National Evaluation of Diplomas: Preparation for 2009 delivery

Gill Featherstone, Pauline Wade, Sarah Golden, Tami McCrone, Kelly Evans, Sarah Lynch, Gill Haynes

25 March 2010

Research report available to download from DFE

Research brief available to download from DFE

The introduction of the Diplomas for 14-19 year olds is a central part of the government’s reform of 14-19 education and represents a major innovation in educational opportunity for young people in England. The Diplomas are delivered by a consortium which includes schools, colleges, training providers, employers and higher education institutions (HEIs). They will be offered at three levels and across 17 lines of learning which are being implemented in four phases (from September 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011). The first five lines of learning started in 2008 (Gateway 1) were: Construction and the Built Environment; Engineering; Information Technology; Creative and Media; and Society, Health and Development. The second five lines of learning delivered from September 2009 (Gateway 2) were: Business, Administration and Finance; Hair and Beauty Studies; Hospitality; Environmental and Land-based Studies and Manufacturing and Product Design.

In January 2008, 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. This summary focuses on the findings of the research into the experience of preparation for implementation and delivery of Diplomas in the first ten lines of learning from September 2009. It presents the findings from baseline case-study visits (conducted between February and May 2009) to 15 of the consortia delivering from September 2009. Six of these consortia already had experience of planning for Diploma delivery from September 2008 but the remaining nine were engaged in planning for delivery of these new qualifications for the first time.

The national evaluation of diplomas

Key Findings

  • Consortia felt that they would be ready to deliver lines of learning approved to commence in September 2009, which was largely due to having ensured that they had involved staff with skills, expertise and enthusiasm for Diplomas and their specialist subject. Nevertheless, consortia managers predicted that take-up of Diplomas for September 2009 would be lower than was originally anticipated.
  • There was some evidence of a broader additional and specialist learning offer than had been the case for delivery commencing in 2008.
  • On the whole training and support provided were received more positively by staff in the consortia visited in 2009 than had been the case among those visited in 2008.
  • The majority of consortia had put in place a consortium-wide strategy for Diploma-related Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG), but it was not necessarily adopted by all institutions and there was scope for more consistent IAG to be provided within the consortium.

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