Vocational awards still tarnished

WITH teaching to commence on the new general national vocational qualifications and vocational A-level programmes from September 2000, is it not astonishing that awarding bodies have yet to issue the definitive versions of these specifications?

Thus far, draft specifications have appeared on awarding body websites but as planning tools these clearly sit on shifting sands and, in any case, teacher access to the Internet is limited by a range of personal and institutional factors.

At classroom level this delay has a range of consequences. Teachers and school managers are unable to provide prospective students with appropriate course information, unable to plan schemes of work, unable to arrange the kind of visit and placement rogrammes that are critical to student success on these courses and unable to make informed resourcing decisions.

By comparison those specifications relating to conventional A-level programmes were made available, both on the net and in glossy hard copy, within weeks of their approval by QCA, several months ago.

What does this delay say about the approach of QCA and the awarding bodies to parity across the academic-vocational divide?

Seemingly, that once again the vocational option is a low priority, a second choice, a poor also-ran to A-level's gold standard.

Tony Breslin

Chair, Enfield GNVQ co-ordinators' group

London borough of Enfield Civic Centre

Silver Street

Enfield, Middlesex

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