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‘Gove has no 21st century vision’: Ed Miliband will attack coalition’s education plans in Manchester conference

By Dean Wilkins

Ed Miliband is focussing on the ‘forgotten 50%’ who do not go to university as he unveils Labour’s vocational education sake up during the party’s Manchester conference today.

The Labour leader wants to introduce the Technical Baccalaureate, a gold standard qualification – comparable with current A-levels – for those who do not continue their education at university.

The award would be aimed at 18-year-olds and run alongside an increase in apprenticeships and provide a better future for young people neglected by successive governments.

The Labour leader will deliver his keynote speech at the conference today and recollect on his own comprehensive education where his classmates were failed by the system.

“For years and years, our party has focused on those young people who go to university. And that matters,” Miliband plans to say.

“But it’s time now to focus on those who don’t go to university. The young people who are too often the forgotten 50%.

“We cannot succeed if we can have an education system which only works for half the country.”

He will add that the government have an obligation to create a workable system for all youngsters and wants a major restructure to favour vocational qualifications.

“In the 21st century everyone should be doing some form of education up to 18, not 16,” he will add. “That gives us the chance and the obligation to develop a new system from 14 to 18, in particular, for vocational qualifications.

“I want a curriculum that is rigorous and relevant with English and Maths up to 18, not 16, culminating in a new technical baccalaureate at 18 based on gold standard qualifications.

“I want ours to be a country where children aspire not just to go to Oxford and Cambridge but to excellent technical colleges and elite vocational institutions.

“We need to do what we haven’t done in decades: build a culture in our country where vocational qualifications are not seen as second-class certificates but for what they can be – a real route on and up to quality apprenticeships and jobs.”

Labour hope to encourage business to take on apprentices and plan to spend £1billion per year to trigger the coming together.

Fast-track apprenticeships would also be organised within the civil service and government contracts would be awarded if companies are already providing apprenticeships.

Labour have not revealed a target to aim for however a similar process in Germany indicates that it could create up to 100,000 more positions.

Miliband wants to compare his TechBacc plan and the EBacc qualification proposed by Education Secretary Michael Gove – Labour believe this threatens to revive two-tier academic exams at 16.

The coalition’s plans ‘just wrote a whole set of people off’ Miliband will claim.

“We don’t want to go back to that,” he will add.

“He [Gove] is stuck in the past, offering no vision for the 21st century.

“There is a choice of two futures for education. The Tory plan for an education system designed for a narrower and narrower elite. Or our plan.”

Miliband will discuss his secondary school education – under ‘the scariest headmistress you can imagine’ – in comparison with David Cameron’s exclusive Eton schooling.

“I went to my local school with people from all backgrounds,” Miliband will say. “I still remember the motivation, the inspiration from some amazing teaching.

“My school taught us a lot more than just how to pass exams: it taught people how to get on with each other, whoever they are and wherever they were from.

“I will always be grateful, because I know I would not be standing here today as leader of the Labour Party without my comprehensive school education.”

Miliband will also attempt to introduce himself to voters after his deputy Harriet Harman claimed that people still do not know him – he will discuss his Jewish family fleeing Nazi Germany and his birth at an NHS hospital where his sons were born.

He will also ridicule the bank’s ‘casino culture’ and insist that long-term investment in businesses is needed.

However, a coalition source argued: “We are replacing discredited GCSEs with tougher new exams and moving control of A-levels from politicians to universities.

“Miliband will continue to devalue exams, con people with false statistics, and leave millions of state school pupils unemployable.

“We have increased funding for apprenticeships and given teachers the power to strengthen discipline which Miliband opposes.”

But Miliband was dealth a huge blow yesterday after Sky News broadcast a poll at the conference that revealed only 20% of people believe he will make a good Primer Minister – while only 24% believe he and shadow chancellor Ed Balls will make the right economic decisions.

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