'New vocationalism' hailed at Milton Abbey Conference
11th November 2015

Milton Abbey was delighted to welcome parents, journalists, schools and educational agents to the recent ‘Future of Vocational Learning’ conference. The conference, which was run in collaboration with Arts University Bournemouth and featured Vice Chancellor, Stuart Bartholomew CBE, as guest speaker, sought to introduce the concept of ‘new vocationalism’ to the audience.

Stuart began by summing up the extent to which career choices for independently educated pupils have become largely predictable, with many pupils following pre-carved pathways into law or medicine, for example, which often don’t suit their particular skills, talents or preferences but instead conform to the traditional notion of academia as superior to vocationalism. Whilst other countries attribute a high level of esteem to technical or vocational courses, he highlighted how in the UK a stigma of ‘doing’ as inferior to ‘thinking’ has proven harder to break down. The emergence of ‘new vocationalism’, of developing powers of learning, transferable skills and a preparedness for the workplace, can help combat this ‘rear view mirror’ scenario, where young people are driving forward with their futures with their eyes firmly fixed on a past which has gone before them.

Given that higher education choices are largely defined by qualifications gained at GCSE and A Level, the conference provided a platform for Milton Abbey to set out its comprehensive programme of nine BTEC courses to the audience, currently including Equine Management, Countryside Management, Hospitality, Music, Performing Arts, Sport, Business, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and Creative Media Production, with plans for additional courses to be added in the near future. Milton Abbey’s Headmaster, Magnus Bashaarat, comments, “With UCAS rebuilding their points tariff to incorporate BTEC qualifications and now just a handful of universities not recognising BTECs as entry qualifications, vocationalism is gaining ground and Milton Abbey is proud to be leading the way by offering the broadest range of BTEC courses in the independent sector.” He continues, “University is not the only option, however, and a vocational pathway equips those pupils choosing to proceed directly into the world of work with a toolkit of key employability skills which are so desirable to companies and organisations today.”

A recent survey conducted by The Daily Telegraph ranked Arts University Bournemouth number one in a list of universities whose students successfully progress into full time employment on completion of their studies, scoring an impressive 97.4%. Stuart Bartholomew credits this to the vocationalised nature of AUB’s offering, commenting, “Courses at AUB offer students the chance to work collaboratively on real projects, with real companies, and with real career destinations in view. Like Milton Abbey, we pride ourselves on being a specialist education provider, equipping young people with a portfolio of transferable skills enabling them to thrive in today’s workplace.”

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