Diplomas to take place of GCSEs and A-levels within a decade
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Diplomas to take place of GCSEs and A-levels

Online Italian Dictionary

  A government exams shake-up will see the eclipse of GCSEs and A-levels as the main qualifications for teenagers within a decade, senior exams advisers predict.

Ministers plan to introduce a network of 14 specialist diplomas, in subjects ranging from engineering to hair and beauty, by the end of decade. A 15th, in science, may be added later.

By 2013, they will guarantee every youngster in the land that they can study for whichever of the 14 diplomas they want.

Private discussions are already taking place with employers, universities - including the Russell Group which represents the top 18 higher education research institutions in the country - and leading independent schools in an attempt to ensure credibility for the new diplomas.

According to advisers, interest in the shake-up has already been expressed by a wide range of institutions - including Eton and Cambridge University.

The new diplomas will sweep away many of the existing vocational qualifications - but senior civil servants are anxious to stress that they will be a valuable qualification for high-flyers as well as less able pupils.

They can be studied at the equivalent of GCSE (a level-two diploma) and A-level (a level-three diploma). One of the attractions for university admissions staff is that the diplomas will include A-level content.

For instance, those studying for a level-three engineering diploma will study maths and physics to A-level standard as part of their course. They will be better equipped than youngsters at present who obtain three A-level passes to study for an engineering degree.

All diplomas will include the study of maths, English and information technology to the equivalent of a top- grade GCSE-level pass.

They will also include a special project - either an essay or practical work.

Under the proposed shake-up, a typical youngster would study for a level-two diploma and perhaps two other GCSE subjects at 16.

Youngsters opting to study a diploma can expect up to 30 days a year out of the classroom on work experience from the age of 14. Some may even be given a taster of work at 13.

The first five diplomas - in construction and the built environment; creative and media; engineering; health and social care and information technology - will be offered nationwide from September 2008. Senior exams advisers recognise the shake-up represents a "last chance" to put vocational qualifications on an equal footing to the traditional academic route.

They argue that they have embraced much of the content outlined by former chief schools inspector Sir Mike Tomlinson's inquiry into 14-to-19 education into the design of the new diplomas. However, they have still stopped short of embracing his demand that there should be an over-arching diploma covering both the vocational route and GCSE's and A-levels.

One of the battles ahead will be getting schools to back the new diploma, as they are likely to lose pupils to colleges under the shake-up. So far they have been lukewarm about the proposals as they acknowledge that they do not have the expertise to deliver them on their own.

The five new diplomas

* CONSTRUCTION: Design, planning and social and environmental issues, job roles, tools and construction techniques.

Impact of the built environment on individuals and society.

* ENGINEERING: Maths and physics and their application to engineering. Impact on society and sustainability.

* HEALTH, SOCIAL CARE: Health, wellbeing and lifestyle; safety, security and risk; infection prevention and control; causes and impact of offending behaviour; services, procedures and medication.

* CREATIVE, MEDIA: Critical analysis, developing creative ideas and creative problem solving; new technologies; business skills, including marketing. Five disciplines from a range including fashion design, advertising, dance, drama and music, film and TV, radio, animation.

* I.T.: Impact on globalisation, designing systems, its effectiveness in a work environment, business English and maths
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                                                                                News by Independent Published: 04 November 2006
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