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Diplomas fail on core skills and stereotyping

New diploma qualifications are ineffective at teaching students the core skills of maths, IT and english, government education regulator Ofsted said this week.

The diplomas have also failed to break gender stereotypes around subjects studies since they were introduced in 2008, said a report published by the regulator.

Ofwat chief inspector Christine Gilbert, said: “Inspectors found a mixed picture but the introduction of the diploma programmes is still at a relatively early stage.”

Varying quality of teaching

Ofwat inspected consortia comprising schools which run diploma courses and employers supplying placements for students.

“Almost half the consortia visited had not established an effective, coordinated approach to teaching functional skills and, as a result, the quality of teaching and learning varied considerably,” said Gilbert.

Five diploma subjects were introduced to replace GCSEs and A-Levels. The diplomas cover construction, engineering, media, IT, and society & health. Lessons are supplemented with work placements.

Three thousand and fify four students have taken the construction diploma and a further 4,232 took the engineering course.

“Almost half the consortia visited had not established an effective, coordinated approach to teaching functional skills.”

Christine Gilbert, Ofwat

Ofwat said the quality of practical work on the construction diploma courses was high and that teachers were enthusiastic. But it said courses were poorly planned. It said students enjoyed the practical work, but were less keen on theoretical tasks.

The engineering course was found to be well resourced and taught by experienced teachers. But the report said that course work should be linked more explicitly to practical skills.

Neither course was effective in attracting girls − in construction the proportion was “very low” and in engineering was just 3%.

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