Vocational Certificate of Education

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Vocational Certificate of Education, usually shortened to VCE or Vocational A-Level or AVCE, was a vocational qualification that used to be available in Further Education colleges and school sixth forms in the United Kingdom.

Subjects and assessment[edit]

VCEs were available in many subjects including Information and Communication Technology, Health and Social Care, Hospitality and Management, Leisure and Recreation, Travel and Tourism, Business. Many students prefer the vocational system because they can learn more from hands-on work, though others find it difficult to maintain their motivation because of the constant evaluation and coursework.

The qualification was created in September 2000 to replace the Advanced GNVQ, with the main change being that the marking system was altered from the three level Distinction, Merit and Pass system to A–E grading, bringing the AVCE into line with A-Levels.

AVCE was intended to lead on to higher education or employment.

The AVCE was made up of modules, each covering different aspects of the subject. Some of these modules overlapped and some institutes chose to virtually merge their content. Students had complete a set number of modules in order to qualify for an AVCE:

  • AVCE Double Award - 12 units (worth two A-levels)
  • AVCE Single Award - 6 units (worth one A-level)
  • ASVCE - 3 units (worth one AS-level)

Assessment was by a mixture of continuous assessment, based on a portfolio of evidence, and externally set and marked examinations.

Withdrawal[edit]

The regulatory body, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), along with Welsh equivalent ACCAC, decided in June 2004 to withdraw the Advanced VCE, with the final candidates starting in September 2004. They created and piloted an "Applied GCE (AGCE)" qualification to replace the AVCE. Edexcel withdrew AVCE ICT in June 2006 but students were able to re-submit coursework until November 2006 and could re-sit exams until January 2007. The GNVQ is still currently available in two forms – Foundation and Intermediate levels – which both work up to the Advanced level. This was withdrawn in 2007.

Student Reaction[edit]

The decision to withdraw the AVCE was hugely unpopular with many current and potential students, particularly those students who did not do very well at school but were still keen on going to college to first do a GNVQ then an AVCE.