FLICK Drummond has urged the Government to look again at scrapping GCSEs – and instead offer students a school certificate at 18.

The Meon Valley MP told peers yesterday in parliament that the certificate “should include academic, technical and vocational qualifications."

She has been campaigning to reform the country’s assessment system and is a former Ofsted lay inspector and school governor.

Speaking in the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill debate, Ms Drummond said she supported the legislation but added: “I think that the Government is missing a big opportunity here if we are waiting until post-16.

“I think we should be looking at a 14 to 18 curriculum across the board in the Bill. We already have university technical colleges, which follow that model. I point out that UTC Portsmouth has 34 local business partners that are already helping to shape its curriculum and that, last year, 100% of leavers got jobs.

"It is getting young people into what they are really interested in learning from 14 rather than making them fit into our present assessment system until they are 16.”

She explained the UK has a shortage of skills, is more unproductive than many economic competitors and it is holding the country back.

Ms Drummond also pointed out that most if not all of those competitors do not pause education at 16 and take out six to seven months of what should be a productive learning year to sit GCSEs.

She expressed concern that GCSEs can set up young people to fail and those that do are often disengaged.

“We should get rid of GCSEs and replace them with a school leaving certificate at the end of schooling or training at 18,” she told the House of Commons.

“Training young people from the age of 14 will make sure that they are engaged, because they will know that what they are studying will help with future employment.

"We need to put technical and vocational education on a par with academic qualifications, making sure that we work with businesses, universities and young people to design a curriculum that works for everybody and helps young people to contribute to the community, as well as preparing them for the life of work.

“Failing at 16 has a major impact on any young person, so I plead that the Government look again. The Bill is an excellent start, but skills learning for young people’s employment future should start at 14, not 16.”