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Ministers told to see colleges as a bridge between school and work

COLLEGES in Scotland have reminded ministers that they play an influential role in educating school-age pupils for the world of work.

But, in evidence to the Scottish Executive-led review of education for work and enterprise, the Association of Scottish Colleges warns that some policies work against the partnership between further education and schools.

"Concern is currently growing in schools that the commonly vocational and therefore work-oriented qualifications achieved by pupils who go to college for part of their studies cannot be counted in school 'league table' results.

"This could lead to schools not sending as many students to college to enhance their studies and opportunities to re-engage disaffected students being missed."

The association wants colleges to be included at an earlier stage and to be more involved in local and national initiatives affecting schools, recognising "the importance of colleges acting as a bridge between local schools and employers".

Work experience should be a basic right for all pupils to make them more enterprising and creative, with statutory backing.

Another effective way of persuading young people and their parents of the importance of education for work, the association maintains, is to make use of older students or trainees who could return to school to describe their experiences.

The review of education for work and enterprise is being carried out by a group chaired by Nicol Stephen, Deputy Education Minister. Among examples of college-school co-operation:

* Motherwell offers part-time study units in non-school subjects.

* Lauder runs an after-school club for about 20 primary pupils in microelectronics and is in the eighth year of a winter leavers programme for around 140 pupils a year.

* Dumfries and Galloway, along with the Construction Industry Training Board, works with primary and secondary youngsters on construction-related activities.

* Kilmarnock has developed language material for teaching French in primary schools.

* Edinburgh's Telford arranges "course shadowing" so pupils can spend a day with college students.

* Dundee attracts 1,000 third-year pupils to its annual "A Day In The Life Of" programmes which focus on more than 20 different careers.

* Reid Kerr has developed a programme for disaffected under-16s along with Renfrew Council.

* Glasgow College of Food Technology runs courses in banqueting skills for youngsters with special needs.

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