South Tyneside College boss joins students’ call for better education choices

Victoria Cramman, right,  head of Career College North East, with Alison Maynard, deputy chief executive of Tyne Coast College
Victoria Cramman, right, head of Career College North East, with Alison Maynard, deputy chief executive of Tyne Coast College

The head of a pioneering South Tyneside-based education initiative has backed the findings of new research which shows large numbers of children feel their prospects are being hindered by league tables and academic results.

Victoria Cramman, who leads Career College North East (CCNE) - which targets specialist vocational education at 14 to 16-year-olds - said the findings reflected her own experiences of dealing with young people in the classroom.

The Career Colleges Trust surveyed over 1,000 youngsters and found just 13 per cent believe the education system was geared to supporting them into the careers they wanted.

Fifty-four per cent said their schools neglect individual career ambitions - choosing instead to focus only achieving good grades.

Mrs Cramman said: “The students’ concerns are very valid and not surprising.

“The focus for schools on outcomes as a data exercise rather than the main outcome being a student’s career path, is bound to lead to students feeling confused and disillusioned.

“Students need to see the relevance in what they are studying in order to buy into it fully and sometimes feel that their options are limited. They end up studying subjects that they aren’t really interested in - leaving them feel demotivated.

“Students are about to enter a constantly shifting workforce and are aware that they need skills – real, concrete skills – that they can transfer and develop throughout their career.”

She added: “Students need to be given options. Career College is one of those options and reflects the way our workforce is changing, allowing students to get ahead of the game and focus on what career they actually want.

“It doesn’t have to be a choice between vocational or academic – somewhere like CCNE can offer the best of both worlds.”

CCNE launched in 2015 and operates as a partnership between South Tyneside College (STC) and Ofsted ‘outstanding’ St Wilfrid’s RC College, South Shields

It delivers expert vocational courses in engineering and ICT at STC, with options available to train in maritime at world-leading South Shields Marine School.

Its programmes are backed by local employers who are instrumental in leading and supporting its work.

For three days a week, learners study a core academic programme at St Wilfrid’s RC College, and on two days, they study for two vocational qualifications at South Tyneside College - now part of Tyne Coast College.