From education to employment

Education Select Committee hears that start date should be postponed until 2009

Organisations across the skills sector are agreeing with criticisms set out in the Education and Skills Select Committee’s report on 14-19 Specialised Diplomas, published yesterday. One of the main concerns is that the diplomas are being produced to too narrow a timescale, resulting in insufficient “piloting, testing and evaluation” of the course content, according to the University and College Union (UCU)


UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt said: “This is an excellent report, exposing the poor development of the diplomas by the DfES in an unrealistic timescale. There has clearly been insufficient involvement of teachers and lecturers, awarding bodies and employers. The government has also ignored previous select committee advice, on A-level reform, not to rush such initiatives and changes,” she added.

In its submission to the select committee inquiry, the UCU expressed worries that the creation of another set of qualifications would maintain the divide between the academic and applied routes, and that Universities wouldn”t take the new qualification seriously. It also recommended postponing the start date till September 2009


John Hayes, Shadow Minister for Vocational Education commented: “It is of great concern that the Committee shares the doubts we have expressed about the implementation of the new Diplomas. Given the magnitude of the change it is vitally important that their introduction should not be rushed.

“Yet the report reveals concerns from organisations across the skills sector that the time-scale for the introduction of the Diplomas is too tight,” he added. “The Institution of Engineering and Technology says that “Insufficient time has been set aside either for the creation of new course content”, while the National Association of Head Teachers concludes that “The timescale for the introduction of Diplomas has been inappropriately and unrealistically short.”

“Of particular concern is the warning from The Edge Foundation that “The current time-scales are unrealistic – some would say dishonest – and unless relaxed, the Specialised Diplomas will fail as have very many similar initiatives over previous decades,” he said.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) were more positive in their response to the report. Maggie Scott, AoC Director of Learning and Quality, said: “Although Tomlinson was rejected, nevertheless AoC believes that, delivered with creativity and innovation, the Diploma could well pave the way for a single overarching education system for 14 to 19-year-olds that doesn”t discriminate between different types of learner.”

Annabel Hardy

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