Realizing Standards of Practice in VET

  • Maggie GregsonEmail author
  • Brian Todd
Reference work entry


The Sainsbury (Report of the independent panel on technical education, Department for Education and Skills, London, 2016) draws attention to the importance of ensuring that proposed new standards for vocational and technical education in England are not reduced to the simplistic functional analysis of narrow job roles (an approach prevalent in England from the 1980s to the present), or limited to include only the short-term, instrumental needs of individual employers. This lesson is either hard to hear or difficult to learn. Over 20 years ago, Wolf (Competence based assessment. Open University Press, London, 1995) and, more recently, Wolf (Review of vocational education. Department of Business Education and Skills, London, 2011) warned of dangers in the use of functional analysis in the development of vocational standards on the grounds that such approaches tend to lead to the production of “bewildering lists of atomised ‘skills’ and a rather ‘tick-box’ approach to vocational assessment.” Behind this stands the deeper point, that the search to find an absolutely perfect list of vocational standards of knowledge, skills, and attitudes is costly, time-consuming, and ultimately self-defeating because, at the end of the day, all that you have is a longer/different list. Sennett (The Craftsman. Penguin, London, 2008) reminds us that what we mean by good quality work and what we consider to be effective approaches to assessment are central to good educational practice in a wide variety of vocational contexts. Literature from the field of educational research supports the claim that when teaching, learning, and assessment are seen as integrated forms of good educational practice, high levels of achievement can be realized. However, meaningful and workable standards of quality and research-informed assessment practice are not yet well understood or widely evident in the English system of vocational education and training (and possibly elsewhere).


Apprenticeships Formative and summative assessment Functional analysis Quality Vocational education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of SunderlandSunderlandUK
  2. 2.Training DepartmentSIEMENS Energy ServicesNewcastle-upon-TyneUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joy Papier
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Post-School StudiesUniversity of the Western CapeCape TownSouth Africa

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