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Teenagers need not be difficult

YOUR correspondent Claire George seems not to have read the FE Focus report on the Natfhe conference debate on under-16s in colleges very carefully ("An insult to 14-year-olds?", FE Focus, June 13).

As the original article ("Teenage backlash ahead, warns union", FE Focus, May 30) made clear, I reported to the Natfhe conference that feedback from our members shows colleges' work with under-16s is patchy.

Natfhe has had reports of excellent work taking place , which clearly should include Ms George's college. But we have also heard of less successful initiatives, where schools seem to be "dumping" students they want to get rid of.

We agree with Ms George that staff need the right skills and knowledge and support to work with teenagers effectively. This has been Natfhe policy for a long time. We are pleased that the Government has caught up with our view, and that the third element of the Success for All strategy focuses on developing leaders, lecturers, trainers, managers and support staff Ms George's letter stresses the need for successful partnerships to develop the 14-19 curriculum. Again Natfhe would agree. We are working hard with the Learning and Skills Council and other stakeholders to produce comprehensive advice and guidance on under-16s for the new academic year.

Policies passed at our 2003 Conference outlined the issues, policies and practices that need to be addressed so that the programmes offered by colleges to students under 16 are of the highest quality and have the best chance of success.

Dan Taubman National official for FE, Natfhe 27 Britannia Street, London WC1

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