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Increased flexibility in the secondary school curriculum

13 January 2010

From September 2010 sixty students in Jersey will enjoy an opportunity to study new vocational courses and training alongside their traditional academic subjects. Funded by the Department for Education, Sport and Culture and the Jersey Skills Board, Year 10 students aged 14 -15 years old, will for the first time, access and enjoy a very different curriculum. Within two years 120 students will be engaged in developing their vocational skills, knowledge and understanding and technical training in a range of Level 1 BTEC and other qualifications.   

A new collaborative partnership has been established between Highlands College and four 11-16 secondary schools; Grainville, Haute Vallee, Le Rocquier and Les Quennevais. Students will be able to access courses at Highlands College in:

  • Engineering
  • Hairdressing
  • Beauty Therapy
  • Construction
  • Catering
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

These vocational qualifications will provide students with the skills and knowledge specific to trade or industry and focus on practical experience and will provide progression routes onto further study. A curriculum fit for the 21st century offers young people increased choice about what they learn and where they study.

Mr John McGuinness, head teacher of Grainville School said;

 ‘This is a really exciting time in education. Vocational courses offer students the chance to study a new subject in a different environment and perhaps using different learning styles. Their concentrated study will take place one day every week and can lead onto a wider range of different courses at Level 2 or employment.  It provides students with a day out of school to learn in a mature college environment. Students can feel good about their future and discover how practical skills can be applied in the real world’.

In recent research from the UK, 14-16 year olds who participated in a more flexible curriculum including vocational courses benefited from their exposure to this broader curriculum. The research revealed that particular benefits for young people included the development of so-called ‘soft’ skills; including working with adults, confidence in employability, and inter-personal and communication skills. A further benefit identified by the researchers was a more positive attitude towards schools amongst the students participating.

John McGuinness hoped that the development of new 14 – 16 vocational courses was just the first step of many in a new healthy climate of collaboration and partnership.

‘We need to build upon each other’s strengths and share best practice’ he said. ‘It is now common place for young people across Europe and Asia to travel locally between schools and colleges to mix and match courses that best meet their individual needs’. 

Dr Gary Jones, Deputy Principal of Highlands College said;

’At Highlands we are delighted that we have been able to make our expertise and resources available to help shape this development.  The programme which will be delivered at Highlands, taught and co-ordinated by Highlands’s staff is something we have been working towards for many years’.

Le Rocquier head teacher Richard Rolfe said;

 ‘I am delighted that students now have the opportunity to undertake this training alongside their traditional GCSE qualifications’.

Richard Plaster, Chairman of the Jersey Skills Board said;

'The achievement of vocational learning opportunities for 14+ year olds has been high on the list of Skills Board priorities since its inception in 2008. As chairman of the Board I am delighted that schools and colleges have been able to work together to develop this very exiting initiative. The Board fully supports their efforts in this respect and will be very interested to see how it develops over the coming years.'


Deputy James Reed, the Minister for Education Sport and Culture said;

‘The development of appropriate vocational and apprenticeship schemes was high on my list of priorities when I stood for the position of Minister for Education Sport and Culture and I am pleased that real progress is being made in this area. I look forward to further developments in this area’.

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