Qualifications for adult learners
Chapter 6 Section 6
6.11 Whether learners get public funding or are investing their own money, they deserve qualifications which meet high national standards. We propose to use powers in the Education Act 1997 to ensure that this is the case. The QCA will assure the quality of all nationally recognised qualifications and their awarding bodies.
6.12 The range of qualifications available at levels 2 and 3 - GCSEs, A levels and GNVQs - are taken by some adults currently. We want to encourage more to do so. We propose to examine how qualifications targeted at adults can:
6.13 Such qualifications should recognise experience and achievement in work, and through other voluntary and family activities. Recording such achievement can be a powerful stimulus to learning. We propose that the qualification system should be developed to recognise that learning can take place in many different forms, and that it may not always be appropriate for everyone to be pushed along the same qualifications 'tramlines'.
6.14 We will develop and promote National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) which recognise the skills that people have attained at work. Available as units, they have been growing in popularity. With the newly established industry-led National Training Organisations and the QCA, we propose to ensure that individual NVQs meet the needs of individuals, changing skill requirements in industry and greater workforce flexibility. We also wish to develop the learning requirements of individual NVQs. NVQs will continue to be the cornerstone of Modern Apprenticeships and National Traineeships. We will also examine how far the NVQ system encourages adults to move up from level to level.
6.15 Many adults returning to learning want to take small steps. A full national qualification may not be the right goal for them to start with. We will be introducing a range of new entry level or 'starter' qualifications, aimed at those for whom foundation qualifications may be too daunting. We may need to go further. Many (including the Fryer and Kennedy committees) have called for a system in which people - particularly those taking the first steps back to education - can build up recognition for bits of learning at a time.
6.16 It may be possible to develop, within further education, a system of commonly understood credits as currently happens with arrangements for access to higher education for adult learners. This would be aimed at those undertaking courses which prepare for full qualifications. People could build up skills and knowledge bit by bit, as they needed it and when they could afford the time and investment. This would not prevent people from studying a particular unit even if they are not seeking a full qualification.
Q. Is a system of credit accumulation a sensible goal? What issues need to be addressed in establishing it?
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