Unorthodox incentives may re-engage the disaffected

I was surprised by your editorial in FE Focus ("Folly of EU phone subsidy", March 23). I normally have the highest respect for your publication but, in this instance, I think you have lost the plot.

To suggest that resources should only be targeted at those who want to learn is to ignore so many of the issues which are besetting the education system today.

The UK cannot afford the waste represented by inactive young people as it seeks to compete in the global economy. The FE sector does a brilliant job in picking up those who have been failed by the one-size-fits-all school system and setting them on paths more suitable to their needs and their learning styles.

Some of these young people need coaxing back into the system, and they may need incentives to kick start the re-engagement process before they realise that there are more suitable offers available than the schools which put them off in the first place.

In the week when Alan Johnson announced the long-rumoured policy of making participation compulsory in some form of education or training up to the age of 18, it is ever more evident that we need imaginative initiatives like this to keep young people engaged. Anyone who thinks that all young people can be made to sit behind desks till they are 18 is in for some severe shocks.

I applaud Pembrokeshire College's enterprising spirit in using mobile phone texting to re-engage students, and I think that most of your correspondents who understand the issues will join me in doing so.

John Popham director,John Popham Consulting, Huddersfield

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