11 March 2013

Practical Skills Improved with New Diplomas

New Diplomas: Pupils More Chance to Improve their Practical Skills

With the new curriculum - courtesy of education secretary, Michael Gove – we’re also starting to see the rise of diplomas; vocational qualifications that are hoping to challenge GCSEs and A-levels as reliable awards.

Why The New Diplomas?

The government’s aim is to move away from the textbooks to the more transferable skills that can prepare pupils for the working world. Although traditional subjects are still concrete, teachers are now encouraged to use up a lot of the school week by developing ‘personal learning and thinking skills,’ such as self-management and independent inquiry – everything the coalition would like to see from business-savvy children. 

Do Diplomas Offer Up Opportunities for School Excursions?

In theory, this move towards practical learning could herald the beginning of outdoor trips for students. Teachers should have the time and support to be more adventurous with schooling. This includes expanding language learning to Mandarin and Urdu (the languages of countries set to be economic superpowers in the future). Other classes have been proposed, such as financial literacy and cooking.

It’s thought that financial students could be put to the test by helping to organize the school trips, using their business skills.

Teachers agree that there are more open opportunities to utilize outdoor learning, but the pressure of academic results will pose too great a threat to school trips. With a strict curriculum to meet, students can’t be allowed to miss a single day inside the classroom, for fear that the school’s league table position will drop. The emphasis is entirely on exams, not learning.

Many of these diplomas incorporate school trips in their curriculum; the first five diplomas to hit the scene were engineering, construction, information technology, creative and media studies, and society, health and development.  

Collaborating with local businesses will help children gain the skills they need to achieve employment after their studies. To achieve the diploma, you must have gained two weeks of work experience. Working in companies, students will develop social skills, presentation, and team work.

Students may even be encouraged to find their own work experience, linked to a career they want to pursue in the future. 

The Fear Of Litigation

Although the diploma ostensibly opens up further opportunities for outdoor education, that doesn’t mean the same old barriers stand in a teacher’s way. Not only are school trips time-consuming, but they’re a red tape nightmare, and many teachers are going above and beyond the call of duty, just to provide a rounded education for their students.

Also, in a claims-happy world, some parents are ready to sue teachers if their kids so much as scrape their knee on a school trip. Whenever a teacher starts organizing outdoor education, no matter how many long hours he or she plans, there’s no way of guaranteeing that an accident won’t happen. Although these instances are few and far between, an increase in school trips invariably means increased vulnerability for teachers.

This post has been composed for Knowsley Safari Park, a memorable and educational choice for UK school trips.

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