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Exam boards will take reins of Diplomas as QCDA faces the end

Exam boards are to be given sole charge of the 14-19 Diplomas, with the Government and its quangos ceasing to have any involvement in the controversial qualification, the Education Secretary has said.

Michael Gove revealed the news in a letter confirming the widely expected abolition of the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA).

The QCDA and the Department for Education had been heavily involved in promoting and administering the Diploma, a new qualification dreamt up by the previous Labour government as a potential to rival A-levels.

In his letter to Christopher Trinick, QCDA chair, Mr Gove says agency staff currently supporting the administration of the Diploma and other exams will only be needed "until these activities are no longer required or can be transferred".

"I should say that my view is that is that Government or its agencies should in principle not be involved in this kind of work in the future, which is properly the domain of awarding bodies," the Education Secretary writes.

He said legislation to abolish the QCDA would be introduced in the autumn. Staff working on national tests would continue to be needed after the agency closed. But Mr Gove said: "In other areas - notably qualifications development and the curriculum - I would want QCDA to withdraw as soon and as far as is practicable, and continue with activities only where it is necessary in order to comply with a statutory duty or where I am clear that not to do so would jeopardise the interests of learners."

The #163;120 million-a-year quango only came officially into being on April Fool's Day. But Prime Minister David Cameron had said as long ago as July that the QCDA "must go" and former chief executive, Andrew Hall, has already jumped ship to head an exam board.

Mr Trinnick said: "Our priority is our staff, so we are focusing on their well-being during this time of uncertainty." But he said the agency would continue to focus on its work so that teachers and pupils were not affected by the changes.

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