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

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

01 July 2006

Research report available to download from DfE

Research brief available to download from DfE

The Increased Flexibility Programme for 14 to 16 year olds (IFP) was introduced in 2002. The aim of the programme was to 'create enhanced vocational and work-related learning opportunities for 14 to 16 year olds of all abilities who can benefit most' - this included supporting provision of the GCSEs in vocational subjects. The first cohort of Year 10 students embarked on their programme in 2002 and this was followed by a second cohort in 2003 and subsequent cohorts in the following years.

This summary focuses on the outcomes for participants who participated in the programme between 2003 and 2005 (cohort 2) during a time of change in 14 to 19 policy. It should be stressed that this summary reflects the outcomes for only the second cohort of young people to participate in this new and developing approach to delivering a more flexible and vocational curriculum through institutions working in partnership.

Key Findings

  • The IFP exceeded its target in so far as the majority of young people made a positive transition. The majority (87 per cent) of young people who participated in the second cohort of IFP progressed into further education or training. This was consistent with the percentage of the first cohort who progressed.
  • The IFP was also positively associated with the attainment of participants, but this was not consistent across all types of qualifications studied. Young people who took NVQs and GNVQs did better than might be expected, given their prior attainment, while those taking other vocational qualifications did less well. Young people taking GCSEs in vocational subjects achieved at levels broadly commensurate with expectations.
  • IFP appeared to be particularly advantageous for particular types of students. Female students gained more points in their IFP qualification than similar students who were male. However, male students who took NVQs gained more points than female students taking NVQs, once prior attainment and other factors were taken into account. Students with lower attainment at key stage 3 gained higher total point scores at key stage 4, relative to their prior attainment, than similar students with higher key stage 3 attainment.
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