Systems go for Tomb Raider diploma

Teenagers can study subjects from lathe craft to Lara Croft under a new creative qualification.

TEENAGERS CAN take courses in computer game design, television advertising and how to produce and market a radio programme, under a major qualification to be trialled from next year.

Others who fancy theatre set design, the impact of the fashion industry on young people, or how to draw a cartoon strip are also to be catered for.

These are among the courses being offered as part of just one of the Government's new diploma qualifications.

Although ministers have referred to them as one the most important education reforms going on anywhere in the world, critics fear that diplomas are also in danger of being undersold.

The creative and media diploma, one of five being launched in selected institutions next year, covers a host of subjects that seem likely to whet young appetites.

Offered at three levels, from lower grade GCSE standard to courses designed to be equivalent to two A-levels, the creative and media diploma aims to offer students a taste of some of Britain's most successful industries.

The courses are being offered in 20 employment fields, including interactive media, film and TV, creative writing, drama, music, dance, art and photography.

In the field of craft, courses could give students the chance to work with wood, metal, glass and ceramics - a move that some will see as reinstating skills lost from schools in recent years.

Those interested in computer games could be given the opportunity to learn about the history of the industry and to criticise the quality of games as well as evaluating their own work and that of their classmates.

Ian Livingstone, creator of cult games series Tomb Raider, told The TES he was glad computer games would be part of the qualification. "All future UK jobs will be in the financial, IT or creative industries, so it's important we have a workforce with the right skills," he said.

"The games industry alone employs over 25,000 people in Britain and contributes pound;2 billion a year to the economy."

The creative and media qualification, like all the diplomas, has been drawn up by employers. Exam boards are now working up the details, with final specifications to be completed by summer.

Groups of schools, colleges, local authorities and employers had to bid to run the first diplomas from 2008. Those approved to do so estimate that 10,000 students will take creative and media.

But the qualifications present huge logistical challenges, with many students needing to travel between institutions.

The Government also faces a challenge ensuring teachers have the skills to teach the diplomas.

One exam board source said: "The diplomas have huge potential, but there are so many variables that could scupper them if something goes wrong."

Countdown for launch

Which diplomas start next year?

Creative and media, information technology, engineering, health and social care, construction and the built environment.

In 2009?

Land-based and environmental studies, manufacturing, hair and beauty, business administration and finance, hospitality and catering.

And in 2010?

Public services, sport and leisure, retail, and travel and tourism.

The creative and media diploma will cover: 2D and 3D visual art, craft (such as wood, metal, glass and ceramics), graphic design, product design, fashion, textiles, footwear, advertising, drama, dance, music, film, television, audio and radio, interactive media, animation, computer games, photo imaging and creative writing.

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