Dearing (1996)

Dearing Review 1996 (complete)

The Dearing Review (1996)
Review of Qualifications for 16-19 year olds

SCAA Ref: COM/96/460
ISBN 1 85838 103 7

[Note SCAA no longer exists.]

Hayes: SCAA Publications 1996
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Notes on the text


Sir Ron Dearing (1930-2009) joined the civil service at the age of 16 and rose to various senior positions. He went on to become Chairman and Chief Executive of the Post Office and Chancellor of the University of Nottingham.

He chaired a number of committees which produced reports on education:

1994 The National Curriculum and its Assessment
1996 Review of Qualifications for 16-19 year olds
1997 Higher Education in the learning society.

The 1996 review

In April 1995 Secretary of State for Education and Employment Gillian Shephard invited Ron Dearing

to consider and advise the Secretaries of State for Education and Employment and for Wales on ways to strengthen, consolidate and improve the framework of 16-19 qualifications (Dearing 1996:1).
The aim was to encourage greater parity of esteem between academic and vocational qualifications. However, the exercise was a fairly pointless one, because in her letter to Sir Ron (10 April 1995) Shepherd wrote 'Our key priorities remain to ensure that the rigour and standards of GCE A Levels are maintained'. This made any radical overhaul of the system almost impossible.

Nevertheless, Dearing decided to go ahead with his review. He was assisted by a team of twelve drawn from the Department for Education and Employment, the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) and the Further Education Development Agency. The report was published in March 1996.

The report online

The report was published by SCAA as a 154-page A4-size paperback, and it is this document which is presented here. (The appendices and a summary report were published separately).

The formatting of the text (bold, italics, centred etc) is a reasonably accurate representation of the printed version, but the pages presented here are not exact facsimiles of the original: the font (Times, Arial etc) and size of print - and therefore the number of words to a line and lines to a page - are determined by the settings you have chosen for your web browser. However, the page breaks are correct. In other words, if something is shown here as being on, say, page 103, you can be sure it appeared on page 103 in the original.

I have corrected a dozen or so typing errors: if you spot any more, please let me know - contact details are here.

An erratum slip was inserted in the report pointing out an error in Table 7 on page 87. I have corrected this error, so Table 7 as it appears here is correct.

Summary of the report's recommendations

The report contains 198 recommendations which can be found throughout the text. They are also collected together in Section 16 of the report.

The report recommended that there should be:

  • a national framework of qualifications embracing the academic and the vocational;
  • greater cooperation between awarding bodies;
  • greater clarity of purpose;
  • greater focus on skills;
  • consistency of standards at A level;
  • a reformulated Advanced Supplementary level (AS);
  • recognition of a wider range of achievement;
  • monitoring of candidate achievement by gender, racial origin, socioeconomic group, disability and learning difficulty to ensure greater accessibility.

The 1996 Dearing Review and the above notes were prepared for the web by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 3 March 2014.

The Dearing Review 1996 (complete)