Diploma double-thinking flags up complexity of vocational debate

18th September 2009 at 01:00

Your analysis of Diplomas, which contained the example of the pupils who achieved A* in GCSE but repeatedly failed the corresponding functional skills test, speaks volumes about the confused thinking in education.

The fact that these intelligent students, taking a "gold standard" qualification, could not apply that knowledge in a meaningful way must cause us to question the sanctity of our GCSE and A-levels.

As the real gold standard was out of tune with modern demands at the time, the clamour to tinker with the system and return to O-levels and "harder" A-levels hints at a similar need to hold onto a past that does not give our employers and universities what they need. As a nation, we need new qualifications; more effective and varied ways of assessment.

Using the flaws of the Diploma to question whether we can create genuine competitors to GCSE and A-level is a symptom of the confusion felt by all. We need a genuine baccalaureate combining the best we have, whether it be vocational, "academic", applied, functional, work-based, school-based or college-based. Is going for the simple option too much to ask of our politicians?

  • Dr Steven Geraghty, Serlby Park, Nottinghamshire.

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