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Sense of freedom gets the thumbs-up

"The option to go to college was strongly supported by both pupils and teachers," according to the report by Carole Millar Research on pupil attitudes, despite many improvements yet to be made.

"The best thing about college was often just that it wasn't school," the report states.

Drawing on the experience of 846 pupils who attended 12 colleges from 26 schools last session, the study found that the pupils involved "particularly liked the more adult environment which offered both greater freedom and responsibility".

There was "a greater sense of mutual respect" between college lecturer and student, and greater motivation because work was being undertaken out of choice.

The drawbacks were found to be having to miss classes, having to travel, having to mix with other students, the absence of a qualification and, occasionally, problems with the lecturer.

There were also difficulties with timetabling which raised the question of whether a college course should replace or be additional to the existing school diet.

One improvement suggested by pupils themselves was that there should be better information about FE courses to allow them to make better choices and use their time at college more effectively.

"They specifically mentioned good presentations from college lecturers providing information about what was involved in the course and how they would be spending their time on it," the report states.

"Timing of information was important so that pupils had the opportunity to consider their options rather than simply be asked to tick a selection from a given list."

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