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Diploma double-thinking flags up complexity of vocational debate

I'm no fan of the Diplomas, but I do have some sympathy for teachers and lecturers working hard to deliver them.

Rather than being genuine alternatives, Diplomas have ended up being the worst of both worlds, mimicking the academic qualifications they seek equality of status with and consequently alienating the very students they were designed for.

A similar fate met the GNVQ when it was re-launched first as an "applied" A-level. Student numbers nosedived as schools and colleges returned to the BTEC-style courses that GNVQ was supposed to replace.

As your editorial implies (September 11), vocational qualifications will never be able to achieve parity while academic education continues to exist in the way that it does and be the only route of entry to established universities. The Tories may well abolish the Diplomas, but they won't be any more successful at improving the status of vocational learning. There again, they probably don't want to.

  • Dr Martin Allen, Hanwell.

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