Meeting the timelines for the new 14-19 Diplomas has presented a major challenge, according to Vanaraji Bishop, strategic manager at QCA.
Speaking at the Institute of Educational Assessor’s summer conference in London last week, Ms Bishop described the Diplomas as “far-reaching, innovative reforms” in the 14-19 sector. 14 “lines of learning” ““ five in phase 1, five in phase 2 and five in phase 3 – are due to be rolled out over a period of three years from 2008-10, with a possible 15th Diploma being researched in science.
“The timing is quicker than set out in the 14-19 White Paper,” said Vanaraji Bishop. “The qualifications have just been received this week at QCA, and we”re in the process of accrediting them for the end of June. By September specifications will be available to those consortia, as well as sample assessment material.
“We have a big challenge developing the diploma with the timescale that’s been given,” she added. “We”re committed to making sure that that happens, but the timelines have been tight and it’s been difficult. We”re delivering the diplomas as a partnership [“¦] so consortia have been set up, and that’s a challenge.”
The Diplomas will be available in five main areas from 2008: engineering; society, health and development; construction and the built environment; IT and creative and media, and available as a national entitlement from 2013. They are seen as bridging the divide between vocational and academic qualifications; more geared towards university than apprenticeships and NVQs and more geared towards industry than A-levels and GCSEs.
Ms Bishop described the qualifications as “Far-reaching, innovative reforms,” and added, “They are about education and not training, employability and not jobs. We”re not thinking about competency or being job-ready, but a broad-based education system.”
Employers and awarding bodies have teamed up with schools, colleges and universities to form Diploma Development Partnerships (DDPs) to develop content, with one DDP for each line of learning, or Diploma. “Success relies on effective communication between these partners, and each partner has to agree the outputs for each stage,” said Ms Bishop.
“The greatest challenge is to win hearts and minds and inspire real public confidence in this qualification,” she added. “We want to make sure the diplomas command respect and want them to be considered as quality qualifications. We must be prepared for detractors who will hark back to a golden age, but if there’s a golden age of qualification its in the future, not the past.”
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