None of this could be possible without our employer partners. Even the assessment is carried out by an external Employer Advisory Board, rather than teachers. Students submit a personal statement of their achievements alongside a portfolio of supporting evidence. They must then defend this in a viva-style interview with two employers, who will decide if they demonstrate the basic professional skills needed for an entry-level role. Students can receive Bronze, Silver or Gold awards, with the possibility of Platinum for those who progress in year 13. They can also fail, of course. Naturally, this is not something we want to see. But it’s important that the diploma has high stakes.
In year 13, students can also compete for a place on our Aspirations Scholarship Scheme. This is a top-quality, well-paid, four-week work placement in their chosen sector. I’m particularly proud of this aspect of the programme, which helps students get their foot in the door and put their skills into practice. It also builds the AED’s currency with employers, giving them an opportunity to scout talent and build rapport with potential future employees.