‘Academic’ Diplomas axed

The Government has scrapped ‘academic’ Diplomas in humanities, languages and science.  Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, announced the move on Monday, saying that this would mean instant savings of around £1.77 million.

He said:

“It’s not for Government to decide which qualifications pupils should take, or to force the development of new qualifications, which is why we are stopping development of the state-led ‘academic Diploma’… Instead, we will devote our efforts to making sure our existing qualifications are rigorous, challenging and properly prepare our young people for life, work and study.”

I’ve got mixed feelings about this news.  Certainly, science options can feel a bit ‘crowded’, with GCSEs in Science and Applied Science; Biology, Chemistry and Physics as separate subjects; and lots of work-related qualifications from awarding bodies like Edexcel and OCR. 

However, the Science Diploma, with its mix of practical learning and theory, would have offered something new.  The pharmaceutical industry expressed its disappointment at this week’s news; the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) had ‘warmly welcomed’ the Science Diploma, recognising that young people must be able to apply their scientific and mathematical knowledge in the workplace.  Diplomas, with inbuilt work experience and functional skills, are geared towards helping students apply their skills in the real world.

In particular, the Government seems to have missed an opportunity by dropping the Diploma in Languages and International Communication.  This was to have helped young people to apply language and intercultural skills outside the classroom.  Work experience in, say, an export sales office could really have helped pupils understand why languages are so important in business. 

With Michael Gove also ‘scaling back’ support for delivering the existing Diplomas, how do you see the future of this controversial qualification?

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