National Evaluation of Diplomas: Preparation for 2008 Delivery

Gill Featherstone , Pauline Wade , Sarah Golden , Lisa O'Donnell , Maha Shuayb , Sarah Lynch , Gill Haynes

01 January 2009

Research report available to download from DFE

Research brief available to download from DFE

In January 2008, the DCSF commissioned the NFER and the University of Exeter to conduct the national evaluation of the implementation and impact of Diplomas over the period 2008-2013. It is important to note that this Research Brief focuses on the findings of the first stage of the evaluation which explored the planning and preparation for Diplomas prior to their introduction in September 2008. It presents findings from a telephone survey of 136 consortium leads (conducted in February 2008), baseline case-study visits to a sample of 15 consortia, and a survey of Year 9 and Year 11 learners in 30 consortia (carried out between April and July 2008).

The national evaluation of diplomas

Key Findings

  • The new Diploma qualification was welcomed overall, particularly for the varied learning experience and transferable skills learners would gain. Consortia felt that they would be prepared for Diploma delivery by September 2008. Additional support was required for some staff, particularly in relation to: functional skills; understanding the combinations of additional and specialist learning; assessment; and employer engagement.
  • Consortia had established appropriate management structures to deliver the Diplomas. The factors that contributed to effective consortia included: pre-existing partnerships; strong leadership from the consortium leads; and involvement of staff with relevant experience, authority, and dedicated time to coordinate implementation.
  • The Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) for young people, and for parents and staff who play a key role in advising young people, varied across and within consortia. The majority of learners did not recall receiving key information about Diplomas and it was evident that some were basing their decision on whether to take a Diploma or not on a limited and sometimes inaccurate understanding of the qualification.
  • The take-up of Diplomas was lower than expected (particularly at Levels 1 and 3). The evidence suggests that there is scope for greater take-up as more lines become available, the qualification becomes more established, and awareness and understanding increases.
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