A number of teachers have been asked by the leadership teams to review alternatives to GCSE. Some people have been claiming that these are easier to pass, or that they are for the less able or students with SEND. This is misguided.
‘Technical Awards are distinct from GCSEs and they complement and supplement the academic offer. They must, however, offer an equivalent level of rigour and challenge as GCSEs’ (DfE)
‘Rigorous and appropriate assessment arrangements, including external assessment, help to ensure that Technical Awards offer a comparable level of challenge to GCSEs’ (DfE)
GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition is also an applied subject but the context for the learning is general. VCerts and Technical Awards are vocationally focused. These are not second rate courses, or below GCSE performance! For some students, placing their learning in the world of work engages them, but it does not make it easier – as many at the age of 15 will never have been in a working kitchen or catering environment. Working in an unfamiliar context is more challenging. They are not easier, they are different, and may suit different learners.
The assessment is not easier – it is scrutinised by OFQUAL (the same as GCSE). Level 2 Technical Awards are the same performance level as Level 2 GCSE in the qualifications framework. Some courses allow a candidate to ‘drop down’ to Level 1, so that you do not have to decide in advance which Level to enter them for, which may be helpful (and cheaper than double entry).
In GCSE, the NEA and written exam marks are added together, so that a learner who does less well on the paper, may still pass if they do well in their NEA. This would not be true in a Technical Award where learners have to pass all the elements to pass the qualification, including a written paper.
In deciding if this award is more suitable for your students than GCSE, take a close look at the Sample Assessment Materials (SAMs) published for each and any guidance/mark schemes. Try out the papers on your current cohort and see how they do and where they struggle.
‘[OFSTED]Inspectors found instances, in around 10 of the schools visited, where students with special educational needs and/or disabilities struggled to explain what they knew in response to theory-based written examinations. In these cases, schools were not working closely enough with examination boards to find alternative methods to enable students to convey what they know and can do’. (Ofsted, Meeting technological challenges? Design and technology in schools 2007–10)
В чем же проблема? - Джабба сделал глоток своей жгучей приправы. - Передо мной лежит отчет, из которого следует, что ТРАНСТЕКСТ бьется над каким-то файлом уже восемнадцать часов и до сих пор не вскрыл шифр.
Джабба обильно полил приправой кусок пирога на тарелке. - Что-что. - Как это тебе нравится.