The status of more than 3,100 vocational qualifications has been cut by government, leaving just 70 GCSE “equivalents” in England’s school league tables.
Some vocational courses, such as hair dressing diplomas, can be worth the same as four GCSEs.
Following the Wolf Report into vocational education, the Department for Education says this overweighting of diplomas has given schools the incentives to offer them to boost their league table position, according to a report by the BBC.
According to the report, from 2014, only 70 “equivalents” – of 3,100 qualifications – will count in the league tables’ headline GCSE measure and on a like-for-like basis with GCSEs.
Jettisoning so many courses as GCSE equivalents is likely to make schools less likely to continue to offer these qualifications. The government is preparing its final list and has told schools not to change their syllabuses until the final list is published.
The diplomas that will still equate to GCSEs include several BTECs and OCR National diplomas in performing arts, sport, health and social care, media, music and engineering.
However, earlier this month it was reported in the press that the government planned to downgrade the status of the Engineering Diploma for 14 to 18 year olds to being worth one GCSE, from an original equivalent value of four (click to link to our TM coverage).
Examples of courses that will be omitted in future league tables are the level 1 certificate in practical office skills; the BTEC level 2 extended certificate in fish husbandry; and the level 2 certificate in nail technology services, all currently worth two GCSEs.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said the changes would extend opportunity because only qualifications which had demonstrated rigour, and had track records of taking young people into good jobs or university, would count in the future.
A teacher commenting on the BBC website said: “I’ve seen kids who are failing in all their subjects get passes in BTEC and diploma’s because it’s in a practical subject they like and can do. Who’s to say it’s not useful to them? It might actually be what they want to do in life and they don’t all want to be academic and go to uni. Has anyone thought of that?”