Thursday, 17 April 2008
The difficulties with Diplomas
Jerry Jarvis, the boss of the Edexcel exam board, will surely be persona non grata at the DCSF for some time to come. His suggestion that Diplomas - which his exam board is charged with introducing - are in disarray will not endear him to ministers or officials who are convinced that Diplomas are on track for their introduction in the autumn. And there are certainly signs that more local authorities - and the schools and colleges within them - have signed up to the idea. Of course, there will be teething problems as Jarvis suggests: there are bound to be with any new qualification. That's why the government set a modest 40,000 target for the first year, and is staging their introduction. It can't help logistically that the QCA is moving north and reforms to A levels and GCSEs are happening at the same time. But as this blog has argued previously, the real problem with Diplomas is more fundamental. It is a lack of clarity about what they are for, at whom they are aimed and the differences between different subjects. Parents are confused about them, and those who have to deliver them fear that even the Government's modest target will be difficult to achieve. Until the Government is clearer with parents and students about these issues, it could have a hard task selling them even when Jarvis's teething problems are sorted out.