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Diplomas downside

Pupils could be put off taking new work-related diplomas because the qualification requires them to demonstrate mastery of core subjects, according to the head of the exams watchdog. To pass the diploma at level 2 or GCSE equivalent students must also pass functional skills tests in literacy, numeracy and information technology. In a letter just released to Alan Johnson, the former Education Secretary, Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, said the functional skills requirement "is likely to have a significant impact on pass rates". He said: "There may be a negative impact on uptake."

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