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Wasted youth

The FE Focus article on student wastage (TES, March 29) focused attention on a vital and important topic. I worry, though, whether the conclusion that college care is the only significant factor to explain the student drop-out rate can be sustained from the reports mentioned.

The research certainly does suggest that, in a given college, it is the quality of teaching and support that makes the difference between classes with good and poor retention. However, it did not make any comparisons between rich and poor areas. It is entirely possible (even, I would guess, likely) that drop-out is generally higher in tough, inner-city colleges for social reasons, even if it is the better taught classes within those institutions that retain more strongly than the rest.

ADRIAN PERRY Principal Lambeth College, London SW4

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