GNVQs 1992-1995 : the implementation of GNVQ programmes at institutional level
High unemployment and, more recently, global competition have led many countries to review their education and training provision with the aim of encouraging more students to take a positive decision to remain in education or training in the post-compulsory phase thus increasing national levels of participation and attainment. Central to the response in England has been the creation of a new range of qualifications General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQs) which are seen as making vocational education more attractive through their distinctive approaches to teaching, learning and assessment. Government strategy has been to encourage the development of these qualifications aiming for parity of esteem with academic qualifications such as Advanced levels. GNVQs were seen as having the capacity to bridge the academic/vocational divide, to be equivalent to and an alternative national qualification to current academic and vocational qualifications and to provide an alternative progression route. This research focuses on the implementation of GNVQs at the institutional level and argues that the rhetoric contrasts sharply with reality. It draws on evidence from case studies as well as a national sample of colleges and schools. It shows that there were considerable variations in the reasons why GNVQs were introduced and how they were developed and offered. Key areas that have prevented the effective implementation of the qualifications are identified including the type of institution, their previous experience of vocational education, the particular awarding body, their experience of GNVQs and the vocational areas offered. GNVQs were perceived by their developers as being `liberating' for institutions and their staff. Whilst they have been positively received by some their complex and bureaucratic structures, and implementation of their elaborate assessment requirements are shown to present centres with considerable difficulty in meeting the requirements of 'good practice' identified by Government agencies.