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EDITIONS
Thursday, 4 November, 1999, 01:28 GMT
Vocational exams gain in popularity
GNVQs
There has been a 2.8% increase in students taking GNVQs
Students are increasingly likely to take and complete vocational qualifications, says the government.

But the 2.8% increase in students taking GNVQs (general national vocational qualifications) has been dismissed by critics who say the exams are still seen as being for those lacking the ability to study A-levels.

Education Minister Baroness Blackstone says an increase in students completing GNVQ courses - from 92,000 to 104,000 - shows the growing popularity of the qualification.

"It is encouraging to see so many students recognising that GNVQs are an excellent qualification and continuing their education to achieve them," said the minister.

But this still means that only 55% of students complete the qualifications within the expected two years, compared with 49% last year.

'A great pity'

The GNVQ - the general national vocational qualification - was launched in 1993 as a work-related alternative to GCSEs and A-levels. Since then 450,000 students have taken GNVQs, and there are plans to increase participation.

But a long-standing critic of the present GNVQ system, Professor Alan Smithers of the University of Liverpool, said it was not clear whether students were taking them out of choice or because because they lacked the ability for A-levels.

"People still seem to be taking GNVQs as a less-preferred route to A-levels. That is a great pity because we really do need a good qualification in applied education in this country," he said.

"That is what GNVQ is intended to be but because of the overlap with A-levels, that is compromised.

"It isn't always clear whether students are taking GNVQs because they are good at applying knowledge or just because they're not up to A-levels."

  • GNVQ courses include art and design, business, health and social care, information technology, engineering, and media and communication.

    The courses are modular and qualifications can be built up unit by unit. There are three GNVQ levels: foundation, intermediate and advanced.

    Foundation is broadly equal to four lower-grade GCSEs. Intermediate is broadly equal to four top-grade GCSEs. Advanced GNVQs are broadly equal to two A-levels.

  • See also:

    21 Dec 98 | Education 2000
    03 Nov 99 | Education
    19 Oct 99 | Education
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