Evaluation of Increased Flexibility for 14 to 16 year olds programme: Outcomes for the first cohort

Peter Rudd, Tom Benton, Sarah Golden, Lisa O'Donnell

01 August 2005

Research report available to download from DfE

Research brief available to download from DfE

The Increased Flexibility for 14-16 year olds Programme (IFP) was introduced in 2002 by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to provide vocational learning opportunities at key stage 4 for those young people who would benefit most. The programme, which entailed FE colleges and training providers working in partnership with schools to offer GCSEs in vocational subjects, NVQs, other vocational qualifications and GNVQs to students, was subsequently extended to three further cohorts of young people.

The DfES commissioned NFER to undertake an evaluation of the first cohort of participants. This summary presents selected key findings relating to the attainment, progression, attendance and attitudes of the first cohort of IFP students (2002-2004).

Key Findings

  • The majority of young people who took new GCSEs and GNVQs attained their qualifications (91 per cent and 80 per cent respectively). In addition, the majority of the sample of young people who had undertaken NVQs and other vocational qualifications had achieved the qualification at the end of Year 11 (66 per cent and 67 per cent respectively).
  • In addition, the GNVQs and NVQs achieved by these young people contributed to them gaining higher total point scores than would have been expected given their prior attainment and background characteristics. However, those who took GCSEs in vocational subjects attained levels commensurate with their prior attainment and those who took other vocational qualifications achieved fewer points than might be expected compared to similar students who did not participate.
  • Students who studied GCSEs in vocational subjects and GNVQs, but did not participate in IFP, also attained better outcomes than might be expected and, indeed, gained higher points still than young people who had taken these qualifications through IFP.
  • Overall, the transition target for IFP partnerships had been successfully met, as schools reported that around 90 per cent of young people who had been involved in the first cohort of IFP had continued into further education or training post-16. Analysis of the cohort as a whole, using matched participation and attainment datasets, indicated a post-16 participation rate of 80 per cent. Two-fifths (42 per cent) of young people said that their participation in IFP had influenced their decision about their post-16 destination.
  • The majority of young people who were undertaking a course post-16 were pursuing a qualification that was at a higher level than the level of the course they had undertaken through IFP.
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