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'Jumpy about the nitty-gritty'

CASE 3: Highbury College, Portsmouth. Ngaio Crequer reports on the results of a Curriculum 2000 survey, while colleges give Martin Whittaker their reactions to the changes

A MAJOR concern at Highbury College is how many students will actually want the broader mix-and-match qualifications on offer in Curriculum 2000.

Highbury is one of the UK's biggest general further education colleges, and offers mainly vocational courses.

"We feel reasonably prepared," said Richard Moore, deputy director of curriculum. "Our major concern is whether students coming to a college like ours will want this breadth. Many of our students specifically want to do subjects like beauty therapy or hairdressing, with a view to getting into it as quickly as they can."

He said Highbury has had to add extra material to next year's prospectus because most of the changes came too late.

"Like all colleges we're a little concened that some of the decisions have not yet been finalised. The name-swap from GNVQ to vocational A-level in the last month was a surprise.

"A lot of the nitty-gritty has still not been decided, so we're a little jumpy about that."

Mr Moore said coping with increasing numbers taking exams is another concern. "I think this is an area that colleges have not really thought about. The increased external assessment and all the logistics that go with that, is going to be a major issue.

"Then there is all the administration that goes with students doing a number of different qualifications rather than just one. These are all big issues."

Curriculum 2000 has, he admitted, been a big burden on staff.

"I visit a lot of general FE colleges and in every one you go to, staff there think other colleges are way ahead of them.

"In truth I think we're all pretty much at about the same pitch."

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