Students pressured to drop academic courses

23rd April 2004 at 01:00
Pupils who could benefit from taking academic GCSEs such as history and geography are being pushed on to vocational courses by schools desperate to improve their league table score, it was claimed this week.

The Historical Association is the most recent critic of rules which say that intermediate General National Vocational Qualification courses are worth four GCSEs at C or better in secondary league tables.

And one history teacher at a Midlands school admitted to The TES that the school was trying to "fiddle" the tables by diverting pupils on to vocational courses.

Ben Walsh, former chairman of the HA's secondary committee, said some schools saw the qualification as an easy way of improving league-table positions, giving less academic youngsters a chance of achieving the equivalent of five GCSEs at A* to C.

Mr Walsh said that some less academic students had the potential to do well in history, providing that they were well taught.

Yet if they took a GNVQ and achieved a C or better in one GCSE, there was no evidence that this was valued by employers.

Earlier this year, in its annual report on information and communications technology, the Office for Standards in Education questioned whether a full GNVQ in the subject was worth four GCSEs.

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