Specialised Diplomas

Specialised Diplomas

This report considers the introduction of the new specialised diploma which sees a radical change to 14-19 education. The information in this report has been gained from variety of sources including government white papers, briefing documents published by organisations such as OCR and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority as well as the views of the Trades Unions Congress and Universities UK

The background

The Tomlinson Working Group on reform of the 14-19 curriculum published its   report on 18th October 2004. The government had established the Tomlinson Group in March 2003 in order to critically consider education and training for the 14-19 age group and where appropriate, make recommendations for improvement. The groups were established as a response to the A' Level grading fiasco of 2002, which led to the resignation of the Estelle Morris the then Secretary of State for Education, when confidence in the system was undermined by the downgrading of many results. The Group was led by Sir Mike Tomlinson a former head of OFSTED.

The working group established five major issues facing the 14-19 sector:

  1.   A lack of faith in standards where parents, employers and universities were confused about value of A-levels caused by "grade inflation”.
  2. Too many courses on offer and students sitting too many exams.
  3. Students leaving the system with a   lack of basic literacy and numeracy skills.
  4. The drop-out rate post-16 was too high: 24 per cent of students leave school.
  5. Vocational education was undervalued.

The key recommendations of the Tomlinson report were as follows:

  1. Phasing out GCSEs and A-levels over ten years.
  2. Replacing them with a two-tier, four-part diploma system, awarded at age 18.
  3. Diploma grades are limited to pass, merit, distinction. Within subject areas identified as "specialist", upper grades will be split into A, A+ and A++.
  4. Making teacher assessment a...