Wrexham is racing along the learning pathway

Isabella Kaminski

If there was proof that offering more subject choice to teenagers is working, look no further than Wrexham, say the county's officials.

Only two 15-year-olds left school without qualifications in the town this year, the lowest in Wales, according to the latest Assembly government figures.

Learning officers say targeting teenage mothers, looked-after children and young carers has prevented them dropping out, but wider vocational and qualification choice has also clinched it.

Hywyn Williams, Wrexham's chief learning and achievement officer, said the impact of "greater diversity" in the curriculum was being felt, six years after the government announced plans for the skills led 14-19 learning pathways.

"We have put a lot of effort into ensuring young people just don't get one qualification, but an entire suite," he said. As an authority, Wrexham is speeding ahead with plans to introduce more choice to teens. By September 2009, it will offer 28 subjects to all pupils.

All nine mainstream secondary schools and one special school, as well as Yale College, are part of the authority's 14-19 network that links pupils under a common timetable.

Students at risk of underachieving are identified early in schools and pupil referral units and tracked throughout their education.

There is also a strong emphasis on giving pupils a taste of success early on to boost their confidence.

"Some young people see two years as an awfully long time, said Mr Williams. "If you can give them short term targets to achieve by the end of Year 10, it helps."

The Assembly government's target is that no young person should leave school without an approved qualification, including GCSEs, NVQs and Btecs, by 2010.

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Isabella Kaminski

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