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Earlier this year a Birmingham headteacher claimed teachers were encouraging pupils to take the GNVQ route -which can yield an equivalent of up to four GCSEs -in order to boost their league table position.
The Government insists GNVQs -aimed at making sure practically-skilled pupils get more out of the education system -are of equal merit to GCSEs, not an 'easy option'.
The amount of GNVQ entries in Birmingham more than doubled in 2002 to 2,675, compared to 1,112 in 2001.
After passing his GNVQ in business, Mark progressed on to an NVQ in business and soon discovered the advantages of working beyond the classroom.
The business has links with schools and colleges, offers annual work placements, supports Advanced GNVQ coursework and organises port tours
The qualification, which was developed by the OCR exam board, is seen as a replacement for the controversial GNVQ course in ICT, which was also worth four A* to C grade GCSEs.
Linthorpe-based Purple Homes ran a competition among students on the GNVQ level 1 and 2 course at Cleveland College of Art and Design to produce images for its new development in Norton.
Students celebrating outstanding individual success included: Will Best, who achieved 10 A*s and one A; Sumaiya Lakha who achieved one A*, six As, three Bs and a GNVQ pass in ICT; Sam Thomas who achieved four A*s and seven As; Emily Campbell, who gained four As and seven Bs; Stephanie Smith, who achieved six As and five Bs and who recently joined Mensa; and Ruhamah Joseph who achieved two A*s, four As, five Bs and a GNVQ in ICT.
The qualification was introduced to replace the GNVQ, offered to pupils after their GCSEs, if they did not want to take the traditional academic route of A-levels.
First and second year GNVQ level 3 hair and beauty students gave their backing to the launch of NERD when Aspire's executive director Deborah Carrington, pictured far right, took an example of the advertising campaign with her to South Tyneside College.
The 18--year--old is now working her way through a GNVQ,a vocational qualification, in nursery nursing and she loves it.
Education: Halesowen College studying GNVQ advanced Leisure and Tourism.
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