HC Deb 23 April 1991 vol 189 c891
7. Mr. Patchett

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he is considering regarding the reform of qualifications for post 16-year-olds.

Mr. Eggar

My right hon. and learned Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Employment are considering a number of proposals for improving qualifications for post 16-year-olds. We intend to publish a White Paper shortly, setting out our plans for education and training for the 16 to 19 age group.

Mr. Patchett

When will the Government sort out the jungle of post-16 qualifications and devise a system that meets the needs of the 1990s?

Mr. Eggar

The National Council for Vocational Qualifications has made significant progress, but there is still some ground to be made up. We hope to see considerable simplification of the existing vocational system over the next two years. I share the hon. Gentleman's concern.

Mr. Hannam

In welcoming the progress that has been made, may I ask my hon. Friend to consider in particular the problems that confront disabled students, who often do not reach the necessary standards of levels by the age of 16 and who need special help and attention between the ages of 16 and 19?

Mr. Eggar


Mr. Matthew Taylor

Does the Minister personally accept the argument that the present academic-vocational divide should be ended in favour of a single system? Does he agree that such a system should apply to those who leave school at 16 and that there should be guaranteed access to it by 17 and 18-year-olds, so that they may achieve nationally recognised qualifications, which may even lead them to a college or university education?

Mr. Eggar

We certainly need to dispel any idea of an academic-vocational divide, which is not helpful. We also need, as I believe the hon. Gentleman accepts, dramatically to increase the post-16, full-time staying-on rate. The hon. Gentleman's question raises a number of issues to which there are various answers, but I am broadly in agreement with him.