Two researchers at Queen's University, Belfast are beginning a study which could pave the way for closer links between A levels and GNVQs.
Alex McEwen, reader in the school of education, and Carol McGuinness, senior lecturer in psychology, have won a Pounds 60,000 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council for a two-year investigation of the similarities and differences between the two curricula.
"The division has perhaps been an over-simplified one, between knowledge and skills," said Dr McGuinness. "Not all learning resides in conceptual knowledge, and there are some interesting connections between how you do a thing and what you know about it."
The researchers will ask around 40 teachers and their pupils to keep diaries of lessons over the school year, which will reveal how far the knowledge and learning goals overlap between academic and vocational courses. Science, and economics and business will be among the subjects investigated.
Dr McEwen said the Government and educationists clearly recognised the need to broaden and deepen curricular opportunities for 16 to 19-year-olds.