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Business courses scrutinised

The business general national vocational qualification comes under fire, while standards of A-level work in the subject are praised in a report published by the Office for Standards in Education this week.

The 13-page report, Business Education and Economics, is significant because it provides new evidence of the well-documented problems of GNVQ just a month before Sir Ron Dearing is expected to give added weight to the three distinct but equally valued pathways of A-levels, GNVQs and national vocational qualifications in his 16-to-19 review.

The OFSTED report calls for an improvement in the quality of tasks and assignments in GNVQ courses, more time for planning the qualification and the recruitment of suitably qualified teachers. Assessment difficulties are common in GNVQ, it says.

"In sixth form GCE A-level work, standards of achievement were satisfactory or better in 92 per cent of lessons. Standards of achievement in GNVQ work were satisfactory or better in 70 per cent of lessons, though excellence was rare," says the report.

"The quality of teaching was satisfactory or better in 88 per cent of GCE lessons and good in 55 per cent. It was satisfactory or better in 70 per cent of GNVQ lessons and good in 28 per cent," it says.

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