A period of transition, choices and decisions
Learners face major changes during the 14-19 phase, not least because this is the time when young people develop behaviours and attitudes associated with the transition to adulthood. These changes affect their perspectives on school, their attachment to different subjects and their aspirations for further education and training. The educational provision which learners experience also changes at this stage. Some have to cope with the challenge of multiple border crossings between school, further education, higher education and work. The size of the challenges for those who have to negotiate a number of moves between these different environments is not always acknowledged.
Issue How to provide specialist forms of education and training without undermining learning progress through multiple transitions?
The transitional nature of the 14 – 19 phase also draws attention to the importance of choice and constraints, and the consequences of decisions and non-decisions for learners. There is universal agreement, in principle, that young people and their families need to receive information about entitlements and options at appropriate times. For instance, there are proposals for online prospectuses which will provide high quality, accessible information. However, such information and guidance must be made easily available to anyone in the age group, including those currently not participating in education or government-supported training programmes.
Issue How to enable well informed choices, and ensure that information and opportunities are available to all?
Some individuals choose to follow well-established paths, notably the academic track, that have clear trajectories with well-understood processes and destinations. Those who do not follow this path are faced with a set of less familiar choices, where outcomes may be uncertain and it is less clear how to choose between the options.
Issue Is it best to offer more hybrid programmes to engage more learners (for example, mixing vocational and general education units), or would this risk destabilising qualifications and pathways that are currently well understood?
Knowledge, skills and the economy
The goal of making young people better educated, better trained and more highly skilled than previous generations has an explicit economic dimension as well as reflecting social and educational goals, although there is no universal agreement on these objectives. The UK economy is partly