We must ensure Diplomas have a colourful future

26th February 2010 at 00:00

As active supporters of 14-19 Diplomas, we welcome the consultation on vocational education ("Foundation campaign bids to add vocational Edge to election", January 29). The education system must nurture and develop the particular talents of every single young person, and prepare them for successful adult life.

However, we don't want young people to have to choose between "academic" or practical study - we want and need them to enjoy both. The new Diplomas have been designed not only to enable young people to pursue their talents, but also to ensure that they are offered a well-rounded education and leave with qualifications that are valued by universities and employers alike.

Rather than being a straight alternative to GCSEs and A-levels, Diploma options include GCSEs and A-levels, and every pre-16 Diploma student continues to follow the national curriculum. As the recent Ofsted report shows, Diploma students really are motivated by their education, and we find they relish the challenge and variety offered by project working supported by employers.

Diplomas are not vocational in themselves, but do include vocational options. Their educational approach ensures that they foster learning and skills that will be relevant to a wide range of sectors and jobs. The last three Diplomas - in humanities and social sciences, languages and international communication, and science - will mix theoretical and applied learning in the same way as the others. Young people studying these disciplines will have the opportunity to understand how their subjects can be applied in the world of work, and develop necessary employability skills. We hope that they will motivate many more young people to take up subjects they might otherwise have found irrelevant or boring.

We look forward to a lively debate engendered by Edge's campaign, but hope people realise that the battle is partly won. We now have a set of robust and challenging qualifications that give young people the chance to build solid foundations for the future. Let's give them a chance to succeed.

Clive Jones, Chairman, GMTV; Dr Terry Lamb, University of Sheffield; David Frost, Director general, British Chambers of Commerce.

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