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Response to Alan Johnson’s remarks that Diplomas could go “horribly wrong”

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of “pure cowardice” in not “wholeheartedly” pursuing the forthcoming Diplomas.

Responding to Education Secretary Alan Johnson’s controversial assessment that the introduction of the new Diplomas could go “horribly wrong”, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Sarah Teather has argued that Government policies are divisive.

She said: “It was pure cowardice that this government didn”t scrap GCSEs and A-levels and wholeheartedly pursue a modern British diploma combining the very best of academic and vocational learning. As it is, the Government’s policy continues to divide pupils into academic and vocational categories, refusing the very human possibility that a person might have interest and skills in both. It is not too late for Alan Johnson to correct that error”.

Mr Johnson was quoted as saying the Diplomas could go “horribly wrong” at the recent Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference.

Ms Teather added: “The ASCL is absolutely right to highlight the escalating cost of exams. Testing and paperwork of all kinds is costing our schools time and money that could be better spent on quality teaching. Funding discrepancies between schools need to be addressed. Pupils are missing out on the resources they need simply because of where they happen to live”.

“The Liberal Democrats want to see a comprehensive overhaul of school funding, with money targeted on individual pupils rather than whole areas, to eradicate these inequalities”.

Conservative Shadow Schools Spokesman, Nick Gibb commented on the furore, adding: “There is nothing inferior about high quality vocational courses. The Government needs to ensure rigour and expertise in the delivery of the specialised diplomas. Getting rid of A-levels and GCSEs would not assist in delivering that rigour”.

Vijay Pattni.

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