Specifically, for the students willing to learn with practical pertinence, there remains a serious lack of alternatives. This certainly tends to affect the performance of students at different academic levels leading to lower grades or even switching off (14-19 Education and Skills, 2005).
The government has realised the importance of vocational training and the availability of diverse pathways for students to choose what specifically suited their style and approach as careers. Stasz and Wright (2005, p8) state that, "vocational learning is identified as an important way to attract more young people to continue into some form of post-compulsory education and training and gain the skills the economy needs". Hence the promotion of technical and vocational learning for the critical age group of 14-19 has always remained a top priority in the educational policies and strategies introduced by the government.
The development of technical education started in the nineteenth century with establishing such examining bodies as The City and Guilds, which was founded in 1878. By the mid 1980s there were thousands of different qualifications available which were largely unrelated and which were not required to fit into any kind of national framework. It was difficult for specialists and impossible for ordinary people, the very people this system was supposed to have served, to see their way through such a complex structure. As a result in 1986 the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) was founded and its main aim was that of quality control. NVQs required work based experience, and, although they were sometimes taken in further education colleges and occasionally even in schools, their overall impact at the time on the training of 16 to 19 year olds was relatively small. By the late 1980s it became clear that the new qualifications, NVQs, intended to transform the training of the workforce were not making the impact which the Government had hoped for. As a result the new, General Vocational Qualifications were introduced.
GNVQs were officially announced in May 1991 in the White Paper, Education and Training for the 21st Century. GNVQs were expected to be an equivalent to relevant academic qualifications. The problems within GNVQ system were largely concerned with assessment and grading. GNVQs were expected to assess skills, knowledge and understanding rather than professional competence. Such assessment would be in a form of assessment by projects and assignments together forming a portfolio of evidence rather than through external examinations.
Schools and colleges have used GNVQs to provide for the needs of those students whose performance at GCSE was normally well below that of the most able students. As was noted in the study by Higham 'It is a paradox that GNVQ has been introduced to meet the needs of students for whom A level is considered inappropriate, and yet the two qualifications are intended to be of the same standard' (p.114).
The span of last 10 years has significantly remained pre-eminent in the development of policies in 14-19 educational sector. It became clear to leading politicians, as well as employers, that in order for the country to progress economically the education available for the vast majority of