The Guardian has a handy summary of changes to the school curriculum in England from today, including this summary of the new Diplomas:
Starting this term are the first five diplomas in engineering, construction, information technology, creative and media studies, and society, health and development. There will be 17 in place by 2011. [including product design – see this post for news of the announcement]
The new qualifications are intended to be an alternative to GCSEs and A-levels for 14- to 19-year-olds, blending hands-on learning and theory.
There are three different levels of diploma: foundation (level 1), higher (level 2) and advanced (level 3).
All are made up of three parts: principal learning; generic learning and additional specialist learning.
Principal learning is made up of qualifications, or units, specifically developed for the diploma subject and a project.
Generic learning includes ‘functional skills’ such as English, maths and ICT, alongside presentation, communication and teamworking skills.
Additional specialist learning involves more academic theory, an extended project and other qualifications, such as a GCSE or A-level, chosen from a catalogue of approved awards.
Diplomas will also involve 10 days’ work experience, ideally in a field related to the diploma subject.
Remember, if you recruit English students to design courses at college or university, you need to know what’s in the diplomas as they are intended as entry qualifications to FE and HE. They won’t show up for a few years yet, but they will eventually. It would be worth finding out if a school near you is offering a diploma in your subject and getting in touch to make sure there’s no mismatch between what’s offered and what’s needed, and maybe to offer some time to give a talk or demo.