Further study is not right for all

7th April 2006 at 01:00
I attend a sixth-form college with a healthy mixture of creed, race, colour and wealth. However, I was surprised when I first arrived there at the people from my high school who had decided to continue on in further education.

It had seemed to me they were not inclined to the academic way of life - and apparently I was right. They fail to attend classes and repeatedly complain of boredom, yet also of the piles of work that they have stacked up to do.

I understand that in our new, enlightened society we are meant to offer everyone the same opportunities in education, whether rich or poor, clever or not so clever. The first of these I agree with wholeheartedly: lack of money should never prevent someone furthering their education.

The second I am less convinced of. There are more people than ever in FE.

Why is this? Is it an insatiable lust for knowledge and ambition? Or is it simply something to do?

When I asked a girl in my class, who is rarely in college, why she had bothered to enrol at all, she said if she had not gone to college, what would she have done?

The girl in question was not particularly clever but she had the magical five GCSE passes at grades A*-C, which enabled her to sit almost any A-level she wished. As she said, it seemed the only option available.

Why is this? Our "enlightened" society seems to be suffocating us in a new fashion. Why should FE be the only option? Shouldn't we recognise that some people are not made for endless academic study?

Forcing them to continue in education is wrong. If they try and then fail it disadvantages them for life. If they cannot hack the work then they start missing lessons and eventually drop out, or distract others and prevent them from learning.

This is not fair. Education should be available for everyone but should not be the only option available.

The government tells us about endless vocational course options and Modern Apprenticeships, but few seem to materialise. The country has a shortage of trained craftsmen, plumbers, tilers and so on, yet we are not tapping into the natural supply that we have.

Young people need to be told about all the options and then guided to the right one for them, whether that be in FE or not.

Eleri Price ,17, is a student at St David's Catholic college, Cardiff, studying AS-levels in Welsh, history, English language and the Welsh baccalaureate

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