General National Vocational Qualification

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Introduced in 1992 to provide a third qualification route which bridged the gap between the academic or general education provided by the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and General Certificate of Education Advanced Level route in schools, and the vocationally specific training provided by National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) in further education. Introduced initially in the 1991 White Paper Education and Training for the 21st Century, GNVQs were intended to be taught in schools and to cover ‘broad occupational areas’. Their introduction, according to the White Paper, had a number of purposes. They were to provide an alternative route to both employment and higher education; to allow progression to and from NVQs; and to ‘be of equal status with academic qualifications’. This last point proved difficult to achieve, despite repeated government claims about parity of esteem. Nevertheless, within two years of its introduction the GNVQ was being offered at Foundation, Intermediate, and Advanced Level in five broad occupational areas in many schools and colleges. Intermediate Level was taken to be broadly equivalent to four good GCSEs, while the Advanced Level was, for the purposes of progression to higher education, accorded equivalence with two A Levels. At all levels assessment was initially by continuous assessment. This in itself created some difficulties in establishing the status of the Advanced award; and over time the assessment regime was developed to include more rigorous external assessment and testing. Candidates succeeded in gaining university places through the GNVQ route, and one of the strengths of its curriculum—the inclusion of key skills—was later (2000) extended to all 16–19 provision. In 1999–2000 Advanced GNVQs were restructured to increase their compatibility with modular A Levels and, as part of the Curriculum 2000 reforms, became known as Vocational Advanced Levels. Foundation and Intermediate GNVQs remained an optional component of the Key Stage 4 curriculum in schools, and were included in the calculation of pupil attainment points. Their withdrawal was announced by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in November 2003, and they were phased out between 2005 and 2007, to be replaced by successor qualifications, again with a broad vocational focus, such as National Certificates, National Diplomas, and Applied GCSEs, developed and regulated by the same unitary awarding bodies which were previously responsible for awarding GNVQs.

Subjects: Education.

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