As someone who was involved in a number of workshops and consultation sessions with People 1st while the new standards were being developed, I was interested to read about the difference in the number of questions between the two awarding bodies (Letters, Caterer, 2 February, page 20).
One comment frequently heard during the workshops was that there should be a return to the 706 series qualifications. I think the new standards retain the best of the NVQs and the best of the 706 series, namely observation by competence, which when done correctly is the best way to assess practical competence.
The depth of knowledge that was required for the 706 exams is now found in the new NVQs and should be tested correctly, even if that means an increase in the small number of questions that were associated with previous NVQs.
It's interesting to note that the letter writer gives an extra hour's theory a week. This is probably about right to cover what's required, especially since NVQs' course contact hours have been reduced year on year to the point where a full-time student is lucky if they get 16 hours a week. And most of that has to be spent on practical teaching - leaving precious little time for formal theory.
Phillip Dobbs, by e-mail
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