Edge lecture sets out vision to 'elevate' practical learning

Published: 16 March 2009 at 16:22

Shadow Minister calls on people to recognise the role skills play in people’s lives and the economy

A lecture, organised by Edge and Anglia Ruskin University, has joined together secondary schools Head Teachers and college Principals from Cambridgeshire to talk about building a world-class education and training framework for the region.

Conservative MP John Hayes, Shadow Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, delivered the second Edge Education Lecture at Anglia Ruskin University. The event was staged at the University’s East Road campus in Cambridge. It attracted around 30 key people involved in education from the Cambridge area who were keen to discover more about the latest developments in practical learning and pose their own direct questions to the Shadow Minister.

Mr Hayes opened the lecture by praising the work of Edge which is dedicated to raising the profile of practical and vocational training. It wants educational standards raised through applying practical experience to learning and providing opportunities to excel through vocational as well as academic studies.  He commented:

“Edge is working extremely hard promoting vocational and practical learning as another way forward for many young people including the most able.”

Speaking on the subject of training young people, Mr Hayes was recently quoted in the House of Commons as saying:

“My party supports apprenticeships because we know that growing skills spreads opportunity, feeds social mobility and boosts our economy.”

During his speech, he pledged to champion the mission to elevate practical learning to increase its status, and end the ‘institutional bias’ that exists against vocational learning.

He said that this message was more important than ever in order for the UK to emerge stronger from the recession. He highlighted the fact that during the good times, the economy failed to grasp the central role skills play in facilitating social justice, social cohesion and social mobility; and that society and the economy had paid the price with fewer people enrolling for further education and apprenticeships.

He talked of the challenge we face as a society to break down social division and revitalise social mobility by making learning more accessible, and the need to move the economy from a world beating manufacturer to a world leading high-tech, high-skills provider. 

Speaking directly about apprenticeships, Mr Hayes commented on the fact that a YouGov survey for Edge found last year that only 24% of teachers agreed that apprenticeships are a good alternative to A Levels, a far smaller proportion than parents (43%), young people (52%) or employers (55%).  He talked about the fact that apprenticeships could be used as a ladder of opportunity to higher education in the future.

John Hayes was elected as Member of Parliament for South Holland and The Deepings. Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Derbyshire North East in the General Elections of 1987 and 1992. Councillor, Nottinghamshire since 1985. Conservative spokesman on Education since 1988 and Chairman of the Conservative Group’s Campaign and Political Committees.

In May 2005, he became a Shadow Minister for Transport. Since December 2007, he has served as the Shadow Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education.

According to Edge, more than one in five young people think they have been led down the wrong educational path, with almost half of these being misdirected by their own parents. Edge challenges parents to stop thinking of academic qualifications as the only route to success. The experts within the organisation believe that parents should be encouraged to reassess their views about their children’s education, listen to what their children really want from work and life and discuss all the education and career options available.