Vocational reforms and the EBacc are threatening engineering

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Government reforms to vocational education and the introduction of a list of English Baccalaureate subjects may be detrimental to the future of engineering, according to a report by the all-party Science and Technology Committee.

Government reforms to vocational education and the introduction of a list of English Baccalaureate subjects may be detrimental to the future of engineering, according to a report by the all-party Science and Technology Committee.

Although it welcomed government plans to include computer science as a fourth science option within the EBacc, the report, Educating Tomorrow’s Engineers, expressed concerns about a potential decline in subjects such as design and technology, which are also essential for engineering.

The committee welcomed plans for a Technical Baccalaureate but said it needed parity with the EBacc if it was to succeed.

The report said that giving the highly acclaimed Engineering Diploma at Level 2 equivalence with one GCSE – although it required the effort and curriculum time of several GCSEs – sent a poor message about the value of engineering.

The Engineering Diploma is currently being redesigned as four separate qualifications.

MPs also expressed concerns over the Department for Education’s lack of clarity on its research budget and use of evidence in decision-making.

It said greater focus was needed on gathering evidence before changes to qualifications were made, and that sufficient time must be available to gauge the effectiveness of policies before the introduction of subsequent reforms.

Andrew Miller, committee chairman, said: “Engineering is crucial to the UK’s economic growth and it is deeply concerning that there is a shortfall in the number of engineers we need. This is likely to get worse unless radical action is taken.

“It is vital that we inspire young people to consider engineering careers and have in place an education system that encourages them to pursue those ambitions.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the report supported claims elsewhere that the government was “not creating a coherent policy for 14 to 19 education”. 

She added: “It is time that the thinking behind the way children and young people are educated moves into the 21st century.” 

For more information and to download the report, visit www.parliament.uk/science


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