m excited at the prospect of developing a new venture.”
Notes to editors
Uni’s Not For Me was founded to give a campaigning voice for young people considering alternatives to university. It aims to become the number one resource for advice, peer comment and resources for 15 – 18 year olds, their parents, their teachers and potential employers. It has been shaped and developed by a young team of non-graduates and graduates, with some guidance from a couple of oldies.
Uni’s Not for Me’s Sixth Sense Manifesto:
- That A-Levels (or a new equivalent) should be shaped by the requirements of employers as well as universities.
- That a sixth form education should be a holistic experience preparing young people for the world of work and adulthood, as well as for university.
- That young people should be properly prepared to apply for work and apprenticeships as well as for university.
- That teachers should be allowed to inspire young people to learn, and explore their particular strengths and interests, without always teaching to the test.
- That school league tables should no longer be based purely on academic performance but on a school’s ability to prepare young people to benefit society.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2014 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th – 10th April 2012. The survey was
carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
 Research conducted by myvouchercodes.co.uk in May 2011.
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