Dreaded V word is forbidden by Ministry

3rd August 2007 at 01:00
WHATEVER YOU do, do not mention the V word. This is the instruction to those marketing the new diplomas. Guidelines for producing advertising material for the work- related courses forbid the use of vocational.

The orders have been shown on the Department for Children, Schools and Families website.

They include a list of "key qualities" to be promoted about the new courses, including that they are inspiring, aspirational, exciting, high quality, robust and enduring.

The guidance says: "Market research shows that the word vocational is not seen by young people in a positive way in the context of the diploma. Words like work-relevant might be a better alternative."

Those promoting the diploma are also advised to steer clear of the word "specialisation," since research indicated that young people wanted to keep their options open.

Other words to avoid include occupational, modular, basic skills, realistic context and provides stretch. The advice also includes a set of "key messages" targeted at young people, parents, employers, schools and colleges, and higher education.

The recommendation not to describe the new qualifications as vocational encapsulates the biggest perceived problem facing the diplomas since they were mooted two years ago.

They were born out of the Tomlinson report into qualifications reform, which had proposed a diploma into which all courses, including GCSEs and A-levels would be subsumed.

In 2005, the Government decided against this course, introducing diplomas alongside existing exams and thus running the risk, it was widely alleged, of creating second class exams.

Vocational has been taken to mean less academic, hence the desire to avoid the word. Professor Alan Smithers, of the University of Buckingham, said the guidance spoke of a government more concerned with how reform was spun than with its contents.

"In common with much else that the Government has attempted," he said, "diplomas are looked at as a presentational job, rather than making sure that these things pay off for the people who will take them."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today