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Sector News, 31 March - 4 April 2008

Hundreds of qualifications for teenagers likely to go in vocational diploma reforms - The Guardian, 1 April

Ministers have unveiled plans for a large cull of qualifications to make way for the new diploma.  The 6,500 qualifications currently on offer to teenagers will be streamlined by a new vetting body.  In addition the Government has dropped a pledge by Tony Blair that students will be able to take an International Baccalaureate.   Ed Balls argues for a more comprehensive coherent qualification, others argue that he is denying choice and closing down opportunity.  Course such as C&G for parking attendants; certificate in bartending and serving fast food; BTec in body massage and the GCSE equivalent in nail art could go. 

Grow your own diploma - Education Guardian, 1 April

“A qualification quietly being piloted bears a striking resemblance to ideas in the Tomlinson report on skills”.  AQA, one of three exam groups on England, has gained accreditation for its own version of the new diploma.  The AQA Bacc (based on a Bacc developed in Farnborough) is being piloted by 36 schools and colleges this year.  Students take their usual three A levels plus an AS in general studies, critical thinking or citizenship and in addition 100 hours of enrichment activities such as community work, debating and drama.  Student are also required to submit a 5000 word report on a research project of their choice. 

Pupils to bank credits the mix ‘n’ match way - TES, 4 April

Ministers want to introduce a credit-based structure in which all courses are given a rating according to their perceived difficulty and the time needed to teach them. There is a desire to allow for the mixing and matching of GCSE, A level, 14-19 diploma and vocational courses. 

Vocational courses to be squeezed out - TES, 4 April

More on the threat to remove a number of vocational courses which the Government says are not popular.  It seems likely that:

  • vocational qualifications with fewer than 100 candidates will be scrapped
  • there will be a move to a new credit-based system for 14-19 by 2013
  • local authorities are no longer requires to offer International Baccalaureate (by 2010)
  • Advanced Extension Awards will be scrapped next year
  • applied A levels will be phased out

Cutting it in the workplace - TES, 4 April

“Employers are more impressed by well rounded people with communication and teamworking skills than vocational training”.  Specific vocational and business skills are bottom of companies’ wish lists for college leavers.  Employers see good standards of literacy, communication and teamwork as far more important.