The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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‘Technical’, ‘vocational’, ‘professional’ education: what’s in a name?

By Tami McCrone

NFER’s recent review of technical education for the Association of Colleges found that there is no universal understanding of what is meant by vocational and technical education. Despite that difficulty, it is possible to isolate the constituent parts of effective vocational teaching and learning, but not for effective technical education.

So what exactly are vocational and technical courses? Continue reading


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Vocational education – a desirable choice?

By Sarah Lynch

The demands from the business world could not be clearer. Employers increasingly want young recruits who have the communication, team-working and practical skills underpinned by appropriate standards of literacy and numeracy needed to thrive in the workplace. Continue reading


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V is for vocational… V is for valuable!

By Sarah Lynch

As a parent with (some) knowledge of the educational choices facing young people, I am already wondering what pathway my son will take…and he’s only five years old! Parental influence is so important, and our views are often swayed by the ‘traditional’ academic routes we might have taken ourselves. But there are other valuable routes available to young people that we should consider. Continue reading


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Whose needs will the new TechBacc serve?

The government has recently announced its plans to introduce a new TechBacc performance measure.  There must be virtually unanimous support among young people and stakeholders for such an idea, in particular I would expect this route to be appealing for young people who prefer and are more motivated by an applied learning route.  There are some valuable elements of the proposal, however, I also have some concerns about the detail, as well as the speed of its implementation. Continue reading