Six more FE colleges will start recruiting students from the age of 14 this year, the Education Funding Agency has revealed.
The EFA confirmed that the six providers intended to join the 14 colleges already directly recruiting full-time younger learners. The announcement comes as new figures reveal that the number of 14-16 students recruited by colleges increased almost fourfold in 2014-15.
The providers looking to recruit at 14 for the first time are: Cambridge Regional College, Central Bedfordshire College, East Durham College, East Kent College, John Ruskin College and South Tyneside College.
Since September 2013, FE and sixth-form colleges have been able to enrol 14- to 16-year-olds who want to study for vocational qualifications alongside general qualifications at key stage 4. They receive direct funding from the EFA for each student they enrol.
In 2013-14, four FE colleges started recruiting younger learners, with a total of just 173 allocated students between them. Last year a further 10 colleges joined the programme, with the overall number of allocated students rising to 603.
Hull College has enrolled the largest number of younger students, with the number of 14-16 recruits increasing from 94 in 2013-14 to 206 in 2014-15, while West Thames College recruited only two younger students last year.
Information on the number of students allocated to colleges for 2015-16 will not be published until next April.