More school leavers shun university in favour of apprenticeships

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Rising numbers of school leavers are pursuing alternative options to university. A-level pass rates could rise this week as “practically-minded” students shun traditional exams in favour of vocational courses and apprenticeships, according to a leading academic.

Sixth-formers who would previously have struggled with “peripheral” A-levels are now more likely to take practical qualifications amid increased awareness about alternative routes into the workplace, it was claimed.

Prof Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said the move could push up the overall proportion of test papers given a good grade – A* to C.

The comments come just days before around 300,000 students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A-level results.

Last year, the proportion of A-levels scoring at least an A grade fell for the first time in more than 20 years following a toughening up of the marking process.

But Prof Smithers said it was possible that A* to C results could go up by tenths of a per cent.

“Apprenticeships are attracting a lot of attention,” he said. “Many more pupils who have practical talents maybe inclined to build a platform to move into apprenticeships rather than take peripheral A-levels.

“For too long A-levels have been the be-all and end-all, and some students have struggled to reflect their abilities through them. Some students with strong practical abilities have struggled to reflect their true abilities through them. Increasingly, they are turning to practical qualifications like BTECs en route to apprenticeships.”

Source: The Telegraph

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