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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
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Schools in England are being encouraged to offer children a wider range of vocational qualifications.

The promise is that their achievements will now be recognised in results published by the Department for Education and Skills.

The country's qualifications watchdog has laboured to produce a common points scale for dozens of different certificates and diplomas.

Annual statistics due on Thursday will reflect these for the first time.


The exam results issued in August show how well candidates' entries did, but not how many exams individuals took or even how many candidates there were.

By 2004, 92% of 16 year olds getting five or more GCSE passes including maths and English
By 2004, all education authorities have at least 38% of students getting five good GCSEs or equivalents
Two-point average annual rise in % getting five or more good GCSEs or equivalents between 2002 and 2006
These October figures reveal the national and local averages for how well candidates did - for example, the proportion getting at least five good GCSEs.

So they show progress towards government targets for educational attainment.

Once finalised they will be used as the basis for the secondary school league tables - due out in January.

Until now the statistics for 16 year olds have focused on GCSEs and GNVQs.

Those figures will still be published, and will include this year the first results from new Applied GCSEs, each worth two GCSEs.

'Disincentive removed'

But also from this year there will be points for other qualifications approved for pre-16 use.

Those which are graded (pass, merit, distinction) have not been included this year because of what the Department for Education and Skills calls "data collection issues".

But the plan is that anyone who achieves a distinction in the ABC Certificate in cake decoration, for instance, will get 55 points, compared to 52 for an A-grade GCSE.

Assessment for that is mainly done within a school but follows a detailed specification - with marks deducted for dragging crimpers when applying almond paste, for example.

A BTec Certificate in call-handling operations nets 92 points, while a City and Guilds Certificate in salon reception is worth 138 points.

The points system is also totally new, to reflect the wider range of qualifications. It gives greater weight to lower grades.

Under the old system a GCSE graded A* - the highest - counted for 8 points and a C grade was 5, or 62.5% of an A*.

Under the new system, A* is 58 points and C is 40, or 68.9% of the top grade.

The lowest pass grade, G, used to be 12.5% of an A* but is now 27.5%.

'Very worth while

In a report for the government, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) said wider use of qualifications, in addition to the GCSE/GNVQ currently counted, would make a visible difference to schools' average point scores.

The development would remove a disincentive to using the full range of qualifications - "increasing students' access to them and facilitating a more appropriate match between students' needs, their learning programmes and the qualifications they work towards".

The education department said: "These qualifications are very worth while and it is good news that pupils are accessing them. It is important that young people are able to access qualifications that best suit their personal learning needs.

"This is a significant step forward in recognising the achievements of all pupils and of the importance of flexible routes in learning.

"Only those qualifications are included where they have been through a rigorous accreditation process by the QCA and approved for use."

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21 Oct 04 |  Education
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26 Aug 04 |  Education
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26 Aug 04 |  Education
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15 Dec 03 |  Education

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