Tracks to merge under new quango

A new super-quango, the Qualifications and National Curriculum Authority, will be launched in September 1997, swallowing up the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, chaired by Sir Ron Dearing, and the National Council for Vocational Qualifications.

The formation of the new QNCA is a further attempt by Government to bring academic education and workplace training closer together, and reflects last year's merger of Whitehall's Education and Employment Departments.

The organisation will support Sir Ron Dearing's proposal to create a single structure for education between the ages of 14 to 19.

It will have a key role in implementing the Dearing review and in boosting the standing of vocational education. It will be expected to follow up the recommendations in the Capey and Beaumont Reports for tightening up the structure and assessment of National Vocational Qualifications and GNVQs.

Announcing the decision, the Education and Employment Secretary Gillian Shephard said: "For the first time one organisation will be able to set expectations and standards across the whole spectrum of education and training, from the nursery to workplace training and lifelong learning."

The Government had been considering two forms of merger: the creation of a new post-16 qualifications authority; and the straightforward merger of the existing bodies.

Ministers chose the latter on the grounds that it was straightforward, involved no overlap of duties, maintained consistency across the whole curriculum, and pooled all the available experience. SCAA and the NCVQ are already working together in a new joint committee.

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