An easy route to ‘not very qualified'?

02 February 2006
An easy route to ‘not very qualified'?

I have been working since September with a group of level 3 candidates on the long-awaited new vocational qualifications. I have been involved in developing them with People 1st, which has done a good job in producing standards that allow centres to asses candidates using the core preparation and cooking methods, at the same time increasing the depth and breadth of the knowledge required, something that was sadly lacking in all previous NVQs.

Our awarding body is the Hospitality Awarding Body (HAB). The questions in its portfolio are new and up-to-date and cover all the requirements of each unit. We have an extra hour's theory a week to ensure we provide the candidates with the required knowledge and to provide opportunity to cover the questions, of which there are a number.

In preparation for the move back to City & Guilds in September, I recently looked at the guild's questions for the units we deliver to identify whether any adjustments to our teaching were needed. I was surprised by the number and type of City & Guilds questions and found it hard to imagine that they were questions for the same qualifications, as they do not cover all the knowledge requirements. A simple comparison best shows this: HAB candidates have 53 questions for "prepare, cook and finish complex meat and poultry dishes", 51 for "prepare, cook and finish complex fish dishes" and 55 for "prepare, cook and finish complex soups". A candidate with City & Guilds has 15, 13 and 15 questions respectively. How can this be a national qualification when the two awarding bodies have totally different interpretations? Level 3 is now the highest craft-based vocational qualification and, as such, the questions should surely reflect this.

If the City & Guilds questions are the only option for September, then the only positive thing I can see is that all candidates will reach - and in a short space of time - a 100% achievement rate. NVQ, however, could come to mean "not very qualified".

Name and address withheld

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