CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Staying-on rates boosted by flexibility at 14-16
An education programme where 14-16 year olds spend part of their week taking vocational subjects at college has been successful in motivating young people to stay on in education or training after the age of 16. An evaluation of the Increased Flexibility Programme (IFP) for 14-16 year olds, carried out by the National Foundation for Education Research, revealed improved examination results, a more positive attitude to education and a 90 per cent staying-on rate among young people of school-leaving age.
The IFP is designed to provide a wider choice of subjects, particularly in vocational areas, at Key Stage 4. It works largely through partnerships where pupils spend part of the week away from school at a college, a training organization or with an employer. Launched by the Department for Education and Skills in 2002, the IFP is supported by the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA), which provides resources, training, advice and consultancy to teachers.
The main findings of the evaluation are:
Schools reported that 90 per cent of IFP students continued into further education or training after age 16, exceeding the 75 per cent target. Two thirds were aiming for a qualification that was at a higher level than they had studied at school.
There was substantial evidence that young people improved their confidence, social skills and employability skills as a result of participating in IFP. Young people also showed a more positive attitude toward school and its usefulness for their future. The IFP has been particularly successful with young people who under-achieve at Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14), but it has the potential to engage higher achievers as well.
More than 80 per cent of young people enjoyed the courses they were doing post-16 and just under three-quarters said it was related to a career they were interested in. Just over two-fifths reported that IFP had influenced their choice of post-16 destination and just over a fifth of those who had jobs were employed in the vocational area they had studied through their IFP course. Those young people who had continued into further education or training, such as apprenticeships, were significantly more positive about what they were doing than those who were in a job without training.
Young people who followed a vocational qualification gained significantly more points overall than similar students who had not participated in IFP. Most (91 per cent) who took the new GCSEs in vocational subjects, for instance, attained their qualifications at grades A*-G and just over two thirds gained other vocational qualifications, such as NVQs, by the end of Year 11.
Young people from schools that were involved in a partnership with a college or other learning provider achieved better results than those who were taught solely at school or in another single institution. Partnerships were most effective when part of the teaching was carried out at school and where fewer than five schools were involved in working with a college.
Mike Cox, executive manager, Vocational Learning, commented: “This programme has proved to be a huge success. A major concern in the UK has been the relatively low staying-on rates of young people at ages 16 and 17 as highlighted by international studies. At present, 13 per cent of 16-year-olds do not continue in education or training. This research shows that by providing the right kind of education, which offers flexibility and choice, young people who may have become disaffected at school can be motivated to stay on and achieve qualifications. We may not have cracked the problem entirely, but these findings show that the right kind of vocational education can play a significant role in helping young people to find direction in their lives.”
Copies of the report are obtainable from the National Foundation for Educational Research, Publications Unit, The Mere, Upton Park, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 2DQ.