More paths lead to training
The Assembly government wants teenagers to be offered more and different routes into academic and vocational training, education and qualifications, in a bid to reduce drop-out levels at 16.
Cardiff has pioneered developing the pathways following guidance from the Assembly. Jane Williams, Cardiff's 14 to 19 strategy co-ordinator, was due to report on progress at Dysg's, (Wales Learning and Skills Development Agency) annual policy and research conference yesterday.
New courses in vocational growth sectors are being developed and piloted, and gaps in provision have been identified in areas such as construction and engineering.
Welsh-language provision remains a priority, along with courses for special-needs students. A new options menu gives teenage students a clear indication of subjects and qualifications needed to follow the pathways from entry level to undergraduate work.
It also shows where courses are available. "We hope young people will soon have access to it, but it has to be managed with the utmost care - the volume of information is huge," said Ms Williams.
"We're working closely with the Assembly and Careers Wales to develop the on-line service. In Cardiff we hope those involved in the pilot programme will be using the information before the academic year ends."
One major provider involved, Coleg Glan Hafren, already has close links with around 15 Cardiff secondaries, and works with deputy heads in planning provision for 14 to 16-year-olds. It offers a franchise for post-16 students who find it hard to go to college.
"We've been building vocational pathways for years that link into the options area," said assistant principal Hilary Griffiths.
"Students come to college because they need a proper industrial location.
We have links into qualifications that industry wants, such as NVQs, and that youngsters want. The options menu will need huge investment in technical equipment but budgets are tight. It will have to be online so students can interrogate it."
Dysg director Sonia Reynolds told the conference the agency's mission to improve the quality of 14 to 19 education will not suffer when it gets swallowed up by the Assembly next month.
"We're looking to find ways of ensuring that providers understand policy and can feed back. We'll keep on doing what we have been doing - inside the Assembly we'll be closer to policy-making."