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Employers and pupils confused by ‘alphabet soup’ of qualifications


For Croner Publications Ltd, Education News Online, August 2008

At the conference of education union, Voice, teachers have warned that both pupils and employers are increasingly baffled by the range of qualifications on offer, and what they all mean.

Simon Smith, a teacher from Essex, said an employer had told him that employing a young school leaver was like “a gamble”, and that employers were losing touch with what the different qualifications actually meant or were worth.

From September, some schools will be offering a new Diploma in five subjects – construction, IT, engineering, media and health. This new qualification will sit alongside the existing GCSEs, A levels, AS levels, BTecs, NVQs, apprenticeships and the Pre-U and IB.

A government spokesperson from the Department for Children, Schools and Families said that it wanted to see an end to the “alphabet soup” of qualifications, adding that the Government’s qualifications strategy looks to “simplify qualifications for 14 to 19 year olds”.

He added, “We have already made clear that in the future we expect there to be four key national qualifications suites and frameworks on offer – these are GCSEs and A levels; Diplomas; apprenticeships; and the Foundation Learning Tier, which consists of courses that cover the basics”.

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