The new GNVQ specifications have finally reached the classroom. The long delay while the pilots were evaluated has given publishers time to update textbooks.
It is interesting how the course text has evolved from the generic to the course-specific: Heinemann's GNVQ Intermediate Business is aimed unashamedly at Edexcel candidates. As awarding bodies now compete on the option units they offer, and Edexcel still has the largest market, this probably comes as no surprise. Admittedly, there is a student book with and without Edexcel options, but this niche marketing is worthy of a business case study in its own right.
The Heinemann texts provide a comprehensive and interactive coverage of the subject for both part one and the full award. They include lively, topical case studies, practical student activities and photocopiable documents.
But the written text is quite dense. it is in the form of a dialogue for the self-learning reader, and without the fragmented formatting of boxes and bullet points found in other books, it is not easy to find information quickly. There are few pictures or photos and no colour . A tutor resource file is also available.
Osborne's is aimed at students of all awarding bodies. It covers the compulsory units plus a generic "human resources" section - the most popular externally assessed option unit for all ABs.
This book has a user-friendly feel, with concie but accurate explanations punctuated by headings, boxes, bullet points, highlighted key terms, and again, plenty of student activities. There are charts and diagrams, but few pictures and photos.
The book is assessment-focused and the exercises are designed to provide portfolio evidence or revision material. The Osborne website includes a tutor pack and blank financial documents to download and print.
FoundationIntermediate GNVQ Business from Longman offers full coverage of foundation and intermediate compulsory units for both awards plus the option units in human resources. Again it is aimed at all exam boards. The fact that both levels are covered may give flexibility, but may also confuse students.
Of the three texts here, this is by far the most assessment-oriented: internally assessed units include guidance on planning, researching, writing-up and grading requirements. Externally assessed units include revision questions and practice exam questions. Although coverage for the two awards is comprehensive, explanations are generally brief, but include lots of boxes and diagrams.
Pragmatic it may be, interactive it is not. The text delivers information and preparation for assessed outcomes, but leaves the teacher to provide exercises and activities that develop and reinforce understanding.
The variety of textbooks to choose from is as confusing as ever, but with GNVQ the value of this has always been in providing a selection of approaches for students to use and cross-reference. But the overriding impression is that these are all serious vocational texts, and that GNVQ, even at this level, is not a soft option.
Jill Turner is a principal examiner for GNVQ business and examiner for ASA-level business with AQA