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It's all over the city

If it's Tuesday, it must be diploma day. Wolverhampton is leading the way in synchronised learning. Steven Hastings reports.Tuesdays and Thursdays are going to be diploma days in Wolverhampton. From next September, timetabling across the city's 18 secondary schools will be aligned so that key stage 4 pupils will study for their core GCSEs three days a week, with two days given over to either a Level 1 or 2 diploma or other qualifications, such as additional GCSEs. After the age of 16, Level 3 diplomas will be three days a week.

Wolverhampton is one of only a handful of local authorities given thego-ahead to offer all five diplomas in 2008. All the city's secondary schools are part of the consortium - meaning every pupil in Wolverhampton can tackle the diploma of their choice.

Working with the schools will be Wolverhampton College, a range of employers, private training providers and specialist organisations, such as Wolverhampton Primary Care Trust.

The functional skills element of the diplomas will be delivered through regular maths, English and technology lessons at the pupils' own schools. But diploma days will help them apply those skills to the world of work, and encourage them to get out of the classroom. The more specialist areas of a diploma could see pupils working anywhere in the city.

Traditional work experience will be updated to employer engagement, with pupils tackling projects in the workplace rather than with teachers.

It's likely to mean several short visits to a company during a term, rather than a single 10-day placement. It will be up to teachers to work closely with employers.

"We want to move away from a traditional classroom-based approach and offer something exciting, new and hands-on," says Elizabeth Love, of Wolverhampton local authority's 14-19 development team.

"Teachers will have a key strategic role. They'll have to decide which parts of the diploma they can deliver themselves and which parts need specialist input. Working with their partners, they can create a collaborative programme."

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