Evaluation of Increased Flexibilities for 14-16 year olds: Profile of partnerships and students 2002 and 2003

Peter Rudd, Sarah Golden, Lisa O'Donnell, Julie Nelson

29 July 2004

Research brief available to download from DFE

The Increased Flexibilities Programme (IFP) was introduced in 2002 by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). The programme aimed to 'create enhanced vocational and work-related learning opportunities for 14- 16 year olds who can benefit most'. In order to achieve this, partnerships were formed between FE colleges and schools and, in some instances, other training providers and employers. Each partnership had a Lead Partner, which was usually an FE college, and the funding was channelled through Local Learning and Skills Councils (LLSCs) who also had responsibility for monitoring the process.

The DfES commissioned NFER to undertake an evaluation of the first and second cohorts of IFP students. This summary is based primarily on the analysis of the details of schools and students who were participating in the second cohort of IFP. It also presents comparisons with the first cohort and with all Year 10 students in IFP schools and nationally. Around two-thirds of schools (63 per cent or 1,279 schools) provided details of 33,706 students who were participating in the second cohort.

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Key Findings

  • A total of 2,020 schools, special schools and PRUs were engaged in partnerships for the second cohort of IFP. This represents around 45 per cent of all state secondary and special schools in England. Most (1,520 schools) had also been involved in the first cohort and, although 237 schools were only involved in the first and not the second cohort, overall the number of participating schools had increased.
  • Returns from 63 per cent of schools revealed that 33,706 students in Year 10 in 2003-2004 were participating in IFP. This represented around nine per cent of the Year 10 cohort in these schools. The average number of participating students in a school was 26. If this average was the same in schools that did not respond, then there would be around 53,000 students, in total, participating in IFP. This would represent nine per cent of all Year 10 students.
  • The majority of students were taking their courses away from the school site. Most (64 per cent) attended a Lead Partner for at least one of their qualifications and 39 per cent attended other organisations, most of which were schools (30 per cent).
  • Half of the students (50 per cent) were taking new GCSEs in vocational subjects, which was a noticeably smaller proportion than in cohort 1, when 58 per cent did so. Greater proportions were taking other VQs (24 per cent), NVQs (19 per cent) and GNVQs (11 per cent) than was the case in the first cohort.
  • Students were working towards qualifications across a range of vocational areas. The most common areas were ICT, engineering and motor vehicles, and care and childcare. The proportion taking ICT-related qualifications was lower than in the first cohort and the proportion taking engineering was greater.

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