December 13 2013 Latest news:
By Marijke Cox, Reporter
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Three Kent secondary schools are to begin trialling a pioneering vocational qualification as part of the International Baccalaureate
A groundbreaking new version of the respected International Baccalaureate combining academic subjects with vocational study is to be trialled in three Kent schools.
The career-led qualification looks to create a respected alternative to vocational studies which are often regarded as “Mickey Mouse” courses.
From September the IB Career-related Certificate (IBCC) will be offered to students at Hartsdown Technology College in Margate, King Ethelbert School in Birchington and Northfleet School for Girls.
Executive head teacher of King Ethelbert School, Paul Luxmoore – who is also head of Dane Court Grammar School in Broadstairs and recently appointed to lead Walmer Science College following a poor Ofsted inspection – said the IBCC gives academic credibility to vocational courses, such as health and social care and business studies.
“There is still a view that vocational subjects are Mickey Mouse, but level three BTec, for example, is a tough qualification to get,” he said.
“It’s largely because people don’t understand, and A-levels and GSCEs are what people are used to.
“Divisions between grammar schools and secondary moderns is still something that plagues us and this IBCC will help give vocational subjects a respectable image.”
Pupils who feel they are unable to take a full International Baccalaureate diploma – a qualification seen as more academically demanding than A-levels – will have the opportunity to gain access to the IB through the new IBCC, by choosing a minimum of two IB subjects and combining them with vocational study, such as a BTec.
They would also need to study a number of core programmes, such as critical thinking skills or a language, although this could be at a GCSE standard.
Mr Luxmore said: “If academic subjects are the only things on offer it disengages a huge number of the population.
“There has to be a quality alternative to purely academic qualifications and the IBCC strengthens that.
“The IB diploma is a tough academic qualification to get, but the IBCC is typically for students who find some subjects hard and don’t feel they would be able to do a full IB.”
Mr Luxmoore added: “This could be something big – it’s likely to be very successful.”
The head, however, said fears had been raised that the new qualification could dilute the IB brand, something he did not agree with.
He said the IBCC added a vocational slant and would not impact the challenging IB.
“Academic study is well established, but vocational is less well respected,” he said.
“This creates a huge problem nationally. There are students who struggle to access A-levels but want to study post-16.”
A spokesman from non-profit educational foundation International Baccalaureate said while the IB diploma programme continued to be the primary offering for university-bound students, there needed to be more choice for 16-19-year-old students.
“We believe the IBCC bridges the gap between academic and career-related programmes, allowing highly motivated career-oriented students to also have the opportunity to take advantage of an IB education,” he said.
“Schools will now be able to offer more choice to those students who may not wish to take the full IB Diploma programme but instead want to relate their academic studies to their career-related aspirations.”
The trial will start from September in the Kent schools and IBCC will be offered at Dane Court Grammar School in 2012.
The qualification is only available for schools authorised to offer the IB diploma programme.