ASCL is extremely concerned about the plans to reduce the number of funded qualifications available to students at all levels. However, we appreciate that this consultation focuses on the regulation of a subset of qualifications, rather than the policy decision itself. We agree that it is essential that funded qualifications are of a high quality, and have a clear purpose leading to good outcomes, including higher studies. We are concerned, however, that limiting the range of qualifications limits choice and outcomes for students.
At level 2 and below in particular, the landscape is complex, with a long list of qualifications currently approved for public funding. The task of reforming qualifications at level 2 and below so that there will be fewer, higher-quality qualifications and a simpler landscape is particularly challenging, as many of these qualifications serve a dual purpose of leading both to employment and to further study. Destinations for students following programmes at level 2 and below include taking academic and technical qualifications, moving into skilled employment, and moving into employment with training (such as apprenticeships). Far from reducing their choices at present, taking these qualifications enables students to keep their options as open as possible.
Schools and colleges are experienced at providing appropriate options and advice for their students. Narrowing students’ options to a choice between academic GCSEs and A levels or technical qualifications could negatively impact the government’s aims for social mobility and closing the disadvantage gap.
Full response to consultation