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Former Labour minister, and current Shadow Education Secretary, Andy Burnham, spoke at the University’s Higher Education Advisors’ Conference.
Addressing an audience featuring representatives from many of the region’s further education institutions, the Leigh MP gave a preview of the type of policy he will propose at this week’s Labour Party Conference.
He said in the past there was an assumption life would improve for each generation, but now “we have to be alive to the possibility that won’t hold true and we might see social mobility go into reverse.”
He urged those present to “work very hard to stop that happening”.
Andy Burnham said: “We’ve got to take great care not to reinforce low expectations. We need to work harder than ever before to maintain those higher expectations.”
He added: “If you give young people hope, you keep them engaged.”
And in a preview of the policy announcements expected at this week’s Labour Party Conference, he said he would like to see the introduction of a “UCAS style clearing system for apprenticeships”, arguing the current set-up was “altogether too confusing”.
The Shadow Education Secretary said: “If in Year 9 they can start looking at apprenticeship clearing schemes and they can see BAE requires grade Cs, for example, they know what the opportunities are.
“It raises the status of apprenticeships and gives a clear idea that there is something at the end of school if you keep working.”
Other external speakers at the conference included Penny Jane Burke, Professor of Education at Roehampton University; Professor Liz Thomas from the Higher Education Academy; Steve Brown, Senior Student Finance Consultant from the Student Loans Company; and Tass Sgouros, Head of Student Progression and Guidance at Sir John Deane’s College.
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