Diploma envy?

Perhaps the negative approach to diplomas of Bernard Trafford, the vice-chair of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, is more a sign of envy that the independent sector may not have the resources to deliver them as effectively as other sectors ("Diplomas threaten our independence", TES, November 28).

The diplomas' practical content tends to be focused on the foundation level because of the expectation that it will be taken by more learners with practicalvisual learning styles.

The higher level is both challenging and stimulating which is exactly what is required for learners who have become disillusioned with the sometimes tedious approach of the more traditional pathways. Dr Trafford does not provide an alternative solution for these learners who are growing in number.

Turning to work experience, ideally this should be subject based, but it is not essential. It needs to be marketed effectively to employers so that it can be used as a tool for future recruitment: many practitioners have expressed their disappointment that it is 10 days minimum.

Dr Stafford claims that "time spent away from academic study will damage their chances". Rubbish! If work experience is managed effectively, it will be a valuable learning experience reinforcing the diploma.

Roger Thomas, Trainer and writer for the environmental and land-based diploma, St Albans, Hertfordshire.

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