The Diploma in Humanities and Social Sciences

Article excerpt

The Diploma in Humanities and Social Sciences is currently being developed by Creative and Cultural Skills, one of the sector skills councils. It will be launched in schools in 2011, providing a new way of teaching humanities and social sciences using innovative strategies involving practical learning as well as theoretical teaching. It will retain the rigour of the constituent subjects while offering breadth of un derstandin g.

The Humanities and Social Sciences Diploma presents an exciting challenge. The steering group is seeking to create a qualification that is unique and irresistible to students. The qualification needs to define what applied learning means to the humanities and social sciences and how that relates to the world of work and working in the community. It also needs to convince subject associations and higher education that we have created a course that is academically rigorous and creates proper relationships with its constituent subjects.

My experience as the head of an inner London comprehensive for 20 years convinces me that it is important to seek new ways to motivate students to learn, to link learning closely to the world outside the school gates and to ensure that qualifications are exploring the qualities needed to cope with the demands of the world students are living in. An important question for this new diploma must be how it is assessed and the range of possibilities, skills and technologies involved in the assessment.

We want the diploma to be about the word we live in, how we see that world and how we can act socially and economically in that world. We want to hook students in by creating a personal connection. The starting point for engagement could be questions like:

* what makes me who I am

* what have I got to offer

* how can I shape the world I live in

* should we steward the world for future generations?

Research on students' attitudes to the curriculum, carried out by QCA, revealed that they failed to make connections between subjects and between the curriculum, life and work. …