New diploma, old problem

27th February 2004 at 00:00
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


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