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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 18:07 GMT
School plans sixth form diplomas
One of England's top private schools is to start awarding diploma-like "certificates of achievement" in 2007.

Dulwich College in south-east London is adapting ideas from the Tomlinson report on 14 to 19 learning.

It has already introduced a 3,000-word essay for sixth formers, alongside A-levels, to develop the sort of study skills they will need at university.

The master, Graham Able, said the boys' school was not abandoning existing qualifications but adding to them.


He said the certificate stemmed from a philosophical review of what pupils were expected to gain from their time there.

It would record mainly extra-curricular activities, though with some elements from timetabled lessons such as citizenship and personal and social education.

At one level it would serve as a statement to the boys of what they should be aiming to achieve.

But it was also "an embryonic CV" that would be of interest to employers who wanted evidence of the kind of "real world" skills they needed, and to universities.

Research skills

The extended essay was one of the proposals from Sir Mike Tomlinson which the government adopted, while rejecting his main argument for subsuming all existing qualifications into a new diploma.

Its White Paper said: "The projects that students complete will differ by subject, but all will require persistence over time and research skills to explore a subject independently in real depth."

It has asked the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to develop the idea.

But Dulwich has already run its own pilot scheme.

Mr Able said the pilot showed that when even some quite bright boys spent time developing ideas they were interested in, they did not have the necessary research skills.

So more effort is being devoted to developing those and the essay has been made compulsory.

He felt it was something most good schools - private or state-maintained - would be able to fit in.

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