Diplomas undermined further by new government

25 Jun 2010

 The coalition government has acted again to undermine the diplomas brought in by the last government - but continues to stop short of outright abolition.

Having already terminated the final 'phase 4' diplomas, and cut most of the support funding for the other diplomas, ministers have now also scrapped the 'Extended Diploma' and ended the requirement that every school offers its pupils an entitlement to study a diploma if they wish.

The Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, has insisted that this does not mean that the government is against diplomas. He said the government wants to see how they work and to learn from them to improve vocational education.

However their actions speak louder than their words and many feel that diplomas are being left to wither on the vine, with the government preferring either out-and-out academic courses (such as the iGCSEs) or more practical options, such as the expanded apprenticeship programme.

The last government had planned to introduce an 'entitlement' for all pupils to be able to study the diploma.

Many of the schools which have already started the diploma remain enthusiastic about the new hybrid qualification, which provides academic study in a vocational context.

But at a national FE conference I chaired this week there was little enthusiasm for the diplomas, with colleges seeing better prospects for growth from apprenticeships.

One thing, though, is clear: thousands of students now look at risk of having been encouraged to take a qualification which, in a few years, may be obsolete and forgotten.

They will have been badly served by this pendulum politics.

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