Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

The English Translation

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

The English Translation

Article excerpt

An American health occupations teacher visits london to share tech prep tips

Jumping from the train at the Underground Station in London, I am propelled by the masses of people as I hurry down Kensington High Street for my appointment at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Careers, Training and Employment Service. I am keenly aware of how far tech prep education has taken me. After teaching health occupations for two years, I realized the need to update my skills and education so that I could present my students the latest in health technology. My current nursing graduate school curriculum brings me from San Angelo, Texas, to London, England, to study and research trends in vocational education.

As part of graduate study to explore cultural diversity in London, members of the master's in nursing program at Abilene Intercollegiate school of Nursing participate in various exchange programs to investigate personal areas of interest in health care fields. My focus was on the British vocational education system, especially health occupations education. Other classmates researched such topics as health care reform in England, availability of over-the-counter drugs, nursing education and the English Hospice initiative.

My appointment with the counselors at the Careers Service Center is the climax of three months of telephone interviews with British education administrators and a review of their education system. Equipped with information on vocational education in the United States compiled by my career and technology director, Royce Burrows, and tech prep consortium director, D'Arcy Poulson, I look forward to a lively international exchange of information.

The Careers Service Center counselors whom I personally interviewed had never heard of tech prep, nor had any of the English education administrators that I spoke with over the phone.

A preliminary study of the current English vocational system showed that, as in the U.S., changes in British education have been driven by rapid technological advances and intense international competition. The global imperative to establish cooperation between educational and business is designed with the intent to ensure trained workforces that are closely matched with their respective nation's economies.

Toward this end, tech prep has been developed in the U.S., and its counterpart, the "technical and vocational education initiative" (TVEI) is emerging in Great Britain. While both education initiatives assert that too much emphasis has been placed in the past on traditional academic achievement at the expense of vocational and technological knowledge and skills, Great Britain's system differs significantly from that of the U.S. in its perspective and implementation of vocational education programs.

The main qualification taken by high school students in England is the general certificate of secondary education (GCSE). This exam is taken by 16-yearolds after 11 years of general education. Students who pass the exam continue an academic route of education-the advanced, or A level-for two more years. This is the standard for entrance to higher education and many forms of professional training.

The alternative education route for students who fail to pass the academic exam is vocational education. Courses are offered in business, health and social care, hospitality and catering, leisure and tourism, manufacturing and science. TVEI is the largest curriculum development project funded and administered by the central government of Great Britain. In 1993-1994, 80,000 British students were registered in TVEI and received vocational training and preparation for specific areas of employment.

My purpose for arranging interviews with counselors from the Careers Service Center was to obtain impartial information about the worlds of education and work in Great Britain. The Careers Service is a private and independent counseling source that provides objective career guidance to all students between the ages of 16 and 21. …

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