The New Advanced Diplomas: What they Mean for HE in Curriculum Terms. Pam Calabro, Network Officer, Linking London

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1 The New Advanced Diplomas: What they Mean for HE in Curriculum Terms Pam Calabro, Network Officer, Linking London

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3 CONTENTS Introduction 2 How the Diploma is structured 3 Advanced Diploma: Principal Learning 3 Advanced Diploma: Generic Learning 3 Advanced Diploma: Additional & Specialist Learning 3 The Progression Diploma 7 Teaching and Learning Issues 7 What s different about teaching & learning? a Assessment 7 What this all means for HEIs 8 Further reading & support 8 Appendices APPENDIX 1: Level / Grade Equivalences 10 APPENDIX 2: Sample Principal Learning Units APPENDIX 3: Personal, Learning & Thinking Skills APPENDIX 4: Advanced UCAS Tariff 13 APPENDIX 5: Bespoke Diploma Training / Consultancy for Linking London Partners 14 1

4 Introduction Although reference to the new Diplomas is now widespread in the educational press, unless you are a practitioner, it is unlikely that you will know that much about them in curriculum terms. This short guide, developed as part of Linking London s ongoing commitment to supporting partners, aims to provide an overview of the qualification s main components, as well as to assess, in fairly broad terms, the sort of learner its holders will come to represent, and what this means in terms of issues for progression to HE. Essentially, the development of the Diplomas needs to be set against the background of a number of key drivers. For example, the government s decision to raise the participation age of learners from 16 to 17 by 2013 and 18 by 2015, in itself poses tremendous challenges for educators, in terms of curriculum design. Students will need to be motivated to continue in education and to see the relevance of their learning to their own needs and future plans. In general terms for year olds, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is clear that there is a need to provide all young people with opportunities that suit their needs and interests (Delivering Reforms: Next Steps, DCSF, 13 October p6) In the context of these and other recent changes, the introduction of the Diplomas from 2008 means that four potential qualification routes will be available to all learners aged 14 19: The traditional route i.e. GCSE / A levels The Diploma, a blend of general education and applied learning, which we will discuss in more detail shortly Apprenticeship (16 plus) Occupational route (16 plus) Employers have been heavily involved with the development of the Diplomas and their perception that the core skills of school leavers are in need of improvement, together with the findings of Lord Leitch, 2006 (Prosperity for all in the Global Economy: World Class Skills) means that skill development and work readiness have been designated key priorities. The new Diplomas are thus part of a national programme designed to encourage young people to continue learning for longer, by widening choice. Each is offered across a named line of learning, which links the qualification to a specific work sector. 17 Diploma lines are planned and will be phased in gradually to 2011, as follows: Information Technology; Engineering; Creative & Media; Construction & the Built Environment; Society, Health & Development; Sept Environmental & Land-based Studies; Manufacturing & Product Design; Hair & Beauty Studies; Hospitality; Business, Administration & Finance; Sept Public Services; Sport & Active Leisure; Retail Business; Travel & Tourism; Sept Humanities & Social Sciences Languages & International Communication Science (Foundation and Higher levels only). Sept Science (Advanced) According to the DCSF, 144 Consortia are currently delivering Diplomas and from September 2009, there will be 335 Consortia delivering up to 10 Diplomas. By 2013, all year olds will have an entitlement to the 17 Diplomas. (The Diploma: A Guide for FE, 2008 available at: type in Diplomas under search.) For details of current planning for Diploma provision across the Network region, please refer to the Linking London mapping document available at It is also worth noting that, from 2011, the Extended 2

5 The NewAdvanced Diplomas: What they Mean for HE in Curriculum Terms Diploma will be on offer. This contains extra Maths, English and ICT, plus extra Additional and Specialist Learning. How the Diploma is structured Each diploma, across whatever line, is structured in the same way and consists of 3 strands: Principal Learning Generic Learning Additional & Specialist Learning To be awarded the Diploma, all 3 strands have to be completed successfully. Each strand is designated a set amount of Guided Learning Hours (GLHs), which are specified according to level, over the two years. At Level 1: Foundation Diploma teaching is across 600 guided learning hours; at Level 2: Higher Diploma, across 800 hours, while at Level 3, Advanced Diploma, which is the main focus of our concern here, learning is across some 1080 GLHs. The Advanced Diploma is equivalent to 3.5 A Levels at grades A* - E and is broken down as follows (see Appendix 1 for GCSE / A Level equivalences for the other levels) Advanced Diploma: Principal Learning (540 GLHs) This strand represents the vocational subject learning necessary for progression in the chosen vocational sector, and learning is across named, mandatory units, as in GNVQ / BTEC qualifications. (See Appendix 2 for a list of sample units for the 2008 Diploma lines.) A distinct feature of learning here, however, is that 50% has to be applied i.e. carried out in a simulated / task-based environment. Advanced Diploma: Generic Learning (180GLHs) This strand is multi-faceted and encompasses 3 distinct components: Work Experience; Extended Project and PLTS (Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills). Work Experience All Advanced Diploma students are required to complete a minimum of 10 days work experience. Guidance to Centres is fairly general and there is no requirement, for example, for Centres to provide examination bodies with records of assessment. Guided learning hours are calculated on the basis of ten 8 hour working days and ten hours for preparation, reporting and evaluation i.e. 90 hours, in all. The placement does not need to be in a 10-day block but can be done in single-day or half daysessions over a period of time. Guidance from AQA links work experience to the Diploma subject line, desired progression route and Extended Project chosen by the student but this latter aspect, in particular, is not present in guidance from either OCR or Edexcel. AQA guidance also emphasises that p/t employment could also be used to contribute to this component of the Diploma. However, the emphasis by all, from QCA, is that the student develops sector-related knowledge and skills, again underlining the theme of work readiness which is such an integral part of the Diploma qualification. Extended Project (120 GLHs) The Extended project came on stream in September and is available as a stand-alone qualification for A Level students, as well as an integral part of the Diploma. It is weighted at 120 GLHs and represents about half the size of an A level. The primary aim of the Extended Project is to allow students the opportunity to engage in in-depth, autonomous learning within an area relevant to their 3

6 The NewAdvanced Diplomas: What they Mean for HE in Curriculum Terms vocational learning line and interests. Students are tested on their ability to plan, research, develop and review their project learning. This aspect of the Diploma has been specifically introduced as a response to HEI concerns that students are not prepared sufficiently for the demands of independent study at HE level. The nearest equivalent in curriculum terms at Level 3 to the Extended Project is the Extended Essay of the International Baccalaureate or the research project often offered as part of Access to HE qualifications. Current guidance from QCA indicates that the project does not need to be within the particular Learning Line sector context but that it should be relevant to the Principal Learning strand either in that it complements and develops themes and topics, or in that it supports progression. As designed currently, the Extended project has a number of key features: - 1. It is flexible. Guidance from QCA suggests that the Extended project could be a design; a report with findings from an investigation or study; a dissertation presenting an argument; an artefact; a performance. Edexcel firmly translate this into four student options: dissertation; investigation/field study; performance or Artefact, whereas the guidance from both AQA and OCR is broader. 2. Students are expected to choose and design their projects, with appropriate professional support. 3. The processes undertaken allow students, potentially, to develop a broad range of skills, including the Personal, Learning & Thinking Skills, which are discussed later in this section, as well as Functional / Key Skills. 4. Students have to present their project findings and analysis to an identified audience. 5. Well chosen projects have the potential to encourage student motivation and planning for progression and represent further scope within the Diploma for the personalisation of student learning. A fuller guide to the Extended Project has been prepared by Linking London and is available on Further guidance is also available from QCA, Edexcel and AQA (see Section 5 for web-site / contact details). Personal, Learning & Thinking Skills (60GLHs) Six skills are specified within this framework: independent enquiry creative thinking reflective learning teamwork self-management effective participation All Diplomas are expected to have opportunities for their development mapped within them. Although there is some parallel with the content of the wider QCA Key Skills, it is clear that this revised skill-set aims to develop skills essentially compatible with the demands of study in HE, particularly when linked to the Extended Project, and it is, potentially, important that course designers developing courses at University Year 1 (Level 4) are aware of them and so aware of the breadth of learner development that the Diplomas are designed to develop. (See Appendix 3 for a full breakdown of the six PLTS components.) NB: Functional skills in English, Maths and ICT are, additionally, demanded at Levels 1 and 2 and, from 2012, they will be integrated into assessment of GCSE Maths, English and ICT (Grades A* - C). Up to and including this date, it will be a requirement for all Diploma programmes to develop these skills and Diplomas at Levels 2 and 3 will only be awarded to 4

7 Alberto Burri Composition 1949.

8 The NewAdvanced Diplomas: What they Mean for HE in Curriculum Terms students who have obtained Level 2 Functional Skills. This means that student literacy among students applying for HE programmes should, conceivably, be enhanced. Advanced Diploma: Additional & Specialist Learning (360 GLHs) This strand of the Diploma offers the flexibility for learners to shape their own programme according to preference / planned progression. For example, they may wish to extend their subject knowledge by taking an AS / other specialist units or qualifications chosen from the Diploma catalogues. NB. It is worth noting that learners may exceed the GLHs for this strand by up to 50%, for an individual qualification listed within the Diploma catalogues. This part of the Diploma is one that will be attractive to learners and one where HE Admission staff may, also, wish to engage in dialogue with Diploma partners, when considering potential progression arrangements. At the moment, all components within the Diploma must be studied at the same or at a higher level than the overall Diploma. However, at the end of 2009, the DCSF has said that it will consider again the possibility of an element of lower level learning within ASL to support breadth of learning or learners studying a language for the first time. The DCSF has also asked QCA to look at how higher level options might be made available within the Diploma catalogue and QCA will report on this some time in At Consortium level this, obviously, opens up possibilities for linked HE study components and is an area in which course leaders may see scope to input, linked to the development of local lines. The Progression Diploma Some students will prefer to follow a smaller programme of study at Level 3 and the Progression Diploma has been designed with them in mind. For Progression Diploma students, there is no Additional & Specialist Learning component. Their Level 3 qualification is worth 2.5 A Level equivalent Grades A* - E and consists of a maximum 720 GLHs. Teaching and Learning Issues What s different about teaching & learning? All the support material coming out from DCSF and other agencies emphasises the dynamic nature of Diploma teaching The Diploma will be taught through a lively mix of classroom learning, practical projects, and individual review sessions, with students receiving input from teachers, college lecturers, local business people and industry practitioners. ( The Diploma: A Guide for FE, DCSF, 2008, p10) The emphasis on independent learning through the Extended Project, together with exposure to a range of teaching styles and business input means, in theory at least, that students applying for entry to HE will be better prepared for handling the demands of HE study. They will be used to researching information and managing assignments / projects. What may be lacking is exposure to wider subject content. This will need to be borne in mind by course teams in HE and argues the need for HEIs to be involved in, or at least be aware of, what feeder schools are developing as formal on course requirements. Diploma students will only be as prepared for HE as FECs, schools and HE make them. On the plus side, these students are likely to be particularly strong in aspects such as teamwork and problem solving. Assessment The other thing to remember about Diploma students is that they will not have to sit complete 6

9 qualification exams. Work from the Principal Learning and Extended Project components will be mainly internally assessed, and externally moderated by the awarding bodies, as currently happens with other Advanced (Level 3) qualifications, such as Applied GCE, BTEC and OCR Nationals, and C & G qualifications. (See Appendix 2 for the balance of external / internal assessment on sample Learning Line units). The Additional & Specialist Learning strand may require students to sit an exam e.g. an individual AS, and the specific content of this strand is likely to be moderated in a different way. Guidance here is still fairly limited but should become clearer as the first cohorts of learners go through. What this all means for HEIs Diplomas constitute the first new mainstream qualification for over a decade and every sign coming from government is that they are here to stay. Over 80% of HEIs / FECs listed by UCAS, including all the Russell Group and the 1994 group of Universities, have confirmed that they will consider applicants with a Level 3 Diploma. As yet, however, very little consensus is emerging as to the sort of entry requirements Diploma students will, typically, be expected to meet. UCAS tariff points for the Advanced Diploma are listed at Appendix 4 and show clearly how points are broken down over the 3 main strands of learning. The content of learning over the two strands, Generic Learning and Additional Student Learning will be widely varied, as the discussion in earlier sections has indicated and it is this diversity which, more than anything about the Diploma, represents a challenge to course teams / Admissions Tutors when making course offers. All Universities are expected to publish coursespecific entry requirements for revised A levels and Diplomas by May 2009, so there is quite a lot of ground to cover between now and then. As has been indicated earlier, too, these learners will be used to a high level of Applied Learning and, conceivably, may need additional help with more theoretical aspects of University learning, in the early stages of the course, at least. Conversely, course tutors may, also, decide to make course content more applied, to help meet these changing needs. As has been indicated earlier, the precise content of individual Diplomas is being decided by Consortium planning teams locally and it makes sense for HEIs to be involved, as far as is practically possible. The Extended Project, in particular, offers a useful mechanism to mediate Level 3 / 4 curriculum interface and specific concerns. Individual Linking London partners may wish to bid for funding to develop bespoke Progression Agreements for Diploma courses with feeder schools / colleges but, whatever the level of institutional interest or involvement here, every indication is that preparation for the onset of the first Advanced Diploma holders in 2010 is needed, particularly at course team level. Further reading & support A vast amount of guidance material is emerging from QCA and the three awarding bodies: - QCA: AQA (Assessment & Qualifications Alliance and City & Guilds): Edexcel (Edexcel Limited: OCR (Oxford, Cambridge & RSA Examinations): A useful starting point is the general information on the DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families) website (type in Diplomas under search ) - which provides Information Leaflets for HE across the first 5 Advanced Diploma lines. 7

10 Convent Garden London 2009

11 The NewAdvanced Diplomas: What they Mean for HE in Curriculum Terms The QCA Diploma Home page is - Guidance for Phases 1 and 2 from QCA may be found at individual line level at QCA are also developing detailed curriculum guidance for practitioners and is currently consulting on guidance for Phase 3 Diplomas i.e. Public Services, Retail Business, Sport & Active Leisure and Travel & Tourism. These latter materials are well worth reading for the contextualisation of curriculum aims within individual subject lines and are available at QIA (Quality Improvement Agency) are, currently, running a range of free, in-house training and consultancy for Gateway 2 Consortia see However, very little bespoke training / consultancy for HEIs appears to exist, as yet, and Linking London is, therefore, planning a series of in-house bespoke training to help partners. Details of what we can offer are listed at Appendix 5. If you are interested in following this up, please contact Daniel Inns at Linking London Tel: 0203 / Appendix 1: Level / Grade Equivalences Level 1 Foundation Diploma Equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades D G Level 2 Higher Diploma Equivalent to 7 GCSEs at grades A* - C Level 3 Progression Diploma Equivalent to 2 and a half A Levels at grades A* - E Level 3 Advanced Diploma Equivalent to 3.5 A Levels at grades A* - E Appendix 2: Sample Principal Learning Units 2008 Construction & The Built Environment Edexcel Level 3 Design the built environment: design factors;* (externally assessed) Design the built environment: stages in the design and planning; Design the built environment: physical and environmental influences; Create the built environment: health, safety and environmental influences; * (externally assessed) Create the built environment: management processes; Value and use the built environment: adding value to the wider community; Value and use the built environment: protecting and maintaining. * (externally assessed) Creative & Media AQA City & Guilds Level 3 Communicating creatively; Exploring professional creativity;* (externally assessed) Realising creativity;* (externally assessed) Creating opportunity; Working with a client; Realisation and review. Engineering OCR Level 3 Engineering businesses and the environment; Applications of computer aided designing; Selection and application of engineering materials; Instrumentation and control engineering; Maintaining engineering systems and products; Production and manufacturing; Innovative design and enterprise; Mathematical techniques and application for engineers; *(externally assessed) Scientific principles and applications for engineers;*(67% externally assessed) 9

12 The New Advanced Diplomas: What they Mean for HE in Curriculum Terms Information Technology Edexcel Level 3 The potential of technology; Understanding organisations; Professional development; Creating technology solutions; *(externally assessed) Multimedia and digital projects; Making projects successful; *(externally assessed) Managing technology systems. Society, Health & Development OCR Level 3 The society, health and development context;* (externally assessed) Principles and values in practice;* (externally assessed) Partnership working in society, health and development; Communication and information sharing in society, health and development; Personal and professional development in the work environment; Working to safeguard and protect individuals across the society, health and development sectors. Appendix 3 Personal, Learning & Thinking Skills Independent enquirers Identify questions to answer and problems to resolve Plan and carry out research, appreciating the consequences of decisions Explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives Analyse and evaluate information, judging its relevance and value Consider the influence of circumstances, beliefs and feelings on decisions and events Support conclusions, using reasoned arguments and evidence Creative thinkers Generate ideas and explore possibilities Ask questions to extend their thinking Connect their own and others ideas and experiences in inventive ways Question their own and others assumptions Try out alternatives or new solutions and follow ideas through Adapt ideas as circumstances change Reflective learners Assess themselves and others, identifying opportunities and achievements Set goals with success criteria for their development and work Review progress, acting on the outcomes Invite feedback and deal positively with praise, setback and criticism Evaluate experiences and learning to inform future progress Communicate their learning in relevant ways for different audiences Team workers Collaborate with others to work towards common goals Reach agreements, managing discussion to achieve results Adapt behaviour to suit different roles and situations Show fairness and consideration to others Take responsibility, showing confidence in themselves and their contribution Provide constructive support and feedback to others Self-managers Seek out challenges or new responsibilities and show flexibility when priorities change 10

13 UCAS POINTS GLHs Progression Diploma Advanced Diploma Principal Learning max 240 max Generic Learning max (Project) 60 max (Project) Additional & Specialist Learning max TOTAL 300 max* (2.5 A Levels) 420 max (3.5 A Levels) Appendix 4: Advanced UCAS Tariff Principal & Generic Learning * Grade A = 300 points Grade B = 250 points Grade C = 200 points Grade D = 150 points Grade E = 100 points Additional & Specialist Learning Points allocation relates to specific qualification taken Work towards goals, showing initiative, commitment and perseverance Organise time and resources, prioritising actions Anticipate, take and manage risks Deal with competing pressures, including personal and work-related demands Respond positively to change, seeking advice and support when needed Effective participators Discuss issues of concern, seeking resolution where needed Present a persuasive case for action Propose practical ways forward, breaking these down into manageable steps Identify improvements that would benefit others as well as themselves Try to influence others, negotiating and balancing diverse views to reach workable solutions Act as an advocate for views and beliefs that may differ from their own Funding to help you map your provision against the Diplomas and to provide clear entry requirements in the UCAS entry profiles and on your website / prospectus Staff development events aimed at sharing information and best practice Brokering links with local Diploma Consortia and schools and colleges that are delivering the Diploma A Diploma Readiness Check at institutional / course team level, so that you can check that you are doing all you need to do in order to prepare for the Diploma A visit from Linking London to give information on the Diploma to key members of staff (e.g. Admissions tutors) Appendix 5 Bespoke Diploma Training / Consultancy for Linking London Partners What we can offer 11

14 The New Advanced Diplomas: What they Mean for HE in Curriculum Terms The Linking London Lifelong Learning Network is a membership organisation of thirty four universities and colleges in Central, East and North London which aims to improve the progression of vocational learners into and through Higher Education. We are funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and are based at Birkbeck, University of London, 32 Tavistock Square, London, WC1 H9EZ. If you found this guidance document useful or would like to discuss our work in the area of vocational learning, please contact: or

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