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From fragmentation and division towards unification: an analysis of a decade of post-14 qualifications reform

Spours, Ken (1998) From fragmentation and division towards unification: an analysis of a decade of post-14 qualifications reform. PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

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This thesis explores the reform of 14+ qualifications in England and Wales over the last decade.' I argue that the qualifications system has moved through different phases of development and is emerging, in the late 1990s, as a 'linked system'. Using a historical approach to periodising qualifications change, I argue that the 14+ qualifications system has moved through six phases of national policy development since the late 1970s - a precursor two-track phase, a prevocational phase, dualist strategy phase, a triple-track phase, a review phase and now a linkages phase. I go on to argue that these policy phases should also be viewed as constituting three 'overlapping eras' - the New Vocationalism, formally divided systems and unification. The concept of overlapping eras shows how there can be a co-existence of different policy initiatives and debates. The thesis goes on to argue that the dynamics of change, which move policy between phases and eras, are caused by external factors, internal system factors (reactions to of previous reforms and system weaknesses and the knock-on effect of reforms in other parts of the education and training system) and through the role of ideological interpretation. Using this approach to policy change, I argue that as the education and training system expands, internal system factors become more important than external factors as determinants of change. I conclude the thesis with three arguments: first, that the English qualifications system is currently poised between a flexible multi-track system and a unified system; second, there is a strong momentum building within the education and training system to move further towards unification; and third, there is a debate taking place about the type of unification strategy most appropriate to the English context and which can respond to the growing policy emphasis on lifelong learning.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Controlled Keywords: Qualifications,Upper secondary education,Middle secondary education,Key stage 4,Examinations
Subjects: Departments > Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Welshman
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2015 12:00
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2015 23:06
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