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New diplomas give students more choice in Medway

Date: 27/03/2008           Category: Learning and Achievement

Medway’s budding Bill Gates, Karen Millen’s, Isambard Kingdom Brunels and Martha Lane Fox’s will be among the first in the country to be taught the government’s new flagship diplomas for 14 to 19-year-olds. The Department for Children, Schools and Families has given Medway Council the green light to offer four diplomas from September 2008 and eight from September 2009. The subjects being taught in the first year are Creative and Media; Engineering; Information Technology (IT); and Society, Health and Development. In the second year they are joined by business administration and finance; construction and the built environment; environmental and land-based studies; and hospitality. Only one other authority in the south east has been granted permission to teach this many diplomas, Eastbourne and Hailsham in East Sussex. The diplomas will be available at Medway’s secondary schools, Mid Kent College, Hadlow College, and Universities at Medway. By 2013, students will be able to choose from a total of 17 specialised subjects. All diplomas will involve functional skills in English, maths and IT, to ensure that students are competent in the basics. All subjects will be linked to industries and will provide students with hands-on practical experience from relevant sectors linked to their qualification. Hotel chain Holiday Inn, Lloyds TSB and BAE Systems have all pledged their support to the new qualifications by offering students work experience during their studies. Schools and colleges will offer the diplomas alongside GCSEs and A-levels as part of the drive to encourage more people to stay in education and training, and to fill the local skills gaps. There will be three levels of diploma: Foundation is equivalent to five GCSE passes and Higher is equivalent to seven GCSE passes at grade A* to C. Advanced is equivalent to three-and-a half A-levels and will be accepted by universities and colleges, as well as allowing students to go directly into work. Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services Cllr Les Wicks said: “I’m glad Medway has been given the go-ahead for the second group of vocational diplomas. “I’ve long been an advocate for offering secondary pupils practical courses which will give them a greater sense of achievement and attract them into school. “We must make sure the diploma is a really good alternative to what’s currently being offered. I look forward to seeing the results from the first students who take these.” Director of Children’s Services Rose Collinson said: “The new diplomas offer an increasing range of subjects which are presented in ways to meet the needs of students with different learning styles. This will help a wide variety of young people to learn in the ways that suit them best. The diplomas will equip them equally well for further study or employment with training. In this way, their introduction will not only allow more young people to achieve success, but also support the growth of Medway’s local economy. They’re good news for young people, and good news for business, enterprise and universities.” Visit www.yourchoiceinmedway.org.uk for more details.