21. Some students choose to follow vocational courses, which are
more closely linked with the world of work, instead of the traditional
GCSE or A levels courses. These are appropriate for students who
prefer learning through work-based contexts and being assessed
mainly through coursework rather than exams. The vocational courses
most likely to be followed by 14-19 year olds are the General
National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQs), which are linked to
broad vocational areas including Science, Health and Social Care
and Engineering. Each GNVQ can be taken at three different levels:
foundation, intermediate and advanced. Advanced GNVQs, which have
recently been renamed and launched as Advanced Vocational Certificates
of Education (VCE), are equivalent in standard to traditional
A levels. Intermediate GNVQs are equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C
and Foundation to GCSE grades D-G. GNVQ courses are most commonly
taken post-16 with intermediate level appropriate for those who
have not achieved grade C in science at GCSE and advanced as an
alternative to A level. DfES also permits schools to offer foundation
and intermediate GNVQ science at key stage 4 even though the courses
do not fulfil the National Curriculum criteria.
This option has not been widely taken up by schools or students.
Statistics on the number of students entering Advanced GNVQs are
presented in figure A9, Annex 3.
Numbers for intermediate and foundation GNVQs are lower.
22. From September 2002 a new GCSE in Applied Science will be
offered by all three awarding bodies. It is intended to replace
the Intermediate and Foundation GNVQs in science, which QCA has
said will be examined for the last time in 2006. This new GCSE
is designed to appeal to those students who do not enjoy traditional
academic study and aims to prepare them to move on to further
vocational courses or employment. The course is expected to take
the same amount of time to teach as the double award science GCSE
and two thirds of the assessment will be based on coursework,
reflecting the emphasis on the development of technical skills.
It is expected that the course will attract considerably more
entries than the GNVQs.
23. Students in England have taken part in two recent studies
that aim to compare the performance of young people in science
across countries. The Third International Maths and Science Study
(TIMSS), carried out in 1999, assessed the performance of 13 and
14 year olds across 38 countries.
In science, England was placed ninth. Although this ranking was
higher than the previous TIMSS, carried out in 1995, the actual
performance was broadly the same. A further TIMSS study will be
carried out in 2003. The Programme for International Students
Assessment (PISA) was carried out by the OECD in 2000 and involved
32 countries. On
the assessment of 15 year olds' scientific literacy, England was
QCA was established by the 1997 Education Act as a merger between
the School Curriculum Assessment Authority and the National Council
for Vocational Qualifications. Back
The National Curriculum is available at www.nc.uk.net Back
AQA specification for Science: Double Award (Coordinated) Back
A total of 576,700 students entered GCSEs in 2001. Source:
GCSE/GNVQ and A/AS/VCE/AGNVQ examination results 2000/01 (early
statistics). DfES. October 2001. Table 4. Available via www.dfes.gov.uk/statistics Back
Figure provided by QCA and based on information provided by schools.
The actual figure may be higher. Since 1998, schools have been
able to disapply individual students from science at key stage
4 so that they are able to take part in work related learning.
Disapplication from design and technology and modern foreign
languages is also permitted, although for a wider range of reasons.
In 2001, 2.2% and 4.3% of the cohort were disapplied from design
and technology and modern foreign languages respectively. The
DfES Green Paper 14-19 proposes that, at key stage 4, design and
technology and modern foreign languages should become optional
for all. Back
Figures provided by AQA based on entries across all awarding bodies. Back
The development of the course was funded by the Salters' Company. Back
Extract from QCA's GCSE criteria for science. Available at www.qca.org.uk/nq/framework/science.pdf Back
Ev 115, para 7 Back
Biology includes human biology. Other AS and A level subjects
that incorporate significant amounts of science are environmental
science, geology, physical education, and psychology. See also
Ev 136, Appendix 22 and Ev 140, Appendix 24 for proposed new subject
QCA's criteria for AS and A levels can be seen at www.qca.org.uk/nq/framework/main.asp Back
This is permitted under the provisions of Section 96 of the Learning
and Skills Act 2000. Further information is available from www.dfes.gov.uk/section96 Back
See p 87 Back
For further information see isc.bc.edu/timss1999.html Back