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Cautious welcome to new diplomas

Date 29 Oct 2007
Author The Editor

The CBI has welcomed plans to offer 14 to 19-year-olds a wide choice of diplomas to study alongside A levels and GCSEs but said they needed to pass three key tests.

Richard Lambert, CBI Director-General, said: "The diplomas are designed to ensure young people develop the skills they need - literacy, numeracy and employability - and make them realise how these skills are relevant to their working lives. The diplomas will also provide valuable insights into the way particular sectors operate and help young people make better informed career decisions.

"The government has embarked on a very ambitious plan to roll out this programme in a short space of time. If it is to be successful, the diploma system must be properly promoted to students, parents, universities and employers. Business must play its part by providing high quality work experience which enables students to develop and apply the skills they've learnt in the classroom."

Mr Lambert added: "The proof of the pudding is always in the eating. In this case, diplomas must meet three key tests. First, they need to give more young people the literacy and numeracy skills needed for the modern world; second, they must be seen as a valid and worthwhile alternative to GCSEs and A levels for our brightest children; and third, they must attract young people who are currently turning their backs on the education system.

"The government must not prejudge the outcome of this review. GCSEs and A levels are respected and understood by employers and business would be wary of replacing them without strong evidence that diplomas are delivering the literacy and numeracy improvements promised by ministers. Diplomas will improve the education system provided everyone - parents, pupils, employers and educators - understands and supports them."

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