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22 Tomlinson Report summary
22 Tomlinson Report summary
A working group chaired by Mike Tomlinson (former Chief Inspector of
Schools) was charged by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills
to consider reforms to learning for 14-19 years olds and in particular:
- improving the structure and context of full-time vocational education
- more appropriate assessment arrangements for 14-19 year olds
- creating unified framework of qualifications.
An interim report was submitted on 16th February 2004 (and is available
in summary form on www.14-19reform.gov.uk.
The working group recommended:
- a unified (but not uniform) framework for diplomas catering for
individual student needs and activities which will be simplified and
recognisable to employers which will match skills, knowledge and training
(a) basic skills (a compulsory core)
(b) high status vocational programmes
It is suggested that all formal learning (including modern apprenticeships)
will be integrated into this single scheme.
The core (which will form the smaller part) will comprise:-
- maths, communication (inc. literacy), ICT
- an extended project
- personal planning, etc., and skills development, etc.
- wider activities including employment and community experience.
Experience gained outside formal learning will also be taken into account
(such as Duke of Edinburgh Awards).
The "main" learning (the bulk of a diploma) will
- be specific subject-based
- enable progression to specific occupations, HE and further learning
- permit choice "to enable young people to select programmes
to pursue their own interest with any specialist areas of study"
Pre-16 learners will continue to follow the National Curriculum and
in doing so, may well be able to gain recognition towards a diploma,
but this will not relate to a specific occupational area.
Post-16 learners will be able to opt for:
(a) a specialised diploma route (academic or vocational),
(b) an open diploma route (mixed subjects)
Many components for new diplomas will grow out of GCSEs and AS/A levels,
BTECs, etc. It will replace these in name, but much of the content will
remain the same.
Four levels of diploma are recommended:
Entry level - will probably target pupils with special needs
Foundation - approximately equivalent to GCSEs (lower grades)
Intermediate - in part equivalent to GCSEs and AS
Advanced - approximately equivalent to A levels
The credit-based structure will allow clear progression to be made
from the age of 14, whether pursued at school, college or workplace.
Age-related exams would go and be replaced by a comprehensive stage-related
Each diploma stage will include a single extended research-based piece
of work (dissertation) which will include an oral presentation. This
will be particularly helpful in identifying high flyers.
Tomlinson has insisted upon a ten-year implementation timetable to
enable this radical new system to bed down properly.
Whereas Tomlinson claims to offer choice, delivery will be via a rationalised
and smaller number of routes. Similarly while reducing the assessment
burden, it will offer more information about an individual's achievements
to those considering candidates.
Although the summary does refer to the need to provide for a knowledge-based
economy and to ensure that assessment is fit for purpose, the emphasis
is more on streamlining the system and student choice.
It is logical that GNVQs will be subsumed into the new system but no
reference is made to GNVQs in the summary document.
The Government's formal response is now awaited.