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Schools are not informing students of FE options, colleges say

Schools with sixth-forms are failing to offer careers advice on options in the FE sector, due to competition for student numbers, colleges have complained.

Despite proposals in the Education Bill that would require schools to present students with impartial information - including details on apprenticeships and other FE courses - colleges and other providers believe more must be done to ensure students are given information about the full range of options available to them.

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Learning Providers, called for further checks on schools to be put in place.

"The fact that schools are not giving impartial advice is an absolute disgrace, and it's misguided," he said.

"It's disgraceful that schools and sixth-forms in this day and age are holding back the choices of their pupils. It's not being handled very well at the moment. Even with the proposed changes, we still feel that not enough checks are in place."

Nick Moore, chairman of the board at Somerset College of Arts and Technology, said a local school that had recently opened a sixth-form has refused to allow college staff to speak to its students.

"It has made it difficult, if not impossible, for us to provide information to their students," he said.

"We used to go into the schools and tell them about the courses on offer at the college. Young people need good information before they make decisions about their next course of action and they are not getting independent advice.

"It's sad young people are being denied the information they need."

Debbie Ribchester, curriculum manager at the Association of Colleges, said that advice given was "patchy" and not impartial in some areas.

"A lot of young people haven't had information, particularly about apprenticeships and vocational courses," she said.

"Colleges would like to be able to get into schools and tell young people about what they have to offer."

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