Pay schools by results to improve GCSE grades, say apprentice trainers
Schools should be subject to a payment-by-results regime to improve GCSE attainment in English and maths, say training providers who coach most of England's apprentices.
The providers believe that this radical reform would help address employers' complaints about young people not having the necessary basic skills to make them job ready.
The call comes after the introduction of new government requirements for apprentices to pass GCSE-equivalent tests in the two core subjects as part of the successful completion of an apprenticeship programme.
Training providers are being asked to rectify in a very short time and for very little money what 11 years of statutory schooling and thousands of pounds' worth of public investment have failed to achieve for more than a third of school leavers.
In a new position paper on improving the life chances of young people in a very challenging economic environment, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) argues that 'output related funding', which is commonplace in state-funded post-16 vocational education and employment programmes, should now be applied to academy and secondary school funding in England.
AELP proposes that in the event of a D grade or lower in one of the core subjects, a percentage of pupil funding should be held back and redirected to help pay for remedial English and maths provision as part of a young person's pre-apprenticeship training.
The association has welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister's announcement last week to give schools extra money for Year 7 students who struggled at Key Stage 2 but believes that this measure combined with AELP's proposal which is directly related to Year 11 attainment will, as a carrot and stick approach, form a powerful incentive for schools to improve their provision.
AELP points out that with demand for high quality apprenticeship places growing, many employers are starting to turn away young people if they don't already have the desired 'pass' grades with the situation worsened by this summer's controversy over the GCSE English results. In the event of not achieving a C grade, young people must either sit the new 'functional skills' tests within an apprenticeship framework or achieve the required level of attainment in some form of pre-apprenticeship or preparatory training.
AELP advocates in its paper that functional skills tests should now be removed from full apprenticeship frameworks and placed in a government-funded preparatory module. It says that the idea makes even more sense in the light of the tougher grading proposed as part of the government's plan to replace GCSEs with EBCs and the preparations for raising the participation age to 18.
Graham Hoyle OBE, AELP's chief executive, said: "Payment by results might seem a radical idea for schools, but it is nothing new for independent learning providers, including charities, who are providing support for some of the most disadvantaged young people in society.
"Reforming the funding system in this way would surely offer an incentive to schools to reduce the current failure rate, ensuring a higher proportion of pupils leave statutory education ready and able to be selected onto an apprenticeship programme or be job ready. We really must be bold in tackling the common complaint from employers that too many school leavers lack the basic skills in literacy and numeracy which they need for the world of work."