Congratulations to all ASDAN learners

Published

A qualification deemed second-rate by Ministers may have helped tens of thousands of students achieve good GCSE passes.

As the nation’s teenagers celebrate their GCSE results, many will have gained better than expected grades by taking courses in personal effectiveness and skills – often alongside a string of academic subjects.

ASDAN’s Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) qualification was found in a major study to have raised young people’s chances of achieving five A* to C grades, including English and maths, by 5% and a significant and sustained impact on English GCSE performance overall.

However, the course, in which students take modules in themes such as vocational preparation, and work-related learning and enterprise, has been deemed by Ministers no longer to be worthy of inclusion in performance league tables.

Research from the University of the West of England of more than half a million pupils, published earlier this year, found the impact of CoPE was most significant on those from less privileged backgrounds; students who had low attainment in English up to the age of 14; some minority ethnic pupils and learners with special needs.

Academics from the university's Bristol Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning and Education said CoPE offered “a varied qualification that provides students with the tools they need to get on with education that they wouldn’t necessarily get in their [mainstream] curriculum classes.”

Marius Frank, CEO of ASDAN education, said: “We are delighted to see the achievement of so many young people supported, enriched and enhanced by ASDAN qualifications. But it is such a shame that a rather blinkered and elitist ministerial position offers schools no incentive to use qualifications like ours.

"We urge ministers to reconsider the true value and worth of personal development qualifications like CoPE, so that a whole education experience can be accredited and young people are better prepared for further studies, for the workplace and for life."

Currently about 300,000 students in 5,000 schools and colleges study for CoPE and other ASDAN skills-based qualifications as part of the curriculum.

Among those schools offering CoPE is Seaton Burn College, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Dave Cookson, Deputy Principal, said: “CoPE is crucial to our learners as it gives them a strong foundation to build their academic and social success. It is clear that the skills learned and honed through CoPE support achievement across all subjects. Add in the increased self-esteem and aspiration that CoPE brings and it becomes an essential part of our curriculum.”