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NATFHE Respond to Government Adviser’s Recommendation

On the same day as Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary, refused to back down over her controversial choice not to scrap GCSEs and A Levels, NATFHE ““ the University and College Lecturer’s Union ““ welcomed the statement in support of the diploma from a leading Government advisor.

Ruth Kelly stated that she would stand by her commitment to retain the GCSE and A Level examinations, viewing them as “key”, and refused to be “diverted” from her mission of reform in education in Britain. College and school leaders have called upon the Education Secretary to reconsider her position and urge the replacement of these levels with a continental style diploma system, of the sort recommended in the Tomlinson Report by Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former Chief Inspector of Schools.

Keeping the “Gold Standards”?

In a February white paper, Ms. Kelly announced the retention of the so ““ called “gold standard” qualifications and proposed the introduction of vocational diplomas alongside them. And whilst she remains wary of the danger that focusing the public’s attention upon this issue will “drive the Government’s focus” in the same direction, she has stated that the Government’s aim is to encourage most students in post ““ 14 education to opt for the diploma route.

NATFHE’s response is to a speech that Dr. Ken Boston, Chief Executive of the Qualification and Curriculum Authority, will make at a conference of head teachers and college principals tomorrow, in which he predicts that A levels will be replaced and a new national diploma ushered in within a decade which would combine both academic and vocational subjects. NATFHE strongly support this move, as do the Association of Colleges, the Association of Headteachers and the Secondary Heads Association.

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Parity Between the Vocational and the Academic

The General Secretary of NATFHE, Mr. Paul Mackney, said: “We are heartened by Dr Boston’s view. NATFHE has consistently backed Sir Mike Tomlinson’s vision of an over-arching integrated diploma. We believe it is the only way that vocational qualifications, which are all too often wrongly perceived as second class, can be put on a level playing field with their academic counterparts.

“And only through such a diploma, can the UK hope to reverse its shamefully high drop-out rate at 16. We believe Sir Mike’s over-arching diploma should and could have been adopted earlier but instead the Government chose to fudge the issue by introducing separate vocational diplomas. We will campaign to ensure Dr Boston’s forecast becomes a reality.”

Jethro Marsh

Wherefore art thou, Tomlinson? Tell us in the FE Blog

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