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Diplomas must be made more 'credible'

More work needs to be done to ensure the new work-based diploma is seen as “credible qualifications” according to an influential Parliamentary committee.

A report by the Committee of Public Accounts warned the introduction of diplomas could also “complicate an already complex system of qualifications for young people” while costing more per pupil.

From September this year diplomas were introduced covering Construction and the Built Environment and Engineering plus Creative and Media, Information Technology and Society, Health and Development. Eventually 14 subjects will be covered.

But the report noted: “The benefits of providing more educational options will only be realised if good-quality, comprehensive and impartial advice and guidance are available and easily accessible.

“Young people and their parents also need access to providers of information, advice and guidance services with good knowledge of all the options from age 14, otherwise there is a risk that many young people may not select the best option for them.”

The report said it would cost on average £1,000 more per annum to each 14 to 16 year-old undertaking the Level 1 and 2 diploma while those over 16 completing a Level 3 diploma instead of three A Levels would cost £1,500 more.

But, it also noted that a lot more work needed to be done to persuade people of the benefits of diplomas. It noted: “Understanding and acceptance of Diplomas by employers and higher education is essential to their success and appeal to young people and their families. But full acceptance is some way off.

“All consortia need to have in place strategies for engaging with employers and local higher education institutions and securing their support. As Diplomas are introduced, communications by the Department and consortia should clearly identify student experiences and the benefits achieved.”

Adequate training must also be provided to teachers delivering the diplomas according to MPs and so far only 45 per cent of consortia had carried out audits on skills.

The report said: “Many teachers and lecturers will require training to acquire new skills to teach the Diplomas. The Department and local authorities should quantify skills gaps and review whether each consortium has, or is developing, sufficient numbers of appropriately skilled teachers and lecturers to deliver the full range of Diplomas by 2013.”