Three days to master diplomas

Staff training for world's biggest education reform is condemned as 'woefully inadequate'

Five thousand teachers and lecturers are to receive training to teach the Government's new specialised diplomas from September, The TES can reveal.

As ministers gear up for the world's biggest education reform, staff will receive three days' training next autumn and spring to prepare for the teaching of diplomas in five subjects in selected schools and colleges from September 2008.

Overseen by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, the training will go some way to assuage critics who say the diplomas are being introduced without proper preparation. They have condemned the three-day programme as "woefully inadequate".

With the Government hopeful that 50,000 students will take the new courses from next year, this would equate to one teacher for every 10 pupils. The diplomas, which within six years will be offered in 14 subjects at three levels, are hugely complex.

Last week, employers' representatives, who have designed the diplomas, said ministers should consider delaying the new work-related qualifications by a year. Among the most serious concerns has been an alleged lack of preparedness among teachers to deliver the new courses. This has been a weakness of many previous attempts at vocational reform.

A website is also being set up that will provide training materials online.

The first five diplomas, in health and social care, information technology, construction, engineering and creative and media are being tested from 2008 in schools and colleges approved to run them by the Government. Decisions on schools and colleges that qualify are expected by March.

Paul Hafren, principal of Warrington college, expressed concern this week to the House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee. He said: "If you are trying to create a revolution on the basis of three days' training, it's woefully inadequate".

Conservative and Lib Dem members of the committee suggested this week that the diplomas are a "car crash" waiting to happen.

The Association of School and College Leaders said that "the sheer size of the structure will almost inevitably lead to a massive amount of bureaucracy".

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