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Dulwich college adapts Tomlinson

One of England's leading private schools is to offer its own version of Sir Mike Tomlinson's diploma qualification within three months.

In the latest vote of support for the Tomlinson plans, which were rejected by ministers in February, Dulwich college is to launch a certificate for boys in its sixth form.

The south London school with annual boarding fees of pound;22,815 wants to recognise its students' success in areas which it believes are valued by employers but not assessed by traditional exams.

The certificate, which will be presented to 18-year-olds when they leave the school, will include a traditional academic element. Students will have to complete GCSEs in English, maths, science and a language, and pass four AS levels and three A-levels.

They will also have to write a 13,000-word essay in a subject of their choice. They must work in the community, either by doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, serving in the cadet force or prefect training.

Participation in sport, music or drama will also be compulsory, as will citizenship education.

Graham Able, master of Dulwich, said: "We liked so much of what Sir Mike suggested that we thought we would develop our own certificate."

Ministers rejected central aspects of the Tomlinson plans, which would have placed more emphasis on community service, team-working and cross-curricular projects under a new diploma. However, they are to pilot a voluntary extended essay from 2008.

The Dulwich certificate is the latest of several diploma-style qualification bids. Cambridge university's exams board is to offer a Tomlinson-type baccalaureate, while Cornish schools are offering a similar diploma.

The Government has pledged to review A-levels in 2008 but some schools are keen to introduce aspects of the diploma before then.

Sir Mike this week questioned ministers' plans to allow pupils to opt to take the extended essay and also to attempt harder questions which are to be introduced into A-level papers to help universities discriminate between top candidates.

A-level pupils should be required to take both these options, he told a National Union of Teachers 14-19 conference.

Otherwise, some schools would not offer them and universities would not not be able to use them in admissions decisions.

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