So far the charges against them are that they are too expensive, too complex, too academic, poorly understood by parents, teachers and careers advisors, poorly marketed and ignored by the independent sector and largely too by elite universities.
What more can go wrong?
Well quite a lot actually. First off, this week an advertisement by the government that claims the new diploma qualification “can get you into any university” has been branded untruthful by the advertising watchdog.
The ASA noted that a small number of universities, including Cambridge, would not accept all the diploma subjects offered when choosing students. This was at odds with the implied message that all diplomas represented a level of academic qualification that would be accepted by all universities. Second off, a just published Association of Colleges Further Education survey completed by 133 Colleges talks of big challenges facing the new Diploma .To be fair it starts with some positives .Colleges are supportive, and remain committed to the delivery of Diplomas ,with respondents planning to double their student numbers between 2009 and 2010 and 83% of staff teaching Diplomas are positive about them as are most students But, and it’s a big but, they face ‘challenges’, a favorite euphemism that accompanies any account of the Diplomas roll out. The survey found that the complexities of delivery arrangements are particularly challenging and bureaucratic for Colleges that recruit students living in different catchment areas. It also found that Teaching the Diploma in one year as a catch-up programme for students with disappointing GCSE results is proving too challenging for many students. So the Higher (level 2) Diploma, which is more usually delivered in two years alongside GCSEs, has proven to be challenging for these young people who have found it difficult to achieve all the elements required in one year. Also the recent decision to remove functional skills from GCSEs (but not from Diplomas) means that there is now inequity between qualifications. There is a perceived risk that students may fail to achieve them at the specified level, which means they cannot complete the Diploma. The cost of delivering Diplomas is also a worry with pupils having to be bussed to different locations to be taught the different Diplomas.
The survey found that those Colleges currently subsidising the delivery of Diplomas are unlikely to be able to sustain this in the long term. So what happens then? These cost implications are deeply worrying against the backdrop of shortages in public funding and the on-going Recession.
This survey seeks to put a positive spin on the current situation but there are too many ‘challenges’ for this to be entirely convincing. AOC Release