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Specialised Diplomas

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether schools and colleges are permitted to conduct selection interviews with pupils before accepting them on to a diploma course; and if he will make a statement. (207504)

With regard to schools, legislation prohibits the interviewing of children or parents to determine admission to a maintained school (except where an interview is used solely to assess the suitability of an applicant for a boarding place). This includes admission to the school at year 12. However meetings can be held to provide advice on options and entry requirements for particular courses, both for new applicants to the school, and for those transferring within the school from year 11 to year 12.

As independent bodies, colleges are responsible for determining their own mission and managing their own affairs. This includes managing their own assets; being responsible for the employment of their staff; and setting their own policies and admissions criteria.

Our prime concern is that every young person is able to access the programme of learning that is best suited to their abilities and aspirations. Diplomas are an important part of ensuring the right choices are available to young people. The decision over whether a young person takes a diploma will be driven by what the young person wants to do, and what is in the best interests of that young person. The introduction of diplomas does not change the existing arrangements for admissions either to schools or colleges. It is a longstanding and common practice for both schools and colleges to have meetings with their students to advise them and help them choose the right courses of study for their needs. This is separate from admissions.