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Schools Minister, Jim Knight, sat in on an interactive classroom session led by a Primary Care Trust today. He watched as youngsters participated in activities involving first aid, hygiene and testing pulse rates - experiencing first-hand what a new SHD Diploma lesson might entail and meeting students considering it as an option.

Developed by employers, schools, colleges and universities, the Diploma aims to help young people aged 14 to 19 to realise their potential and gain knowledge and skills in a ‘real world’ environment. It can be taken alongside GCSEs, A-levels and vocational subjects, but it differs from these traditional qualifications as it combines theoretical study with practical learning – aiming to equip students with skills they can apply to the next stage of their development; be that at university, in college or at work.

The Diploma in Society, Health and Development brings together the workforces of health; adult social care; community justice; and children and young people’s services; within one qualification. Covering a range of topics across these sectors, key themes include: examining how different organisations work together; exploring patterns of offending behaviour; and assessing the differences that lifestyle choices can make to an individual’s health and well-being.

To encourage independent thinking, the Diploma will focus on project work, whilst retaining a strong emphasis on core skills in English, maths and ICT. It will also offer students the chance to apply the knowledge and skills they have gained in the classroom within a work-relevant environment and through work-experience placements.

Speaking at Smestow School in Wolverhampton, which hosted the visit, Jim Knight said:

“It’s great to hear about the employer support for the Diploma in Society, Health and Development. This Diploma covers areas that are of great importance to people in the UK so it’s important that the young people coming through our education system have the skills that employers are looking for. We believe the Diploma will help to meet this need.”

Jim Knight was joined by representatives from some of the schools and colleges that will be delivering the SHD Diploma from September 2008 and a range of employers who have been closely involved in its design. Included in this group was Stephanie Harris, Director of Workforce at Wolverhampton PCT, who also ran the day’s practical session. She said:

“The SHD Diploma offers a number of opportunities for Wolverhampton PCT: it enables us to showcase the vast array of jobs available across health and social care; it allows young people to make properly informed choices about whether they want to pursue a career in the sector; it opens up potential recruitment opportunities; and it dovetails into our strategic responsibility for the health and well-being of the local population.”

Diploma expert, Sharon Ensor, from Skills for Health - the lead sector skills council heading up the development of the SHD Diploma added:

“The way healthcare sector employers have involved themselves in this new qualification has been fantastic - from the curriculum design through to long-term planning for sustainable partnerships locally. They have helped bring the Diploma to life; creating relevant and engaging content that gives students the in-depth knowledge, practical skills and real-life experience that both employers and universities need.”

Plans for a total of 17 Diplomas are underway and will be available to students across the country by 2013. Last week, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, announced three new Diplomas in Science, Humanities and Languages, to be introduced in 2011 and said he believed that “Diplomas could emerge as the jewel of our education system”.


Notes to editors:

Supporting photography available on request. Contact details at end of release.

For further information on Diplomas, please visit

1. This is the second in a series of visits planned by Ministers to see how the first five Diploma lines are being implemented across the country. The first visit happened on Monday when Secretary of State, Ed Balls, went to Tower Hamlets College in London to meet employers and academics involved in the Diploma in IT.

2. The Diploma is part of a national programme to widen the choice of courses for young people to motivate them and encourage them to continue learning for longer. It will help them to gain the qualifications they need for success – at work, at college or at university.

3. Five Diploma subjects will be available from 2008 in the following subjects:

Society, Health and Development
Construction and the Built Environment
Creative and Media

4. There are three levels of the Diploma – Foundation, Higher and Advanced – which students can choose to study at different stages in their education.

5. We expect a Foundation Diploma to be broadly equivalent to 5 GCSEs grade D-G, a Higher Diploma to be broadly equivalent to 7 GCSEs grade A*-C and an Advanced Diploma to be broadly the same as 3 or 3.5 A levels. QCA is still to announce the exact equivalencies for the first Diploma qualifications but this information is based on the amount of time it takes to teach and the challenge involved in completing a composite qualification like the Diploma. UCAS will be taking their decision about the Diploma tariff either later this year or early next.

6. Alongside compulsory modules, students will have the opportunity to choose from a range of other subject options, whilst continuing to develop core skills in English, maths and IT. This learning will be advanced by work experience, which will provide a chance for young people to learn from and be mentored by professionals working in their chosen field.

About the Society, Health and Development Diploma (SHD Diploma) –

The SHD Diploma is an exciting and innovative new qualification for 14 – 19 year-olds in England. It involves a unique mix of general education, essential skills, hands-on experience and employer-based learning that prepares young people for work or further study.

Diplomas are new employer designed qualifications offered at three levels in 14 broad employment sectors. They represent the most important change to the country’s education system for more than a century and have been developed with support and input from employers, employer bodies, unions, further and higher education, training providers and awarding bodies. Completing a Diploma allows young people to progress to further study, university or employment.

During the design of the Society, Health and Development Diploma these stakeholders - together with four Sector Skills Councils from the employer-led Skills for Business network - have collaborated extensively as part of the SHD Diploma’s ‘Diploma Development Partnership’ (DDP). These SSCs involved are:

SkillsActive (representing the wider children’s workforce)

Skills for Care (representing adult social care)

Skills for Health (representing the health sector)

Skills for Justice (representing community justice)

Skills for Health is the lead SSC in the design of the SHD Diploma and has taken responsibility for setting up and chairing the DDP to produce the Diploma’s final ‘statement of content’.

The SHD Diploma will be available in selected schools and colleges in England with effect from September 2008 (for details see the ‘Gateway’ section of the DfES website at

For further information about the Society, Health and Development Diploma visit or email

Issued on behalf of Skills for Health by:

Louise Jaggs at TextOnTap

01242 257770 - 07712 011246 -

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of On Tap Communications in the following categories: Education & Human Resources, Medical & Pharmaceutical, for more information visit