A report from the University of Buckingham has branded the new diplomas to be introduced this September “a disaster waiting to happen”.
Eventually the diplomas for 14-19 year olds will offer three academic subjects in addition to 14 vocational ones with the aim of making it a “qualification of choice” that is as acceptable to universities as it is to businesses seeking craftspeople and technicians.
The authors of the critical report accept that there is a need for vocational courses that meet the needs of employers and ensure that students reach acceptable standards in English and maths and provide something that will give a meaningful qualification to those who may be practically minded but not highly academic. They just don’t think the new diplomas meet the mark because they will fail to hone the practical skills that they are supposed to celebrate.
Edexel, one of the three English exam boards, has also expressed doubts suggesting that early adopters of the new system may be delivering “worthless qualifications” because both businesses and academic institutions will need to be convinced they are achieving a reasonable standard.
Originally 50,000 students were expected to start the diplomas in the autumn but this figure has been cut back to 20,000 at most and only one private school has agreed to teach the diploma and only in one subject – engineering.
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