Get ready for the starter's gun

30th March 2007 at 01:00
The 14-19 diploma is the most radical education reform since the abolition of O-levels and creation of the national curriculum. The design of a single qualification at three levels that brings equal esteem to vocational and academic studies has seen unprecedented collaboration among teachers, business people, parents and government.

This special report explores the extent and value of diploma development partnerships (pages 12-13) and gives a voice to diploma champions from all walks of life (pages 6-7). Snapshots of what the first five diplomas of the 14 to emerge over the next six years will look like and what they offer young people are given (pages 14-15) and a glimpse of the journey through Diploma Town is mapped out (pages 8-9). Support available to teachers and trainers is spelled out below and pathfinder schools and colleges offer their advice (pages 4-5 and 10-11).

As Ken Boston, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority chief executive, says (page 5), a 14-19 diploma is more than a qualification. "Diplomas are new, not just new qualifications but new study programmes, new approaches to teaching and learning and a new employer-endorsed curriculum designed to give all 14- to 19-year-olds a fully rounded education and equip them for higher education and employment."

Ian Nash, 14 to 19 editor

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