Fiasco looms over diplomas

18th November 2005 at 00:00
Another exams debacle is looming over the Government's plans to introduce work-related diplomas within three years, employers' groups have warned.

The launch of the new qualifications, which depend on the support of employers and are designed to transform vocational education for hundreds of thousands of pupils, is being rushed and will allow no time for proper trials, they say.

The reforms were the centrepiece of February's 14-19 white paper, published in response to last year's Tomlinson report. The diplomas are intended to provide high-status work-related courses.

Diplomas in five subjects, including engineering, health and social care and construction, are being introduced by 2008, six years ahead of the timescale recommended to ministers by Sir Mike Tomlinson. The diplomas will not be trialled.

Sir Mike, who led the review, has said he fears the Government will repeat the error of the Curriculum 2000 reforms, which led to the A-level re-grading fiasco of 2002. "It looks as if it may result in there being insufficient time for proper piloting," he said. "I do not want to see the same mistakes made again."

A senior source from one sector skills council, one of the employer-led bodies involved in developing the diplomas, said: "It is going to be really difficult to design a national diploma that is fit for purpose in this timescale."

Teresa Bergin, of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, said the diploma schedule was achievable.

analysis 18

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today