8th November 2017
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Schools need to keep an eye on degree apprenticeships, according to the chair of the Independent Schools Council
The advantages of going to university are "less than they were", the chair of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) said today.
Barnaby Lenon, ISC chair, said that independent schools should “keep an eye” on degree apprenticeships as an alternative to the traditional route into higher education.
Speaking to attendees of a Westminster Education Forum event, Mr Lenon said “accurate, up-to-date” university entry advice is “more important” than ever as the quality of universities varies.
He said: “Far too many students these days sign up to a course at university as they believe that’s the only option for them.”
But Mr Lenon noted that recent government data showed that the average earnings of some male graduates at the “weakest” universities suggested a lack of value in going to the institution.
“I would say that the advantages of going to university may seem slightly less now than they were."
On degree-apprenticeships, Mr Lenon said: “The number of subjects and companies will grow and the expectation is that it will grow quite quickly.
“If you know you want to be a management consultant, you can go to a good firm like KPMG and they will pay for you to go to university for three years."
He added: “[Going to university] is still going to be the correct route for the vast majority of our students, but it would be a shame if people who are responsible for careers advice in our schools weren’t keeping an eye on these sort of developments.”
See also: University Advice
Private schools should join multi-academy trusts, says ISC chair
Barnaby Lenon has said that private schools would do well to talk to MATs such as United Learning, which combines a mix of state and private schools.
He believes they can make savings on back-office costs by joining a MAT, which would also grant them access to a large staff body and allow for “roving subject specialists” to drive up teacher quality.
“Anyone thinking about the possible benefits of this should go and speak to Jon Coles,” he told delegates at a Westminster Education Forum, referring to the chief executive of the United Learning.
“You can find out what the merits of being partnered with other schools are. They seem to me to be many.”
He was responding to a question about whether the independent sector could learn about efficiency savings from MATs, and noted that the new academies minister, Lord Agnew, wants them to have between 10 and 20 schools.
He agreed it was “difficult” for private schools to move from their current positions to the one which some MATs enjoy in which costs are driven down, and staff expertise can be shared across the group.
Joining a MAT could give private schools access to these advantages and also allow them to share their expertise, he argued.
Private schools also face challenges with their public image, both at home and abroad, he warned.
At home, he said, there is “clearly a lack of patience” with institutions that “appear to support privilege”. He cited threats from political parties to remove private schools’ charitable status and charge VAT on fees.
It is ”crucial” for private schools to increase the number of pupils on low or no fees to show they are aiding social mobility.
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