About the Diploma

There’s a new qualification for 14-19 year olds called the Diploma. It’s been introduced by the government and is designed to give students the essential skills they need for success at work, college and university. The Diploma has also been designed to broaden your child’s learning and give them more informed choices about their future.

But the Diploma isn’t just another exam. Getting the Diploma involves interesting and stimulating hands-on learning which is relevant to work, valued by employers and recognised by Higher Education.

The Diploma programme offers a flexible and varied range of subjects to choose from, such as Business, Administration and Finance, Creative and Media, Manufacturing and Product Design and Hair and Beauty Studies. And it’s been developed so that all young people can choose a course that suits their interests and learning styles – so they’re likely to stay on in education for longer and achieve more.

What about GCSEs and A levels?

The Diploma doesn’t replace GCSEs or A levels but compliments them and adds to your child’s education. Each Diploma usually takes two years to complete and it provides students with valuable academic and practical skills in the subject of their choice, but also ensures that they have good English, maths and computing (ICT) skills too.

Any child can take the Diploma

The aim of the Diploma is to help students prepare for their future regardless of whether they choose to go to college or university or pursue a career. Young people, parents, 5,000 employers and education professionals were involved in researching the Diploma and their views helped to develop a programme that offers a fully-rounded education for all students, regardless of ability and learning styles.

What subjects does the Diploma cover?

All Diplomas contain three key components:
– Principal learning – developing knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to the chosen Diploma subject.
– Generic learning – including functional skills in English, maths and ICT.
– Additional and specialist learning – the opportunity to study a particular topic in more depth or broaden studies through complementary learning.

As well as the three components above each Diploma shares the same set of six personal, learning and thinking skills:

  • Creative thinking
  • Reflective learning
  • Independent inquiry
  • Team working
  • Effective participation
  • Self-management

How the Diploma is broken up

The Diploma can be studied at three different levels: Foundation, Higher, and Advanced

– Foundation (level 1) is the same as five GCSEs at grades D to G – Higher (level 2) is the same as seven GCSEs at grades A* to C
– Advanced (level 3) is the same as three and a half A levels

Once each student has successfully completed the Diploma they’ll be awarded a Diploma certificate. The certificate will list all the qualifications they’ve gained, showing specific academic achievements and work-relevant experience, which will be useful information for prospective employers or college and university.

University entrance with the Diploma

The Diploma is great news if your child wants to go to university. All UK universities have agreed that a student with an Advanced Diploma can enrol on 80 per cent of their undergraduate degree courses, as long as the subjects of the Diploma relate to the degree course and the right grade is obtained. But just as with other qualifications, your son or daughter will need to make sure that they choose the Diploma that meets the particular entry requirements for the degree courses they are interested in. They might also need to take an A level for their additional and specialist learning.

When do the Diplomas start and what courses are available?

10 Diploma subjects are now available. These are:

  • Business, Administration and Finance
  • Construction and the Built Environment
  • Creative and Media
  • Engineering
    Environmental and Land-based studies
  • Hair and Beauty Studies
  • Hospitality
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing and Product Design
  • Society, Health and Development

The Diploma isn’t available in every school or college yet but your child’s teacher, Connexions or careers adviser will be able to tell you which subjects are available in your area. By September 2011 seven new subjects will be added to the ten subjects above.

What are benefits of the Diploma?

The Diploma offers a fully-rounded education through a variety of subjects. It offers a huge range of work-relevant, study and life skills but with flexible learning through project work and work experience. Students get practical experience as well as traditional classroom-based teaching.

Students doing the Diploma gain first-hand knowledge of an area of work they might be interested in, such as product design, while also gaining academic qualifications.

There are also ‘functional skills’, such as English and maths – essential for a successful future.

In short, the Diploma means students, whatever their abilities and aspirations, get a good academic grounding and a broad range of skills that relate to real life and help them keep their future options open – whether that’s an apprenticeship, further education or a career

Want to know more about the Diploma?

What work experience is available with the Diploma?

More information for parents about the Diploma

What subjects can be studied with the Diploma?

Diploma Q & A 

Options for 14-19 year olds