Schools are robbing children of the chance to go to a top university by pushing them to take vocational subjects, an MP has claimed.
Margot James (Con Stourbridge) criticised schools which encouraged pupils to take subjects such as leisure and tourism instead of academic subjects including history or geography.
Speaking in the House of Commons, she claimed teachers in her Black Country constituency were pushing children to take easier subjects to ensure the school did well in league tables.
But this meant they ended up doing similar subjects at A-Level – and were prevented from taking a traditional academic subject at a leading university.
Her comments were challenged by a union official, who said schools were actually cutting back on vocational subjects due to pressure from the Government.
Ms James told MPs that just 25 per cent of Stourbridge students take history at GCSE level, and fewer than 20 per cent take geography.
She said: “Too many children are encouraged to start studying vocational subjects at a young age, for no other reason than to boost their schools’ league table rankings.
“An ambitious boy aged 14 from one of the secondary schools in my constituency told me, while doing work experience for me, that he liked history.
“When I asked him what GCSEs he was doing, I was surprised to hear that history did not feature among them because he had been encouraged to take leisure and tourism instead. He was a bright boy.”
She added: “At age 14, many children, especially from families that have never benefited from higher education, make GCSE subject selections that narrow the choices available to them at A-level.”
This meant they ended up at a further education college or a “new university” such as a former polytechnic rather than an established academic university, she said.
By contrast, children in independent schools were more likely to study A-Level subjects such as history or foreign languages, and went on to dominate the best universities, she said.