Report slams DfES for lack of management focus and failure to appreciate complexity of new construction qualification

The new Construction Diploma is in danger of failure if it is not implemented properly, according to a government report.

The Education and Skills Committee report into the new Diplomas says that the government risks “serious negative effects on quality” if expansion of the scheme is not delivered at a measured pace.

It said: “It is absolutely essential that the first Diploma cohort is very limited in size, and that thereafter expansion takes place at a slow and controlled rate”

The report also expressed concern that the Diploma programme would focus on theoretical learning rather than the practical skills it is intended to teach.

It said: “There is a risk that the pressure over time will be to introduce more and more desk-based, theoretical material into practical, vocational curricula in pursuit of parity with academic qualifications.”

The report concluded by slamming the Department of Education and Skills (DfES) for its lack of management focus on introducing the Diplomas.

“It is unfortunate… that coherent end-to-end management, governance and reporting arrangements were not established within the DfES from the outset. We believe that there was a failure to appreciate the sheer scale and complexity of the challenge in hand.”

As a result the report warns that if further problems are found with the Diploma scheme, the wider roll out should be “delayed or reviewed in order to prevent [its] failure” .

The scheme, which incorporates the Construction Diploma, is being piloted in some areas of England from 2008. The idea is to have a system of learning for 14-19 year-olds that is a 'middle way' between vocational and academic study.