Scottish vocational qualifications : an analysis of policy and practice
This thesis reports on an evaluation of competence-based vocational education practice in Scotland, with particular reference to Scottish Vocational Qualifications. The research was undertaken between 1996-1999 and included a national survey of higher level SVQ students in Scotland, an analysis of national database on N/SVQs and case study research with providers and students. It was found that participation in the 'new vocationalism' was highly gender patterned, had little impact on education and training targets and was skewed in favour of particular awards and occupational groups. The criterion-based assessment methodology proved more time-consuming for the students than the staff, with the emphasis on producing paper-based portfolios of evidence. A particular concern emerging from the research was the superficial nature of learning taking place on competence-based vocational education programmes and the role of the Local Enterprise Companies. These findings are discussed in the context of the growth in 'outcome-based' approaches to education adopted by policy makers in Scotland. It is argued that the narrow instrumentalist employer-led standards used to underpin education practice are ill-suited to developing a highly skilled professional workforce for the next century.