New qualifications to be taught in North Somerset schools

A NEW qualification which could replace A-Levels and GCSEs will be taught at schools across North Somerset from September.

A NEW qualification which could replace A-Levels and GCSEs will be taught at schools across North Somerset from September.

The district is one of the first places across the country to offer diplomas for 14 to 19 year olds.

Nailsea School, Clevedon Community School, Backwell School, Gordano School in Portishead, Ravenswood Special School in Nailsea and St Katherine's School in Pill have all been chosen to teach the new courses.

The qualifications have been described as one of the most exciting developments in secondary education for decades and Secretary of State for the Department of Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, says it will become the 'qualification of choice' for all young people.


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GCSE and A-Levels can be taken as part of a diploma and alongside it and a total of 14 schools and colleges in the district will be offering students the opportunity to study either creative and media or information technology as part of the new scheme.

North Somerset councillors=, Jeremy Blatchford, executive member for Children and Young People's Services, said: "All careers today demand breadth of knowledge, ability to understand and to learn new skills.

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"Diplomas are not changes for the sake of change, but an essential way forward which North Somerset Council is pleased to participate in."

The diploma has been created to bridge the divide between academic and vocational options by combining theoretical study with practical experiences and is being piloted this year in 148 areas across the country.

Other educational establishments will begin teaching them next year and by 2011 there will be 17 diploma subject areas.

Diplomas will be offered in three tiers. A foundation diploma will be equivalent to five GCSE grades D to G, a higher diploma will be equivalent to seven GCSEs grades A* to C and an advanced diploma will be the same as 3.5 A-Levels.

An advanced diploma can lead to university of on to a career. Anyone interested in finding out more can visit www.direct.gov.uk/diplomasandyourchild

Tell us what you think by writing in to the Mailbox at the Times, 32 Waterloo Street, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1LW.

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