Fareham education expert urges funding shake-up

A FAREHAM training provider has called for schoolchildren to be given greater guidance over careers, more choice over which educational routes to follow and for funding systems to be radically overhauled.

Christine Baxter, founder of Gold Edge Training, argues that careers advice in schools is often not up to date, with details of alternatives to traditional education pathways rarely offered.

She said: “It’s time for our state education system to be shaken up and new ways of preparing young people for working life to be implemented.

“Things haven’t really changed for 40 years with outdated careers advice still being offered to students approaching their final years at school to make life-changing decisions.”

And Christine said the divide between innovative private sector education providers and the state system was continuing to grow: “Surely, as educators of future leaders, state education should lead in learning innovation, but it does not. Even more concerning is that the lack of change is never questioned – instead it’s endorsed  by continued government funding.

“In contrast, private sector education is at the forefront of modern course delivery.  It has an unarguable lead over public sector in learning innovation, learning flexibility and learning resource development.

“Maybe that divide is a signal that it is time for government education funding to go to the learner and not the public sector institutions.

“Make these institutions earn their income in a competitive market.  Make them accountable for modernisation or risk failure. Give the learners a genuine choice.”

Her award-nominated Gold Edge Training offers more than 900 courses. Its students equal the highest industry-standard Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) distance learning pass rates in the UK.

According to Christine: “Students are still not given full advice on all opportunities in the public and private sector. Instead, they are given options around the public sector such as college, university and or apprenticeship. This same old cycle hasn’t changed in 40 years.

“Industry wants future employees to have the appropriate professional education, but this seems to be lost on the government which dictates the content of school education.

“It is also lost on the government that giving young people full study choices is key to the future economic growth of the country.  These young people are not choosing a holiday, they are choosing their careers.”

Two years ago Whiteley-headquartered Gold Edge Training launched its AAT Young Professional programme. This runs alongside traditional GCSEs and A- levels and offers 14-year-olds and up the chance to get a head start in the type of career entry level qualification in high demand by employers.

“Intake on the programme doubles each year because learners feel the courses are relatable to life and have purpose. They believe they are not just sitting exams they are building their futures.”

Christine, whose background is in industry, further education management and accountancy lecturing, was also critical of careers advice. She said young people should be able to trust their journey through education and trust that a title such as ‘career advisor’ means the person is qualified to give career advice.

“Career advisors should be trained specialists.  Why is this role not taken seriously?  Little knowledge is a dangerous thing that can ruin career opportunities.”

She added: “This is 2021. Never have there been more possibilities to step up and say, ‘I can, I want to and I will’.  Young people of today be aware – don’t allow others to measure your intelligence. Believe in yourself and trust your own instincts.”

Founded in 1980, professional membership body the Association of Accounting Technicians is the UK’s leading professional organisation offering skills-based accountancy and finance qualifications. It has around 130,000 members in more than 100 countries and awards around 80 per cent of all UK vocational accounting qualifications.

PICTURED: Training specialist Christine Baxter, founder of Gold Edge Training, has called for schoolchildren to be given better careers guidance and more choice over courses and for education funding systems to be radically overhauled