Flexibility gives pupils taste of FE

16th September 2005 at 01:00
Colleges and schools are sharing their facilities to create a specialist version of the increased flexibility programme which gives under-16s a taste of further education.

The London East scheme, unlike the increased flexibility programme for 14 to 16-year-olds, caters for teenagers up to the age of 19. Colleges and schools are being used to provide specialist tuition, with a bus service being provided to enable the students and pupils to attend part-time courses away from their main place of study.

Sean McMahon, 14-19 policy and strategy manager for east London's learning and skills council, said it is intended to promote specialist vocational education in the spirit of the recent Tomlinson proposals for educational reform.

Havering college in Essex is housing the pupils in a separate building to provide construction up to level 2 (GCSE-equivalent), performing arts at level 1 and art, design and media at level 1.

The tuition to school-age children is given by lecturers who are specialists in working with 14 to 16-year-olds. Schools also supply a member of staff to provide support, including pastoral care.

Courses are housed in a separate part of the college to its mainstream work.

The college works with Havering sixth-form college, which takes pupils on level 3 (A-level equivalent) art, design and media courses as well as music teaching at level 3.

Schools in Havering are also providing placements as well as releasing 500 pupils to study part-time under the scheme. Abbs Cross school is providing performing arts courses.

In Havering borough alone, pupils are attending the courses from nine schools, with pound;750,000 of funding over two years, including a contribution from the European Social Fund.

Jo Rigby, head of schools liaison at Havering college, said: "For Havering college, the project means that we can build on existing strong relationships with schools and provide excellent training opportunities for the young people of Havering of all abilities."

The project is an east London initiative but is expected to be closely followed around the country as the Government places more emphasis in 14-19 progression and links with higher education, as well as encouraging vocational specialism.

Sean McMahon, head of 14-19 policy and strategy at London East LSC, said:

"I think they have done a really good job. Increased flexibility has been a great success but what is different about this is that it is about employment sector specialisms, it is 14-19 and it includes placements in schools.

"It has been very much from the ground up and we have learned about overcoming some of the key barriers, such as transport, to make it work."

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