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TVEI - The Technical and Vocational Education Initiative

In ...


Work in Progress - needs to be completed


regional directors

MSC's futuristic building

Moorfoot, Sheffield

Creation of TVEI

TVEI was a project of the Manpower Services Commission (MSC) originally piloted in November 1982. MSC itself was established in 1973 with a general responsibility for promoting training for employment (McCulloch et al, 1985, p.196).

Although it was a quango of the Department of Employment the MSC became increasingly involved in school and college activities, partly because of the ambitions of its Chairman David Young and because the DES had no mechanism to hypothecate educational spend on government priorities. At that time most of the monies going into school education went to Local Authorities directly who could, and did, spend it on their own priorities. This meant that though the Goverment believed that the lack of skills in school leavers was failing the needs of industry and vocational education was high on government's agenda, they were frustrated because the DES was unable to direct monies specifically for this to schools(Fothergill, 1988, p27).

Following a meeting of the National Economic Development Council which discussed this relationship between education and industry in 1982, the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher turned to David Young and the MSC to develop a pilot scheme for "new institutional arrangements for technical and vocational education for 14 to 18 year olds, within existing financial resources, and where possible, in association with local authorities" (Hansard, 1982). Young (1990) describes this as his "Dawn Raid on Education" excluding officials and education professionals both at the centre and in the LEAs from the founding of TVEI (Yeomens, 1996).

This intervention had a big input into the use of technology in education, as Wellington (1988 p.2) says "The drive behind TVEI depended to a large extent on its perceived links to new technology and in particular information technology. One of the key factors behind the initiative was the continuing emphasis on "high-tech", industry in the early 1980's. This in turn led to the belief that future employment prospects would be greatest in IT based industry and commerce."

Aims of TVEI

The Aims of the TVEI pilot were set out in its operating manual from 1983 (Wellington, 1987, p.400) as:

A) In conjunction with LEAs to explore and test ways of organising and managing the education of 14-to-18 year olds across the ability range so that:

  1. more of them are attracted to seek the qualifications/skills which will be of direct value to them at work and more of them achieve these qualifications and skills;
  2. they are better equipped to enter the world of employment which will await them;
  3. they acquire a more direct appreciation of the practical application of the qualifications for which they are working;
  4. they become accustomed to using their skills and knowledge to solve the real-world problems they will meet at work;
  5. more emphasis is placed on developing initiative, motivation and enterprise as well as problemsolving skills and other aspects of personal development;
  6. the construction of the bridge from education to work is begun earlier by giving these young people the opportunity to have direct contact and training/planned work experience with a number of local employers in the relevant specialisms;
  7. there is close collaboration between local education authorities and industry/commerce/public services etc., so that the curriculum has industry's confidence.


B). To undertake A in such a way that:

  1. the detailed aims can be achieved quickly and cost effectively;
  2. the educational lessons learned can be readily applied in other localities and to other groups among the 14-18 year olds;
  3. the educational structures/schemes established to further the aims of the initiative should be consistent with progressive developments in skill and vocational training outside the school environment, existing vocational education for under-16 year olds and higher education;
  4. emphasis is placed on careful monitoring and evaluation;
  5. individual projects are managed at local level;
  6. the overall conduct, assessment and development of the initiative can be assessed and monitored by the MSC and the TVEI Unit it has established for this purpose.

How it operated

TVEI was initially set up as a pilot. It recruited schools, so some schools were TVEI funded, and some (initially) were not. Equally within schools there was a TVEI cohort of students and

TVEI Evaluation

The formal evaluation - Leeds

quoteIn some of the classrooms I visited over ten years ago as part of the National Evaluation of the TVEI Curriculum students and teachers exhibited a palpable sense of excitement and achievement.Yeomen (1996) Yeomen (1996) who worked on the Leeds evaluation provides a generally balanced judgement that whilst producing some remarkable blunders and waste of public funds it also promoted some stimulating developments. He said that in some of the classrooms he visited as part of the National Evaluation of the TVEI Curriculum students and teachers exhibited a palpable sense of excitement and achievement. He also said that during a follow-up study some five or six years later when he asked teachers to look back on their TVEI experience a small but significant minority referred to the those early days as their most stimulating and fulfilling time in teaching. He concluded that TVEI encouraged curriculum construction as a practical, multi-faceted, multi-level activity involving constant adaptation, modification and reconceptualisation. TVEI groped towards a middle ground between central prescription and decentralised, school-based approaches and he felt that it embodied Michael Fullan's (1993) advocacy of a judicious mix of support plus pressure for achieving curriculum change.

TRIST - TVEI Related In-Service Training


Demise of TVEI

TVEI was at its peak between 1983 and 1987 but from around 1988 its influence waned as the DES reasserted itself and the National Curriculum gained increased momentum. The initiative was increasingly marginalised and eventually ended in 1997 (Evans, 2008). TVEI was probably the UK's largest curriculum development programme at around £900 million.





Aldrich R., Crook D. and Watson D. (2000) Education and Employment: The DfEE and its place in history (Bedford Way Papers) Institute of Education, London

Evans, R. (2008) The Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) 1983- 1997 [online]

Fullan, M. (1993) Change Forces. London: Falmer Press.

Hansard, (1982) House of Commons Written Answers to Questions 12 November 1982, cols 269-70

McCulloch G., Jenkins E. and Layton D. (1985) Technological Revolution?, The Falmer Press, London

Wellington (1988) 'Information Technology in Education and Employment: A Critical Examination of Developments in Both Areas and the Relationship Between Them' PhD Thesis, University of Sheffield [online]

Yeomans, D. (1996) Constructing vocational education : from TVEI to GNVQ. Leeds: 14-19 Research Group, School of Education, University of Leeds [online]

Young, D. (1990) The Enterprise Years: A Businessman in the Cabinet. London: Headline