Tomlinson: The Dilemma

A look at how the Tomlinson Report posed a dilemma for English education Part one of a two-part series looking at the crisis in England’s secondary education system, and how the Tomlinson Report proposes to solve it.

At age 16 pupill attainment is low and the drop out rate is high, at age 18 grades are inflated and key skills are missing. The Report aims to rectify this by replacing the existing qualifications framework with a single diploma.

This presents the system with a massive dilemma. Experts like Professor Alan Smithers and teachers like Francis Gilbert remain sceptical about a qualification where all forms of learning are equally valued and equally accessible.

So if Tomlinson has got it wrong, what should we do to fix England’s ailing secondary system? The sceptics argue that we should work with what we’ve got and maintain a separate vocational sector. This would perhaps mean a system similar to that of Germany and could mean the end of the vocational maze that currently traps the unwary.

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