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Specialised Diplomas

Volume 455: debated on Tuesday 16 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to promote the uptake of specialised diplomas (a) in (i) schools, (ii) higher education institutions and (iii) colleges and (b) among employers. (113097)

Schools, colleges, work-based learning providers, higher education institutions and employers, through Diploma Development Partnerships, have been involved from the beginning in the design of the new diploma qualifications and will be key to the delivery of them.

The Department has a number of channels through which we disseminate information to these stakeholders, e.g. regular emails, the 14-19 website (, Directgov, and the 14-19 newsletter for which there is a subscription list. The focus so far has been on getting information to providers in preparation for the Gateway process.

We have already received great interest from areas wishing to deliver the diplomas in 2008. A total of 1,121 self assessments were received from consortiums (partnerships comprising local authorities, learning and skills councils, schools, colleges, and employers/work-based learning providers) wishing to go through the Gateway process, which means that nearly every local authority area hopes to offer diplomas in 2008. The Gateway is a process that will assess consortiums and identify those best equipped to secure the necessary awarding body approval to deliver the diplomas in 2008.

On 12 December 2006, the Secretary of State announced our diploma “champions” who will promote the diplomas and wider reforms with their sectors. These are:

Sir Alan Jones, Chairman of Toyota as the diploma champion for employers;

Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former Chief Inspector of Schools and current chair of the Learning Trust in Hackney, as the diploma champion for schools, colleges and work-based learning providers; and

Professors Deian Hopkin, Vice Chancellor of London South Bank University and Michael Arthur, Vice Chancellor of the University of Leeds, as diploma champions for higher education.

In addition, the Department is undertaking the following specific activity to promote the uptake of Diplomas:

(i) nine regional conferences were held in October 2006 for schools and colleges and others involved in Gateway consortia, aimed at sharing information and practically supporting areas in the delivery of the 14-19 education reforms;

(ii) five regional conferences are being held throughout December and January to provide information to higher education on the diplomas and other reforms;

(iii) We are supporting the Association of Colleges to run a series of further education conferences on the 14-19 education reforms from February to March, which will include diploma workshops;

(iv) We are working with the CBI and others to engage employers in diploma delivery. The DDPs will also be promoting the diplomas within their sectors.

We do not expect all areas to be offering diplomas in September 2008. In spring 2007 we will be announcing which areas have passed through the Gateway process and will be offering diplomas for young people to study. We will then be targeting the young people and parents affected regionally with information to help individuals to make the best personal choice.