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Volume 449: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what projections he has made of the number and proportion of pupils in the fourth key stage who will opt to study for (a) a general diploma and (b) a specialised diploma in each of the first five years following their introduction; (87353)

(2) what his Department’s targets are for the take-up of (a) academic and (b) vocational qualifications in each of the next five years;

(3) how many and what proportion of pupils (a) in the fourth key stage and (b) between the ages of 14 and 19 years he expects to opt for vocational qualifications in each of the next five years.

Chapter 6, paragraph 18, of the ‘Department’s Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners’, published on 8 July 2004, set out our aim to extend vocational options across all schools as part of our commitment to strengthening choice and the personalisation of the curriculum. To support this aim, the Strategy stated that we will dramatically increase the number of 14-16 year olds studying vocational subjects in schools, colleges and training providers to just over 180,000 by 2007-08.

The Department published its projections for 14-16- year-olds’ take up of specialised Diplomas in the 14-19 Implementation Plan, Chapter 1, page 20, figure 1.3. A copy of the Implementation Plan is in the Library. Figure 1.4 shows the estimated participation of 16-18- year-olds in education and work-based learning over the period 2002/03 to 2014/15. We expect the numbers of young people participating to increase as more learning options become available to them. We also expect the balance of provision to shift towards specialised Diplomas as these come onstream.

Young people wishing to do just GCSEs will be able to do so. They will also be eligible for award of the General Diploma when this is introduced in 2009.