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Few respond to post-16 consultation

Only 150 out of 2,000 secondary schools with sixth forms in England and Wales have so far responded to Sir Ron Dearing's review of the 16 to 19 framework, whose consultation period ends next week.

Sir Ron is concerned at the small number of submissions, but the response rate has been much better from colleges and industry.

However, the issues highlighted by those schools who did reply to the review, which aims to develop a coherent framework of academic and vocational qualifications, may give a hint as to why others are dragging their feet.

Many have expressed concern about the language used in the qualifications jungle. Schools have complained that General National Vocational Qualifications, National Vocational Qualifications and A-levels all use different sets of vocabulary in their literature, in assessment and to describe what is expected of students. Perhaps the rest have been unable to hack their way through the verbiage.

Sir Ron himself highlighted the problem in his interim report, Review of 16-19 Qualifications, published in July, when he said: "In spite of the action taken by the Government to bring clarity into the structure of vocational qualifications, the world of education and training between the ages of 16 and 19 remains intelligible only to specialists."

The team seconded from the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority to work with Sir Ron on his independent review said schools had also been particularly interested in issues of credit accumulation and transfer and been divided over the proposals for a national certificate of qualifications for all students.

Although the official deadline is November 10, Sir Ron will still welcome replies after that date. "He really wants responses from schools," said a spokeswoman.

A final report will be produced by Easter 1996.

Schools should send responses to Room 6.59, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT.

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