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Losing our special touch

It does seem a shame that the Government is about to use compulsion to force young people to stay on when, as you report ("FE attracts record numbers", FE Focus, January 4), numbers are already at their highest - with 753,000 staying on at 16.

It is as if the sledgehammer is being used just when the gently-gently approach was being proved to work. And it will mean those of us who prefer to work in post-compulsory education will now find ourselves employed in what will become an extension of the secondary school system, which, rather than being fixed, is simply being extended by two years. I say "those of us" but I've recently retired after a happy career as an FE lecturer.

I am able to look back on the college golden days when, whatever complaints we have about pay, etc, colleges were at least colleges and not an extension of the schools system.

If FE is to involve dealing with disruptive students who don't want to attend, the job will have lost much of its attraction - and colleges will have lost much of the special character which makes them such an attractive second chance for those who prefer studying in a more adult environment.

Wendy Carter, Lecturer (retired), Bodenham, Herefordshire.

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