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Time for post-16 partnership to make a comeback

Referring to co-operation between schools and colleges inspired by the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative and to the franchise arrangements which exist for some General National Vocational Qualification courses, the Further Education Funding Council report on GNVQs states that: "It would be unfortunate if competition for students between schools and college should lead to a weakening of collaboration on matters of mutual interest concerning the curriculum, assessment and progression in GNVQ courses."

The recent joint FEFCOffice for Standards in Education report on 16-19 guidance found that: "Students had a better knowledge of the full range of provision in local institutions in areas where partnerships had been established; where co-operative arrangements existed between the different providers; or where local careers services provided material describing the provision. Funding through TVEI had been important in encouraging collaboration between institutions."

The message is clear: where collaboration is still taking place, it works well. But such collaboration has had to survive Government-promoted competition between education institutions.

Perhaps the FEFC reports will mark a turning point and we shall enter a fruitful period in which schools and colleges will rediscover the benefits of collaboration and turn their backs on the worst excesses of inappropriate competition. We are, after all, part of an education service.

JOHN DUNFORD Vice president Secondary Heads Association 130 Regent Road Leicester.

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