Your Council creating new earning opportunities for you
The times they are a changin'
GCSEs and A levels are being replaced by a new diploma system which is linked more closely to the world of work
Charlie Harrison and Tammarind Krook are just two of more than 3,000 Hull pupils who started in year 10 last month.
It's arguably one of the most important years at school as pupils begin working towards GCSEs, which ultimately can affect their careers and their futures.
But GCSEs could soon be a thing of the past for many pupils, in a change which is considered to be the biggest reform to the qualification system in a generation.
By 2013 it's estimated that around 30 per cent of year 10 pupils will begin preparing for their future careers by studying for a 'Diploma' instead of GCSE's or A levels.
In fact Charlie and Tammarind are among 70 pupils in Year 10 who have this year already started studying for the first-ever diploma to be offered in Hull Schools – in Information Technology (IT).
What are diplomas?
Each diploma will be equivalent to up to seven grades A* to C at GCSEs (and possibly up to 3.5 A levels if pupils chose to continue studying their diplomas at the advanced stages in the sixth form).
Diplomas will be offered in 10 different subjects from next year, including construction and the built environment, creative and media, engineering, health and development, and hair and beauty studies.
With an emphasis on learning through practical activities, and in lots of different environments rather than just classrooms, the diplomas are designed to help pupils develop skills such as team working, creative thinking, meeting deadlines and problem solving.
"These are qualities which matter in the world of work and which employers and universities really value," says Geoff Dobbs, from Hull City Council's School Standards and Achievement Service.
"Teaching and learning of certain subjects in the past has resulted in pupils merely learning information in order to pass exams.
"But when studying for the diplomas, pupils are required to motivate themselves and to become independent learners by completing projects and solving problems related to the workplace."
The IT Diploma
Whether in entertainment, education or healthcare, it's a fact that around 70 per cent of jobs now require some use of computers or other data handling devices.
And more than 20 local employers will be involved in delivering the IT Diploma by offering short placements to pupils.
The employers will also give talks during the course, set tasks for pupils to solve, help pupils with interviewing techniques and provide mentoring support.
The 70 pupils studying for the IT Diploma attend secondary schools across Hull.
They come together for one-and-a-half days a week at the City Learning Centres (CLCs) at Sir Henry Cooper School (for west Hull schools) and Archbishop Sentamu Academy (for east Hull schools).
"It's a different way of learning and it's quite exciting to be away from normal school and all your old teachers," says Tammarind, who attends Newland School for Girls.
She and Charlie were part of a group making a 45-second film on what's good about Hull as part of the diploma's section on media, which requires pupils to use IT equipment to edit footage.
Other projects require pupils to use problem-solving techniques to design, create and test a simple IT system for a business – such as a customer database, for instance.
They must also create a mini-network of computers that mimics the networks of big organisations.
"I think IT will help me get a job when I'm older," said Charlie, who attends Endeavour High School.
"I don't know what I want to do yet but I know there are loads of jobs which need IT."
- Pupils are still required to study the key subjects including English, Maths, Science and PE.
- Courses are taught not just by teachers, but by experts with backgrounds in business and industry (and in the case of the IT Diploma, from Hull Business School and work-based training providers such as ITEC and YH Training).
- By 2011, diplomas will be offered in 17 subjects including business administration and finance, environmental and land-based studies, hospitality, information technology, manufacturing and product design.
Pupils can learn more at the Diploma Roadshow on November 18 at the KC Stadium, between 9am - 4pm, and parents and carers can attend the event immediately afterwards between 4.30 and 6.30pm.
In particular, the roadshow is focused on supporting pupils in Year 9 as they make their choices for the academic year starting September 2009.
If you would like to attend please contact Gillian Hughes on 300300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org For more information visit www.direct.gov.uk/diplomas