Number of colleges taking on 14-16 students falls for first time

The TES is reporting that fewer than one in 13 FE colleges are recruiting 14-16 earners this year, TES research reveals.

When colleges were given the green light to recruit 14- and 15-year-old students in 2013, it was hailed as a game-changing moment for the sector.

But, for the first time since then, the number of colleges recruiting younger students has dropped, according to TES research. Overall enrolment rates across England have remained low, with the Association of Colleges (AoC) acknowledging the challenges of attracting younger students.

This year, Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education is the biggest 14-16 recruiter, with the number of students increasing from 104 in 2015-16 to 163.

Debra Gray, principal of the Grimsby Institute Group, said: “The students get a full GCSE curriculum, plus hands-on vocational learning in an extended day and in class sizes of no more than 18….It is a real success story. It also proves that with the right vision and approach, FE providers can deliver extremely successfully to this age group.”

Catherine Sezen, the AoC’s 14-19 policy manager, said colleges had to think very carefully about whether recruiting young learners met their strategic objectives.

There are challenges around taking on 14-16s, she said: “Often, it is young people who have not been successful in school, because maybe they haven’t fitted in or they have a passion for music or engineering, which maybe wasn’t met in the school context… I think there may be questions over viability in terms of funding.”

More at: Number of colleges taking on 14-16 students falls for first time

Why do you think the number of students has been reduced? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie

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  1. It’s clear from the difficulties FE Colleges, UTCs and studio schools have in recruiting 14 year-olds that such a policy isn’t popular.   FE Colleges should concentrate on their core purpose: offering further education to 16+ and older students.  UTCs and studio schools should only continue if they’ve recruited sufficient students.  And no more should be set up – waste of taxpayers’ money.

  2. Between 2004 and 2009 I was the Head of the 14-16 school at an FE College and it was highly successful – although of the 300 on roll only 70 were regularly full time. Managed correctly, providing for 14-16 year old learners in an FE environment works very well – learners achieve and progress and at the same cost as it would be for them to be in a school. I just think that as FE colleges have so much to focus on now with funding slashed and the numbers resitting GCSEs increased, it’s far down the list of their priorities.

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