Exam boss warns of ‘flaws’ in flagship diploma scheme

A leading examiner has claimed thousands could be left with “worthless” qualifications unless flaws in the government’s diploma course are eradicated.

The diplomas, set for introduction this September, are seen by the government as the first step on the road to replacing GCSEs and A-Levels with a more useful combination of practical skills and theoretical knowledge.

But according to Jerry Jarvis, head of the Edexcel examination board, insufficient teacher training ahead of the scheme’s introduction and confusion about teaching methods for the ‘practical’ elements of the diploma means the strategy “risks failure”.

“We think it’s going to be quite traumatic to get through this. The issue is about schools being able to cope,” he told the Guardian newspaper.

“If the diploma doesn’t earn its spurs as a qualification, and that means respect from employers, pupils, parents and higher education, we face a serious problem.

“There is a huge educational risk to this country.”

Mr Jarvis claims no decisions have been made regarding the teaching of ‘practical’ elements of the course, such as calculating a mortage, while teachers will have only received three days’ training for the diploma before its September launch.

He also says that due to the broadness of the diploma, and the stipulation that students pass all elements of the course, some could be left with no overall qualifications should they fail a component in which they have a particular weakness.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families commented: “This is an absurd misrepresentation of the truth. As Edexcel has made clear, it is fully behind the diploma.

“There are details to address with any new programme but to suggest diplomas are in ‘disarray’ or ‘worthless’ is complete and utter nonsense.”