How do we achieve parity of esteem for vocational education? Alan Smyth ( Status turns the job lot into the top lot, TES, 21 February ) is right: part of the answer is to make change between academic and vocational routes easy. That is how the Volvo High School (GTG) works in Gothenburg. But he's wrong to dismiss France so easily.
It's true that the vocational Bac still isn't fully accepted. Nevertheless, it has gone a long way to narrow the achievement gap, as official figures show. Lille, in the depressed Pas de Calais departement , has gone a long way to catching up with the national average. The vocational Bac, like the Gothenburg engineering course, heavily features general education, with up to 15 hours a week in the classroom learning maths, foreign languages, native language and literature. How does that compare with an NVQ?