Further education: Vocational courses at colleges may aid GCSE results

21st August 2009 at 01:00
Offering school pupils vocational courses at FE colleges may be helping to boost their GCSE grades, Ofsted inspectors have found

Original paper headline: FE milieu could help raise pupils' GCSE results

The inspection body's second evaluation of diploma teaching found one example where a local authority had tracked a 10 per cent improvement in the numbers achieving five good GCSEs among students who had college vocational courses as part of their curriculum.

Its report said: "While it was often difficult to link GCSE-equivalent attainment directly to particular changes in provision, successes on new vocational courses and young apprenticeship programmes in some areas were clear contributory factors."

Colleges are also central to the functional skills aspect of the diploma. Inspectors said where maths and English skills were integrated with the principal learning, it was mostly taught by college staff who had experience of embedding key skills and vocational learning.

But in about half of the consortia, the teaching of functional skills "lacked co-ordination" and the quality of teaching varied considerably among these.

Inspectors said many of the consortia visited involved institutions that had already collaborated for many years, and the implementation was good in 20 of them, and satisfactory in the remaining three.

Employer involvement was also rated as good or outstanding in two-thirds of the consortia. Businesses had contributed to the course development and were offering work experience, speakers and visits.

But the problem of recruiting students to diplomas remains: inspectors found that numbers were particularly low at foundation and advanced levels.

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