A qualification for 14–19‐year‐olds, introduced in 2008, to run alongside the General Certificate of Secondary Education and the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level. The Diploma combines theoretical and practical learning, and is aimed at young people of all ability levels. It consists of four main components: ‘principal learning’ with a focus on a specific sector of employment; ‘generic learning’, which includes functional skills in literacy, mathematics, and information technology; ‘additional or specialist learning’, which offers either breadth or depth of study in a particular topic; and work experience, which relates to their ‘principal learning’ focus. The first Diplomas to be introduced (2008/11) are in engineering, construction, and the built environment; information technology; society, health, and development; and creative media. They constitute part of a wider reform of education for 14–19‐year‐olds discussed in the 2005 White Paper 14–19 Education and Skills, which sets the target that all young people should possess functional skills in English and mathematics by the time they leave school. It is interesting to compare the purpose and role of the Diploma with those attributed to the General National Vocational Qualification when it was introduced in 1992.
http://www.dfes.gov.uk/publications/14-19educationandskills/pdfs/14-19WhitePaper.pdf Gives the full text of the White Paper which introduced the Diploma.