Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the announcement by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the Conservative Party conference of plans to introduce a post-16 ‘Advanced British Standard’.
“There is a great deal of merit in the idea of bringing technical and academic qualifications into a single qualification of an Advanced British Standard. We have long called for parity of esteem between technical and academic pathways and we are pleased that this is reflected in this announcement.
“We also support the principle of greater curriculum breadth in post-16 education as the current system is too narrow – at least partly because of previous government reforms which downgraded the status of AS-levels.
“However, while the principles of these proposals are good, the practicalities are daunting because of the severity of the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.
“There aren’t enough teachers to teach existing subjects never mind extend teaching on this scale.
“We’re not convinced that the Prime Minister’s plan for an early career bonus payment for teachers in key shortage subjects in schools and colleges will be anywhere near enough. Teacher shortages are widespread and very problematic in many subjects. This problem requires a much broader strategy to improve pay, conditions and education funding.
“Without this commitment the Prime Minister’s plans for an Advanced British Standard are likely to prove a pipedream.”