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GNVQs and GCSE equivalence

Rob Jones

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Well, tonight I went to my daughter's parents evening. It's the Year 9 one where teachers discuss courses that are open to them at KS4. Sitting on the other side of the table, for a change brought a new perspective to the educational experience of children. She's a bright kid so all options are available to her. The options for science particularly interested me.

Apparently, she is able to do the 'regular' dual award science where she would end up with two GCSEs. She could also do an extra module after school so she would get a triple award (3 GCSEs). The Head of Science explained that the brightest pupils can do this but it is 'very demanding'.

There was a third option. She could do a GNVQ in science, all within curricular time, which, he explained, is really geared towards lower achievers, so not really suitable for my daughter. If she did this, she would end up with four GCSE equivalents.

I've always regarded GNVQ, perhaps cynically as a great thing to boost A*-C statistics. One headteacher was quoted in the TES a couple of weeks ago admitting that if it wasn't for the boosting effect of GNVQs on statistics, HMI would have shut his special measures school down.

As a parent, I now see this from a different perspective and from my daughter's. She is insulted that pupils who won't have to work as hard will end up with more GCSEs. A simplistic way of viewing it, but I can't argue with her.

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Going off slightly at a tangent; is it really necessary to encourage any children to do what amounts to between 12-14 GCSEs or their equivalent? I did 8 "O"Levels and that was quite enough. I believe university entrance minimum requirement is still 5/6 GCSEs + A levels.

I would suggest that manipulating the school statistics has replaced the child's best interests as the principle motivation of senior management decision making in this area in many state schools :blink:

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