This project was undertaken as a Research and Development funded project for NFER, between April and November 2007. It involved case-study visits to five FE colleges with extensive experience of providing courses for 14-16 year-olds, and face-to-face interviews with senior managers and teaching staff, 14-16 year-old, 16-19 year-old and mature students.
- The context of a college and the number of 14-16 year-olds it is hosting, as well as experience over time influences the approaches adopted.
- Older learners in the colleges were largely unaffected by the presence of younger students, as most rarely came across them, and if they did, their reaction was generally positive. Adverse comments concerned noise and immature behaviour, usually out of class.
- Consideration of facilities, overall numbers and type of courses are guiding factors in deciding on whether provision should be in discrete or in-fill classes.
- Teaching 14-16 year-olds is becoming accepted practice in colleges and was seen as having benefits for the young people themselves, the college and its wider community.
- An appropriate and transparent selection process is necessary to ensure that the 'right student was on the right course'. Close liaison with schools, committed lecturers and adequate support for the students are also essential for success.
- Outstanding concerns include health and safety issues and the need to balance increasing demand for places with preserving the FE ethos.
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