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The 14-19 white paper and Skills for Life

Key Documents
Skills for Life Network

A summary of the Government’s response to the review of 14-19 education, with a focus on the implications for literacy, numeracy and ICT

The proposals are the government’s response to the ideas put forward by the working party on 14-19 education chaired by the former chief inspector of England’s schools Sir Mike Tomlinson. The review proposed a single diploma across academic and vocational studies.

The White Paper proposals for reform include:

  • Rationalising the 3,500 vocational qualifications currently in favour of 14 specialised diplomas
  • All diplomas to include study in functional Maths and English
  • A new general (GCSE) Diploma to be awarded to those that achieve 5 A*-C GCSEs that include English and Maths

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said the first four specialised diplomas would be available in every area by 2008: in information and communication technology, engineering, health and social care and creative and media studies. Four more subjects would follow in 2010, with all 14 available by 2015. They would be designed in close collaboration with employers in the form of the sector skills councils – and, at the higher level, with universities.

The Common Core to all programmes and diplomas will comprise elements including:

  • functional mathematics
  • functional literacy and communication
  • functional ICT

Functional mathematics, literacy and communication and ICT
The report recommends that QCA works with all stakeholders, to develop core components in functional mathematics, functional literacy and functional ICT which:

  • are based on common requirements for informed citizens, effective learners and a wide range of workplaces
  • build upon the recommendations for mathematics set out in the Smith report
  • are available at all levels within the diploma framework, from entry to advanced

English, mathematics and ICT in main learning
Extended, transition and supplementary components of English, mathematics and ICT learning are to be made available alongside functional components

Meeting the needs of different learners – entry programmes and diplomas
Entry programmes and diplomas should provide and recognise options relevant to learner’s particular needs in employment, later learning and adult life

Meeting the needs of different learners – foundation and intermediate level
Components and programmes should be developed that recognise the needs of learners for whom foundation level would be a significant achievement. These must stand in their own right as effective preparation for employment and adult life for those who are not yet capable of progressing further in learning.

Assessing functional mathematics, literacy and communication and ICT
Assessment should be:

  • externally set, marked and moderated
  • subsumed within assessment of another subject, or otherwise not place additional burden on learners
  • available to take as and when a young person is ready

Further Information

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