Colin Bell and David Raffe
The Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) was introduced, as a pilot scheme, in England and Wales in 1983 and in Scotland in 1984. It was explicitly experimental. It aimed ‘to explore and test ways of organizing and managing the education of 14-18 year old people across the ability range’ in order to strengthen the links between education and ‘the world of employment’ and to increase the relevance of education to that world. This was to be done in such a way that (among other things): ‘the educational lessons learned can be readily applied in other localities and to other groups among the 14-18 year olds;…emphasis is placed on careful monitoring and evaluation;…the overall conduct, assessment and development of the initiative can be assessed and monitored by the MSC (MSC, 1984).
Each local authority in Britain was eventually permitted to run a TVEI pilot project—typically based in a small number of schools, in conjunction with a local further education college, and on ‘experimental’ cohorts of 200/250 pupils drawn from consecutive school year groups. But local diversity was encouraged. These were planned as pilot projects from which education authorities were meant to learn. The emphasis on innovation in TVEI, the scope for schools and projects to try out different approaches, and the distinction (at least in most early projects) between an ‘experimental group’ of TVEI students and ‘control group’ of non-TVEI students: all these factors combined with the published aims of TVEI to give the initiative something of the character of a scientific experiment. It was a scientific venture, moreover, on which the three worlds of research, policy and practice worked together.