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Open door policy helps those failed by school

Miriam Stanton Bede sixth form college Hale Road Billingham

In "Labour's fading post-16 dream" (FE Focus, October 27), you make the mistake of saying that sixth-form colleges do not cater for students who failed to get at least five good GCSEs. At Bede College, the smallest in the sector, we provide an adult pre-entry course for those with special needs which incorporates foundation work for appropriate students aged 16 who have no achievement whatsoever at school.

We have level 2 (GCSE-equivalent) courses in business and health and social care for those who failed to get GCSEs while in school and who probably would not achieve a level 3 (A-level equivalent) qualification at this stage.

We take some students on to advanced level courses with fewer than five GCSEs if we think they will succeed.

We have a 15-year-old from a special school, who had refused to attend the school, whom we have taken without funding because the local authority and the school do not want to transfer the money.

Last year, our teachers taught health and social care to 120 15 and 16-year-olds from local schools, either here at Bede or in their schools.

Not bad for a college of 480 students overall.

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