GNVQ path is hedged with fallacies

24th May 1996 at 01:00
Your report "Pupils shun GNVQ path" (TES, May 10) cannot be allowed to pass without comment.

The general national vocational qualification is designed for students aiming for either higher education or employment. A-level is seen as almost exclusively a route to university. Thus in any group of GNVQ students there will inevitably be a higher proportion of students intending to seek employment. To use the relative narrowness of A-level to infer that GNVQ is not seen as a route to higher education is a fallacy which your reporter should have recognised.

To test the hypothesis in question, the research would need to discover the relative proportions of students intending to enter higher education who choose the two routes. Even then it would be difficult to allow for those who want to keep options open and particularly those who at 16 do not intend to go to university but who as a result of success in GNVQ, and increased self-confidence, decide at 17 or 18 to apply. Our experience is that this is true of a substantial proportion of GNVQ students. That is perhaps the most important success of GNVQ and the one most resented by the Establishment which wants to keep the privileges of higher education for the favoured few.

There may be a sinister explanation for the gullible acceptance of such shoddy research. Perhaps we have all been brainwashed into accepting the line that since selective schools and comprehensives serving favoured areas achieve better exam results, they must be performing better. That is the same fallacy.

EDWIN SMITH Headteacher Churchfields High School Sandwell, West Midlands

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