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Higher education and the reform of 14-19 education and skills

Higher education has a vital role in the success of the reform of 14-19 education. The reforms were set out in the DfES White Paper 14-19 Education and Skills published in February 2005, followed by the 14-19 Implementation Plan.

Their purpose is to create opportunities for all young people to continue learning until at least the age of 18 and to give them the knowledge and skills for further learning and employment. This is important because a major weakness of the 14-19 phase of education is low participation post-16, which has a clear implication for the numbers of young people with the qualifications and aspiration to progress to HE.

Information on the reform of qualifications and curriculum is available from the 14-19 Gateway. The reforms include the development of diplomas in 14 sectors, with a national entitlement by 2013. The first five diplomas - in engineering, health and social care, ICT, creative and media, and construction and the built environment - will begin in September 2008. GCSEs and A-levels will also be strengthened, including the introduction of an extended project at A-level.

At a local level partnerships between local authorities and local Learning and Skills Councils, schools, colleges, training providers and other bodies, will deliver the diplomas. The first five diplomas will be delivered in local authority areas that successfully got through the 'gateway' process. See the Diploma Gateway Results page for further details.

Against that background, HEFCE has commissioned five Lifelong Learning Networks (LLNs) to act as pathfinders for the HE sector in their engagement with the new diplomas. These LLNs are primary routes through which progression from the diplomas to HE can be facilitated. All LLNs, however, will wish to keep abreast of 14-19 developments and tailor their curriculum development and progression agreements so that they are prepared for these fundamental reforms.

Looking forward, we are keen to ensure that the second wave of diplomas that will be delivered from September 2009 - Land-based and environmental studies, Manufacturing, Hair and Beauty, Business Administration and Finance, Hospitality and Catering - have been developed with progression to higher education in mind.

Diplomas are being developed by multi-agency Diploma Development Partnerships (DDPs). We are encouraging the DDPs that are developing the diplomas to engage with HE and its agencies - such as LLNs, the HE Academy and Foundation Degree Forward - to ensure that the diplomas offer genuine progression opportunities towards higher level skills.

For further information, contact Paul Hazell , tel 0117 931 7452, or Sarah Howls, tel 0117 9317073


Fair access and admissions

Action on Access summary guide to 14-19 reform

Last updated 7 August 2007