[The] analysis suggests that there may be further lessons for [UK) from the German system and others from the French which would enable it to move rapidly to an effective and successful system. In particular:
• France and Germany promote high standards of general education throughout school years for all pupils.
Although this country’s reforms aim to ensure high standards of general education before 16, a rigorous system of general education must be enforced for those following the vocational route post-16. Germany promotes high standards through a selective system from 11-15/ 16 in which teaching is pitched to levels of ability. In France and Germany, for those who follow vocational education programmes, teaching continues in such subjects as language, mathematics, history/ geography/social sciences. General teaching is combined with the applied and theoretical content for the vocational course.
• Dedicated courses offered in the lower secondary years to all pupils can introduce vocational and technological subjects as pupils explore their interests and abilities.
In Germany’s selective system this is the rule. In France at lower secondary school such dedicated courses are in general offered with timetabled time.
• Pupils are inspired and encouraged during school years to follow the technological pathway with the abler encouraged to follow through to tertiary education.
France includes obligatory technological teaching for all pupils before 16 and both it and Germany offer special courses during school years to equip able pupils for the technological pathway later on at universities or the grands écoles. With teachers who are academically and technologically qualified, much of the ground work can be covered at school, thus curbing the higher costs which would otherwise be incurred to cover the same work at tertiary stage.
• Differentiation and selection after 16 allow for different standards in each of the academic, vocational and technological routes. It is reinforced by a variety of qualifications offered to stretch different ability levels to their full potential.
In both France and Germany the system after 16 is selective based on ability and aptitude. Both countries have a diverse qualifications system with a variety of school leaving qualifications, pitched at different academic and vocational levels for 18/19 year olds. In this way different aptitudes and abilities can more easily be stretched to their full potential as they continue education or specific training. The German system facilitates the preparation of all to take their place at a later stage in the world of work, with continuing education and training available especially for those who take a shorter training period.
• During school years the most able pupils are encouraged to excel and reach their full potential.
In Germany and France high academic achievers are encouraged to excel at school age with specialist courses, programmes and teaching. In Germany there is a selective secondary school system from 11 – 18. In France, a number of lycées provide the specialist teaching for the Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Écoles (CPGE), a two year qualification to prepare for the entrance exam to the grandes écoles. The standard is equivalent to the first two years in university.
•The most successful businesses can be encouraged to collaborate with central government on shaping vocational education and training.
The German model suggests that the most successful businesses and industry invest and participate in the apprenticeship scheme, are heavily involved in the formation and play a major part through the chambers in shaping the curriculum and courses, the qualifications system and providing trainers and assessors alike.
•High academic and vocational standards are the rule for teachers in the subjects they teach at school.
In France and Germany secondary age teachers are qualified to university degree level. German vocational education teachers are expected to have the vocational qualifications in the subject plus experience in teaching it at school. Those who also teach general subjects are expected to have the relevant academic qualification.
•Differentiation combined with distinct and separate schools in the vocational education and training system promote the specialist pathways and serve to attract, build and develop the teaching teams in the different sectors.
France and Germany have different schools for different pathways post 16, with considerable differentiation between institutions, to allow for specialisation, ability and aptitutde. These systems are not uniform and the model and its ability to attract specialist teaching is reinforced by promoting distinct and separate schools.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Reversing decline: vocational training and education for a highly skilled workforce