This report examined colleges' practical strategies and issues for integrating 14-16 year-old learners into the more traditional profile of FE. It is based on case studies of five colleges.
The aim of this research was to explore the impact that 14-16 year olds have on FE colleges, their staff and older learners, to examine the strategies that FE colleges and their staff used to integrate 14-16 year olds successfully into their institutions and to identify the issues that remained to be considered.
The key findings are divided under three headings: impact, strategies and issues. The key findings which are most relevant to ITE in terms of impact were:
- Teaching 14-16 year olds in colleges is becoming increasingly embedded within college practices and procedures as well as an expected element of the lecturers' role. The main focus for lecturers' professional development needs was in areas such as behaviour management, health and safety and child protection.
The main strategies considered to be successful for the inclusion of 14-16 year olds in colleges which are most relevant to ITE included:
- Close collaboration, liaison and effective communication between schools and colleges from the selection stage and then throughout the young person's college course. This resulted in the young people being better informed about the course they were going to take and contributed to the partners working together in the best interests of the young person. The report gives a number of examples of the strategies employed (pp.5-9) and of the ways in which lecturers adapted their teaching style to the younger age group (p. 13). A key issue concerned the strategies for protecting younger students and supervising them in break times when they were not in class (p.14).
Despite the variations of geographical area (urban or rural; the combination of school sixth forms, sixth form colleges or FE colleges) the main issues for further consideration relevant to ITE were:
- How to maintain a balance between the more adult ethos of FE which 14-16-year-old pupils value and the need for more parity with schools with regard to behaviour management and discipline.
- How to organise the timetable when students come from many different schools
This resource comes from an authoritative source in the form of the National Foundation for Educational research and is written by authors who between them have substantial experience of research in the sector. However the bibliography is remarkably short and restricted to policy documents, so this research experience is not reflected in the links to other research (see "Related Resources" below).
While this research is based on a small number of case studies, the selected colleges represented the main geographical areas of the south-east, south-west, midlands, north-east and north-west of England. Four were in large cities, all with areas of deprivation and changing industrial patterns and one was in a smaller town and took students from a predominantly prosperous area. All had considerable experience of providing courses for 14-16 year olds, particularly as a result of the Increased Flexibility Programme (which began in 2002), with most having accepted 14-16-year old students on a less formal basis for much longer.
The research has some claim to opening up a new area in that previous research has focused on the experiences of the 14-16 year olds attending a college course and the ways in which schools have interacted with colleges. This research mainly views the field from the perspective of the college and the ways in which they have integrated this 14-16 year-old group of learners into the more traditional profile of FE. However it does also comment on the nature of partnerships and collaboration as well as on the experiences of 14-16 year old students. The inclusion of 14-16 year olds will continue to increase in significance for colleges and their partners with the advent of Diplomas. However there is a substantial body of work on such partnerships (see references below) which would help supplement this report.
The report does repeat many of its findings in several different places which can make it seem a bit repetitive. However the messages are coherent and valuable as one means for those in the area to review their practices and approaches to 14-16 year olds.
For ITE tutors/mentors this report could prove useful in alerting trainees to some of the issues of working with 14-16 year olds in colleges. It gives a flavour of what trainees could look for when visiting placement colleges or when they go for interviews. It could be used as one source for considering the criteria by which such partnerships should be judged, the practical issues and consequences of such partnerships. The more practical examples of how teaching and management of students needed to be adapted to this age group could be used in sessions with ITE students.
For ITE students the inclusion of 14-16 year olds in traditional FE settings and these kinds of partnership are likely to increase in the short and medium term of their careers. So the report is useful in providing a prompt to consider some of the issues they may face and a stimulus to thinking about career development.
The following might be useful to read in conjunction with this resource:
Lumby J. (2007), 14-to-16-year-olds in further education: lessons for learning and leadership, in Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 59 (1), 1-18
McCrone, T., Wade, P. and Golden, S.
National Foundation for Educational Research
Article Id : 14192
Date Posted: 27/4/2008