Young people with big ambitions are gearing up to graduate from the first Diploma course introduced in Blackburn with Darwen.
The engineering Diploma was the first Diploma to be introduced into schools nearly two years ago and is about to send off its first students – and they all have ambitious plans for their careers and future education.
Lessons are held at Darwen Vale High School, Blackburn College and Training 2000, where students learn about all aspects of engineering.
As well as traditional practical and theory engineering subjects, the course includes maths, electronics, product design, manufacturing, automotive, and new modes of engineering based on renewable energy materials.
Diploma projects being made by the students include a speaker box made using electronics and plastic and a shelf with built-in iPod dock.
The Diplomas are qualifications on their own but are studied alongside GCSEs and give students grounding in specific subjects. Students might travel to different schools or colleges and even visit employers to study the Diplomas but still take the core GCSEs at their home school.
The four Higher Diplomas available at the moment are engineering, society, health and development, construction and the built environment and creative and media.
A Higher Diploma is roughly the equivalent of seven GCSEs A*-C, and from next September our first Advanced Diploma (3.5 A-levels) in Engineering will be on offer at Blackburn College, but still jointly led by the College and Darwen Vale with support from Training 2000.
Sam Leyland said he was thinking over different career options, including A-Levels in sport, the advanced Diploma in engineering and joining the police: “You have to put time and effort into this course, it’s not an easy option, and you need to do a lot of theory and practical work.
“There is a lot of teamwork and I think you have to push yourself more than in usual lessons, especially during classes at the college or at Training 2000. Employers sometimes come in to teach us and talk about jobs as well, which is really useful.
“My advice to Year 9s who want to do this course is to be prepared – if you want to put the effort in you will do well. It is not an easy option, it is challenging but it is really worth it.”
Danny Aspden is interested in taking the subject further and doing the advanced Diploma in engineering: “I have always had a keen interest in engineering and I want to go into further training to go into a career at British Aerospace.
“There is a lot of work involved in the Diploma course, but we are getting some great experience and we get to do some great training and learn about all the aspects of engineering. My parents know I have liked engineering and are really pleased that I have picked the course, and I know it will help me in my career.”
Joe George wants to become a technology teacher, and plans to train at Blackburn College before doing his PGCE teacher training. He said: “If you are interested in any aspect of engineering, then this course will be really good for you. There is a really good balance and I have enjoyed everything.
“My mum is really proud and supportive that I’m taking the course and want to be a teacher. I think it has given me a really good start in the subject.”
Cllr Chris Thayne, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive member for children’s services, said: “This is the first Diploma to see its students graduate and I am delighted that they have found it so rewarding, challenging and useful for their potential future careers.
“The Diploma courses are incredibly varied and possess both academic and vocational aspects and means students have an enviable range of options after taking the course.
“The student experience suggests the increased variety of opportunities that Diplomas provide has resonated with the way many young people wish to develop their talents and ambitions
“More young people are enjoying this extension of education and training in preparation for their future careers.”