To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families which schools will be offering a new diploma course in September 2008; what estimate he has made of the number of pupils who will be enrolling on such courses; and if he will make a statement.
In the early years of diploma delivery, we have made it our priority that all learners doing diplomas should have a good experience. To this end, we instituted a rigorous Gateway process, designed to ensure that only consortiums which were well placed to deliver from 2008 were allowed to do so. Only around 20 per cent. of applications were approved to teach diplomas in 2008 through this process, with 144 consortiums across the country involved in delivery.
Since then, we have been supporting these consortiums in a range of ways, and training teachers to teach diplomas. At the time of making Gateway applications, the consortiums approved to deliver from 2008 estimated that around 39,000 young people could be taking diplomas, In a number of cases, we have encouraged consortiums to keep student numbers lower than their initial projections in the first year, as new arrangements are introduced, in order to ensure that the quality of the experience for young people is extremely high. Therefore, we would anticipate that learner numbers in these areas should be lower than initial consortiums' projections. However, young people are making choices at present for September and, particularly post-16, will continue to do so for some months. We are therefore unable to provide an accurate national figure for learner numbers in September at this point.
Recent announcements of the results of the second Diploma Gateway show a significant increase in the quality of applications to deliver diplomas, leading to a substantial increase in the number of consortiums approved to deliver diplomas in 2009 against the same rigorous criteria. By September 2009, we anticipate that some 335 consortiums will be offering diplomas to around 100,000 young people.