The 14-19 diploma

The Diploma. 'What's that?' we hear you cry. BTEC? First? National? No; this is a whole new type of qualification, simply known as 'The Diploma'. New research by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has found that young people, not to mention their parents, are confused about what the new 14-19 Diplomas in England entail, leading to a slow initial take-up of the qualification. So if you're wanting to know more, read on...

The Diploma

The Diploma is a new qualification for 14-19 year olds, and is set to become one of the three main learning choices alongside GCSEs, A levels and Apprenticeships. It provides a recognised and respected route into further and higher education or direct employment. At whatever level you study, the diploma lasts for 2 years.

What are the different levels?

The Diploma can be studied at 3 levels.

  • For Years 10 and 11, the Foundation Diploma is equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades D to G.
  • The Higher Diploma is equivalent to 7 GCSEs at grades A* to C.
  • In Year 12 or above, the Advanced Diploma matches 3.5 A-Levels.
    • progression level is also available which equals 2.5 A-Levels.
      • From 2011, students will be able to take up an Extended Diploma, which runs at each level. The extended diploma will enable students to gain an insight into all 17 subjects that will be on offer, in addition to more emphasis on Maths and English. Studying the extended diploma will see the Foundation Diploma worth 7 GCSEs at D-G; Higher would then be worth 9 GCSEs from A*-C; Advanced would then be worth 4.5 A Levels.

How is it taught?

All Diplomas are structured in the same way, with three elements:

  • Principal Learning is the subject specific learning, for example Creative and Media
  • Generic Learning incorporates functional skills (literacy, numeracy, IT), the project, work experience, personal learning and thinking skills
  • Additional and Specialist Learning includes further qualifications, such as picking up a GCSE, that can be included in the Diploma.

What subjects can I study?

The first schools to teach the Diploma started in September 2008 offering 5 subjects. This September (2009) the Diploma offers 10 subjects to choose from with a mix of theoretical and practical learning, it is designed to appeal to a broad spectrum of students with differing abilities and aspirations. Four more subjects will be added in 2010 and another 3 will be available from 2011. Students benefit from a course that enables you to develop a range of hands-on experience and intellectual skills, in a broad work-related subject context.

Current subjects:

  • Business, Administration and Finance
  • Construction and the Built Environment
  • Creative and Media
  • Engineering
  • Environmental and Land-based Studies
  • Hair and Beauty Studies
  • Hospitality
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing and Product Design
  • Public Services
  • Retail Business
  • Society, Health and Development
  • Sport and Active Leisure
  • Travel and Tourism


Future Diploma subjects:

  • Diploma in Humanities and Social sciences
  • Diploma in Languages and International Communication
  • Diploma in Science


More Information

For more information on Diplomas visit the government's education site about the 14-19 diploma.