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New diploma, old problem

The replacement of subject-based qualifications, such as GCSEs and A-levels, with a diploma requiring grade C passes in English and maths presents Mike Tomlinson and his committee with a serious problem.

It is easy to demonstrate that the overall pass rate for the diploma must be lower than that in either of the compulsory subjects. So, if the diploma had been introduced in 2003, more than 49 per cent of students would have failed.

This would clearly be unacceptable for a national qualification at this level. The only solutions are either to lower the required standards in English and maths or to raise dramatically the absolute levels of student achievement in these subjects.

The first will not satisfy employers or universities and the second is something which has resisted the best efforts of schools and governments for many years. It will be interesting to see how this problem is resolved.

George Bethell

Director, Anglia Assessment

Stone Croft, Valley Road Battisford

Suffolk

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