Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges

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1 A 157 Group policy paper Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges

2 Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges 2 Acknowledgements The 157 Group would like to thank the member colleges that provided case studies and photographs for this publication. Author Mick Fletcher. Publisher 157 Group, October Published by the 157 Group. Publication reference 157G-104. All rights reserved.

3 A 157 Group policy paper 3 Contents Foreword 4 Introduction 5 The 157 Group 6 Executive summary 8 Introduction 8 The vision 8 Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges 10 Introduction 10 The vision 11 Colleges leading change 12 The way forward 22 Appendix 23

4 Foreword 4 I am pleased to commend this important new report from the 157 Group describing the ways in which FE colleges are working with partners to help bring coherence and relevance to educational provision for young people from the age of 14. The transition to working life, particularly for the majority who do not follow the royal road through A levels to university, is increasingly complex and increasingly important. As the report notes, it is also for many an extended transition that makes a sharp division at the age of 19 both artificial and damaging. As we move into an era in which the majority of schools are independent of local authorities, there is much to learn from the experience of FE colleges. They have operated as independent corporations for nearly 20 years, yet are active partners in a range of local collaborative ventures not because they are required to be by regulation or by government agencies, but because they know it makes sense for their learners. Large and multifaceted as they are, they know they cannot meet the needs of all members of their communities alone; but working with others they can extend their reach and impact. The types of collaboration described in this paper provide models of good practice around which a new education and training landscape can be built. RSA Education seeks to realise the potential of all learners. This aim drives our Education project interests, which are focused on curriculum innovation, and the promotion of democracy and social justice in education. Our various projects and interventions reflect these agendas. In combining thought leadership with practical innovations, we aim to create a virtuous circle between research and practice. We are delighted to be working with the 157 Group on a new Commission to explore the possible consequences, intended and unintended, of raising the participation age to 18, and develop robust recommendations about how this significant policy change can have a positive impact on all learners. Joe Hallgarten Director of Education, Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)

5 Introduction The unprecedented levels of social and economic change that we are currently experiencing and the high rates of youth unemployment make it more important than ever that we help young people to make the difficult transition from school to working life. FE colleges are uniquely placed to help with that transition, as they stand with one foot in the world of education and the other in the world of work. We offer educational programmes that schools and parents recognise and understand, but also engage directly with employers, delivering skills in the workplace and helping businesses become more competitive. This short paper describes a number of ways in which far sighted colleges are drawing on those strengths to support young people in their communities. It also illustrates another key characteristic of the FE sector: its flexibility, responsiveness and willingness to engage in creative new partnerships for the benefit of learners and employers. 5 Colleges are actively engaged in supporting new types of school studio schools, where pupils can focus on a craft or skill, and university technical colleges (UTCs), where pupils receive a high quality education with a technical specialism as well as sponsoring independent academies and free schools. Colleges are providing teaching in vocational subjects for pupils from the age of 14 and acting as a specialist resource that local schools can draw on. They are supporting apprenticeship providers with training and assessment services and in some cases running apprenticeship training agencies that employ young people and place them in a job. Many colleges run employment agencies, matching jobseekers with vacancies and offering skills training to overcome any mismatch. The contribution that colleges can make is well understood locally, as evidenced by close working relationships with local authorities and higher education as well as the new local employment partnerships or LEPs. This paper is intended to increase national awareness of the great work going on in FE colleges and is indicative of the 157 Group s determination to drive policy through praxis. Sarah Robinson Principal, Stoke on Trent College

6 6 The 157 Group The 157 Group is a membership organisation that represents 27 large, regionally influential further education colleges in England, most of which are highly successful. All our members are key strategic leaders in their locality, who take seriously the role of leading policy development, and improving the quality and reputation of further education. Providing a national voice on strategy and policy for large, mostly urban colleges in England, we aim to promote change for the benefit of our members and the sector as a whole. Our members knowledge, capability, experience and commitment brings a unique breadth and depth of expertise to bear on every aspect of further education and skills. We also work together as a peer support network, and are committed to equality and diversity. We are actively promoting the development of a strong and world class college sector that not only has a transformative impact on individuals, employers and their local communities, but also makes a real difference to the economic and social well being of the nation and its global success. Together, 157 Group colleges: z turn over 1.6 billion a year z serve 700,000 learners z employ 39,000 staff z engage with 32,000 employers. Our approach z We strive to be thoughtful, flexible and responsive; acting quickly and decisively for the benefit of our members and the sector. z We promote the FE and skills sector as a whole. Committed to excellence and instrumental in resolving sector debates and issues, we adopt a pragmatic approach to delivering positive solutions and achieving success. z We are bound by a strong and unanimous commitment to using our collective knowledge, capability and experience to lead policy development, improve performance and champion the reputation not only of members but also the sector as a whole. z We seek to be critical friends and advisers to the government and shadow government, local communities and the sector itself to achieve positive outcomes for communities, employers, businesses and individuals. z We work with fellow 157 Group members, sharing expertise, ideas and resources.

7 Policy role A 157 Group policy paper Our member colleges operate within a complex and volatile policy environment, and our objective as thought leaders is to exert powerful influence on critical policy priorities. Our policy and discussion papers draw on and reflect the practical experience of 157 Group member colleges. The themes, developed over a series of debates, represent the areas of greatest concern for them as leaders of some of the largest and most successful colleges. The following policy and discussion papers are available to download from our website: z Protect services to students, by targeting cuts and embracing efficiency z Real choices for 14 to 19 year olds z Preparing colleges for the future z Learning and skills needs local leadership z Strong colleges build strong communities z Making the QCF work for learners z Colleges international contribution z Rising to the challenge: how FE colleges are key to the future of HE z Learning accounts that count z Doing more for less z Leading learning in further education z The role of local enterprise partnerships in tackling skills needs z Adult further education the unfinished revolution z Expanding apprenticeships colleges are key to employability z Information is not enough: the case for professional careers guidance z Tackling unemployment: the college contribution z Great teaching and learning. 7 Through these papers we seek to: z contribute a new, strong and relevant perspective, influencing national policy through offering workable and practical policy ideas z focus our recommendations on changes that can bring improvements for learners, stakeholders, colleges and the whole sector z raise the level of debate and discussion across the sector z recommend improvements that can be made by colleges themselves and the sector z raise awareness amongst sector agencies of their own roles. Our members z Barnet and Southgate College z Bedford College z Birmingham Metropolitan College z Blackpool and The Fylde College z Chichester College z City and Islington College z City of Bristol College z College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London z Cornwall College z Derby College z Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College z Highbury College Portsmouth z Hull College z Leeds City College z Lewisham College z Liverpool Community College z New College Nottingham z Newham College z St Helens College z Stoke on Trent College z Sunderland College z Sussex Downs College z The Manchester College z The Sheffield College z Vision West Nottinghamshire College z Warwickshire College z York College.

8 8 Executive summary Introduction The 157 Group has on several occasions set out its vision for a coherent and inclusive system of education and training for young people. The key elements of that vision are summarised below and a list of the papers where they are fully articulated is set out in the appendix. This paper goes further, however: as well as restating that vision, it shows how further education colleges are actively involved in bringing the vision about, taking advantage of the new freedoms and initiatives recently introduced by the government. It seeks to show how colleges are central to any reform of education and training for people from the age of 14. Colleges are uniquely placed to broker improved links between the worlds of employment and education. They are large enough to offer support to smaller specialist institutions, while at the same time being strongly rooted in their localities. Above all, they are flexible and dynamic institutions capable of exercising local leadership and responding rapidly to community needs. The case studies included in this paper show how FE colleges are already making effective use of new institutional arrangements to help build inclusive and responsive local systems. More could be done, however, if further barriers to effective collaboration were removed. Principal amongst these barriers is the damaging and artificial split between government departments, which results in different arrangements for those under and over the age of 19 and risks separating planning for apprenticeships from that for other routes. To overcome this, we call for a unified approach and a single line of responsibility for all forms of education and training for young people from the ages of 14 to 24. The vision The vision of the 157 Group for provision for young learners accords closely with that of the government. We believe that all young people should have: z a choice of different types of high quality provision including academic, vocational and work based learning z the opportunity to experience some vocational education in the context of a broad curriculum offer from the age of 14 z access to high quality and impartial guidance to help them make effective choices and transitions z assurance that the programmes they undertake allow effective progression either to further learning or to employment with training.

9 A 157 Group policy paper In addition, the system should: z provide value for money for the taxpayer by eliminating unnecessary duplication and minimising bureaucracy z allow for economies to be achieved through sharing back office services and expertise z engage employers in helping to shape and deliver education and training z respond to the specific needs and contexts of local communities, as well as providing transferable skills. Colleges leading change The case studies set out in this paper show how colleges are taking the lead in putting this vision into practice. They illustrate leading edge practice where FE colleges are: 9 z sponsoring studio schools, academies and UTCs and working with them to create effective progression pathways z building partnerships to reduce costs by co locating and sharing support services z developing the curriculum for those aged 14 to 16 and 16 to 19, along the lines set out in the Wolf review 1 z embedding apprenticeships as a core part of the local education and training offer for young people z levering in private investment and expertise to enrich education and training opportunities z working in partnership with others to secure effective implementation of the increase in the participation age z finding creative ways to support young learners with the indirect costs of participation in learning. The way forward As the above examples show, FE colleges are already able to take effective action to improve arrangements in their locality. We hope that the publication of these case studies will encourage those not already fully engaged with such developments to do so at an early opportunity. There are, however, some actions that only the government can take forward and which are key to securing its overall objectives. In particular, we look to the government to: z endorse the central role that FE colleges can play in helping build a varied, inclusive and responsive local offer to all young people in a locality z develop an overarching strategy for those aged 14 to 24 that fully integrates responsibility for apprenticeships with other routes for young people and bridges the artificial divide at the age of 19 z review the arrangements for financial support for this age group, including child benefit, jobseeker s allowance and learner support funds z provide greater clarity about the circumstances in which FE colleges might receive an allocation of funding for pupils aged between 14 and Wolf, Prof A, Review of Vocational Education: The Wolf Report. London: BIS.

10 10 Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges Introduction The 157 Group comprises 27 large and regionally influential further education colleges that collectively engage with 32,000 employers, employ 39,000 staff and educate over 700,000 students. Members of the group are committed to the development of an efficient, open and inclusive FE sector that delivers high quality education and training for the benefit of their local communities. Although each college in the group has a substantial reach and delivers programmes at all levels from degree programmes to basic skills, they are all equally committed to working in partnership with other organisations to provide a coherent and locally accountable system of education. The need for a coherent system is perhaps most important in relation to the transition from school to work, to which FE colleges are central. It is a phase that is increasingly seen as beginning at the age of 14, and for many people is not completed until their mid 20s. The old focus on a or even a phase of education needs perhaps to be replaced by a still wider concept encompassing progression from 14 through to the age of 24. The principal aim of this paper is to show how colleges are central to any reform of education and training for those from the age of 14 upwards. They are uniquely placed to broker improved links between the worlds of employment and education. They are large enough to offer support to smaller specialist institutions, but at the same time they are strongly rooted in their localities. Above all, they are flexible and dynamic institutions capable of exercising local leadership and responding rapidly to community needs. The paper starts by restating the vision that underpins the 157 Group approach. The key elements are quality and choice, including access to high quality advice and guidance that informs and makes choice a reality. Central also is the need to ensure efficient delivery through the elimination of unnecessary duplication and sharing of high cost facilities. Finally, the vision includes the creation of strong bridges between the world of employment and that of education and training.

11 A 157 Group policy paper The main part of the paper, however, is concerned to demonstrate how 157 Group colleges are making a reality of this vision in practice. The case studies briefly described in the paper illustrate institutional collaboration, curriculum innovation and effective employer engagement. They show how colleges are embracing new freedoms and new organisational possibilities to improve provision for learners. They also show how energetic local action is bridging the gaps in national policymaking and developing innovative solutions that meet local needs. Finally, the paper sets out a short list of proposals suggesting how colleges could be freed up to do even more. This is not a shopping list a period of austerity is not the time to plan for ever increasing levels of public funding but there are actions that the government could take that would lead to even better outcomes for learners. We believe that our vision is one that the government fundamentally shares and we simply seek to be allowed to drive it forward more effectively. The vision In 2010, the 157 Group published a paper entitled Real choice for 14 to 19 year olds, in which we argued for a system that was fundamentally driven by student choices. We are pleased that in many respects the changes that we called for have been implemented and anticipate that further reforms following the Wolf report will continue in the same direction. It must be right that it is the users of the education system students, their parents and employers who are central to shaping it. 11 Young people need a choice between continuing on an academic course, entering employment with continuing training (preferably an apprenticeship) or following a high quality vocational programme. We hope that the reforms proposed by Alison Wolf will help raise the status of vocational programmes and encourage more to consider that route. Indeed, we see the principles set out in the Wolf report as relevant to provision for those aged 19 to 24 as well as the younger cohort. For choice to be effective, there needs to be a system of impartial and informed advice and guidance. Our experience suggests that delegating responsibility for careers advice to schools will not prove effective in this respect and feel that the National Careers Service is better placed to take on this duty. Furthermore, young people need an entitlement to face to face guidance rather than just electronic access. Most FE colleges have been involved in the provision of vocational options for young people in years 10 and 11 at school and know from experience how motivating that can be. It is good, therefore, to see the development of UTCs and studio schools based on the belief that the ability to study practical and vocational skills alongside the national curriculum can raise standards. We would note, however, that similar outcomes might be achieved more cost effectively by supporting the strong links that many colleges established with schools under the Increased Flexibility Programme and which are now under threat from budget cuts. At a time of austerity, it is more important than ever that resources are used to maximum effect. That is why we support the concept of the college as a vocational hub, supporting schools and other providers through shared use of expensive facilities and back office services. Colleges can also be the focus for links between local educational institutions and employers, reducing the risk that small businesses become disenchanted with multiple uncoordinated approaches from separate schools and colleges.

12 12 Colleges leading change Colleges in the 157 Group are not just advocating change: in many parts of the country, they are actively leading it. They are seizing the opportunities presented by new models of organisation and new curriculum freedoms to take forward the vision of a coherent and high quality education system that responds to the needs of employers and individuals. The examples in this section are only a few of the ways in which colleges are acting on this agenda. Sponsoring new provision Colleges are helping shape the pattern of education in their local communities by sponsoring studio schools, academies and university technical colleges and working with them to create effective progression pathways. While the engagement of higher education institutions can help promote these new forms of school and the engagement of employers is central to their success, it is the practical experience of FE colleges in designing and delivering a vocational curriculum that can be critical to making them work. In many cases, young people will progress to a programme at their local college, whether as an apprentice or on a higher vocational programme. Others will take advantage of specialist college facilities while still based at school. Stoke on Trent College provides a good example of a college that has worked with schools and the local authority to bring about change in its area.

13 A 157 Group policy paper Stoke on Trent College Stoke on Trent College has been actively seeking opportunities to establish new models to recruit and engage the age group and has taken advantage of government proposals for new types of school. Since 2010, over 55 new mainstream schools, including free schools, have opened; 17 UTCs have either opened or are in the pre opening phase; and six studio schools have opened with 12 in the pre opening phase and 28 new applications being processed. All the new schools are established as academy trusts, companies limited by guarantee. The latest studio school applications include proposals from FE colleges, school academies and private training providers. The distinctive feature of the UTCs and studio schools is that they are designated institutions focusing on vocational subjects. The curriculum combines core GCSE subjects, the English baccalaureate, vocational diplomas and work experience. These new institutions have the statutory power to recruit at 14 years, or earlier in the case of mainstream and free schools, with admissions arrangements coordinated through the local authority and numbers on roll agreed with the Department for Education. Over time, this may well impact on the ability of further education colleges to recruit to vocational subjects at the age of 16 in their local area. 13 Stoke on Trent College has established a stand alone company, The College Academies Trust Ltd, to manage a number of academies being sponsored by the college. It is envisaged that the company will provide core services, such as finance, HR, MIS, IT, catering, staff training, and information, advice and guidance services to the academies in the group. Academies sponsored by the college include: z The Discovery Academy an academy formed through the amalgamation of two secondary schools with 1,500 pupils on roll, opened September 2011 z The Stoke Studio College, Construction and Building Excellence currently in the pre opening phase, due to open in September 2012, with 300 on roll z The Stoke Studio College, Manufacturing and Design Engineering, application submitted to open in September 2013, with 300 on roll. Discussions are taking place with the Department for Education in respect of a multi academy trust agreement to cover all academies sponsored by the college and ultimately a single governing body. Two further studio colleges are under development, and will potentially open in September In addition, primary school academy converters are interested in joining The College Academies Trust Ltd. It is recognised that these new forms of education institution, particularly UTCs and studio schools, share many features with further education colleges, for example: z vocational qualifications z academic qualifications, including GCSEs and A levels z compulsory work experience and work placements z strong employer engagement z progression to higher education, higher apprenticeships or work z personalised learning and support.

14 Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges Building strong partnerships An effective transition from school to working life can often be promoted by a close working partnership between a school and an FE college that motivates young people by offering a more practical and vocationally relevant curriculum. The benefits of offering a more practical curriculum are reflected in the government s promotion of studio schools, but collaboration with FE means that such opportunities can be available to a pupil at any school, whatever its status. The examples below, from City of Bristol College, are typical of the experience of most colleges in the 157 Group. City of Bristol College 14 Student TM was attending an inner city secondary school in Bristol. As a member of a school partnership course for the east and central area of the city, she attended a level 2 hairdressing course at college for one day a week during her years 10 and 11 at school. When TM commenced her course, she was an introverted and very quiet student. She remained within the group of students from her home school and rarely contributed in the lessons. The attendance issues apparent in her school continued at college. The first term of attendance at college was a struggle for TM and the college. During the second term, TM seemed to cope better in college. Her attendance and interest in the course became more positive. Her appearance was noticeably improved. She continued to show an increased interest in her course and was becoming a significant leader of the students in the group. TM reworked some of her assignments during the holidays between the end of year 10 and the start of year 11, without being requested to do so by the college. During the second year of her studies, TM continued to become more involved in her studies, as well as in competition work, and was willing to attend competitions during the weekend. She had also found herself a Saturday job in a hairdressing salon. During a partnership meeting, the deputy head of the school mentioned how TM had become a much more positive student in school, and this improvement was traced to her interest in her college course. TM succeeded on her course and the salon she worked for on a Saturday offered her more work, which should lead to an apprenticeship. City of Bristol College Student JP was a member of a Bristol partnership group selected to undertake a level 1 course in motor vehicle studies. There were students from five schools attending the same course. He attended college for three hours a week during years 10 and 11. Initially, he was seen as being a quiet student who lacked the confidence to socialise with the students from other schools. JP was making good progress on the practical aspects of the course, but was showing reluctance to complete his theory work. During the school s work experience week, JP attended the premises of a large, prestigious car dealership based at Cribbs Causeway. He really enjoyed his week of work experience and the workshop manager wrote a very positive report about him. A few weeks later, the workshop manager asked to visit JP at the college. The company was hoping to offer JP an apprenticeship, as long as he completed his GCSE subjects and was successful on his motor vehicle course at the college.

15 A 157 Group policy paper The change in JP s attitude to his theory work was immediate: he flourished on the course and became a positive influence on other students. He succeeded on the course and was employed by the dealership. He attended college for his levels 2 and 3, and is now a highly motivated technician working with a good employer and enjoying excellent working conditions. JP s future would seem to be bright. The recent announcement that colleges can be funded to take pupils from the age of 14 is welcome, although it is not clear how FE institutions can access the funding. These examples, also from the City of Bristol College, shows how an early transition to FE can make a huge difference to some pupils. City of Bristol College 15 Student X went to City of Bristol College having been referred by her school to follow a full time hairdressing course. She had not had a good experience at school and was judged as unlikely to achieve any GCSE passes. This was through her not being engaged in any of the subjects on offer, resulting in disruptive behaviour, which was affecting other class members. She was offered a place at the college as an infill student, joining a full time, post 16 group, following a hairdressing course. In addition, she attended sessions for maths and English. At the end of the year, she had achieved a level 1 qualification in hairdressing and level 1 passes in basic skills maths and English. This allowed her to continue at college the following year as a full time, post 16 student. She has been working well throughout this year and should achieve level 2. She can then either go on to a full time job or an apprenticeship, or access other hair and beauty opportunities. Student Y moved to the Bristol area at the end of year 10. As he was in the middle of his GCSE programme, no school was able to offer a place that would allow him to continue the studies he had been following at his previous school. It was felt that the best place for Y would be following a vocational course at college. As he had expressed an interest in the motor vehicle course, the college organised an interview with the body and paint course tutor. He was successful at this interview and joined the group in September. He has now achieved the level 1 qualification and is returning to college next year to continue studying to achieve level 2. In addition to the level 1 body and paint qualification, he achieved a welding certificate and basic skills maths and English.

16 Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges A similar example from Hull shows the success of an FE college in taking on a whole cohort of pupils from a poorly performing school. Hull College In September 2011, the Hull College welcomed nearly 80 year 10 pupils from the east of the city of Hull, following the planned closure of their secondary school. In partnership with the local authority, the college has developed a diverse range of academic and vocational programmes for this group of full time students, who will remain with the college for the duration of their two year programme. 16 The students, who have branded themselves the Energy League, in recognition of the Humber s focus on renewables, engage in all the core national curriculum subjects as well as having been able to select a vocational option of their choice. When asked, Energy League students described their experience as awesome. The Energy League has four houses (Solar, Hydro, Turbine and Tidal) and students remain in their mixed ability houses for registration, tutorials and PE. There are then five ability groups for the core curriculum subjects. Parents, students and inter agency teams all give positive feedback regarding the educational offer provided by the college compared to that from the predecessor school. The positive aspects of being at Hull College that they cite include being treated as an adult; the excellent variety of vocational options; the excellent specialist facilities; being challenged academically; and supportive and helpful staff. Current achievements z GCSE maths: 15 students achieved a pass, including four at level 2 z Level 1 numeracy: 48 students passed z Level 2 numeracy: 12 students passed z Art and design students: 13 gained an award and one gained a special commendation in the Ferens Art Gallery Winter Exhibition (local art exhibition open to all) z Attainment special award in motor vehicle studies for Energy League student. Curriculum innovation Increasingly, the task of helping young people make the transition to adult life is seen as concerned with the development of soft skills rather than academic or technical knowledge. Employers are happy to take a lead in relation to teaching the specific demands of an occupation, but expect new recruits to come with a positive attitude, be able to work in teams and show initiative. The Manchester College is among those that have been pioneering a new curriculum focused on the development of such skills to promote work readiness. The Manchester College All recent national reviews of education and training for young people, including Wolf, have identified the importance of helping young people build relationships and work effectively with others, for their own benefit and that of employers and society as a whole. Recent research published by the Work Foundation 2 found that Lack of labour market contact inhibits the development of key employability and soft skills including self motivation, time management and communication skills. Employers have highlighted a growing shortage of these skills amongst young people. Employers themselves have echoed that cry. 2 Sissons, P and Jones, K, Lost in transition? The changing labour market and young people not in employment, education or training. London: The Work Foundation (Lancaster University).

17 A 157 Group policy paper Until fairly recently though, responses to this elephant in the room have tended to take safe, familiar, traditional, routes that have been inappropriate for many young people s needs. What was needed was a leap of imagination and faith, and a break with the methods of delivery and assessment that failed to engage a large proportion of young people. The Manchester College was at the forefront of this step change when, some years ago, it worked in a small, focused partnership to develop and deliver PEARL: Personal Employability Achievement and Reflection for Learning. That leap of imagination has proved hugely successful and has helped transform the lives of many people. PEARL is a practical, hands on qualification that allows students to demonstrate not write about or collect evidence about but actually demonstrate their skills in building relationships and working with others. It is a credit to the educational regulatory establishment that PEARL is now, finally, on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) and has been recognised for its reliability, integrity and authenticity. The five themes are: 17 z self awareness z motivation z managing feelings z empathy z social skills. In themselves, these are not revolutionary issues to be tackling the difference with PEARL comes in the way in which these are treated, and even more so, assessed. Emphasis is placed on the development of skills demonstrated through assessor, learner and peer feedback, group work and discussion. Practical demonstration is at the heart, as are behaviour skills and the importance of personal and social responsibility alongside employability skills. The assessment framework enables reliable feedback and target setting, focusing on areas for development. PEARL is accredited by the GQAL awarding body, which has been established in partnership between higher education, further education and the performing arts sector here again a non traditional, imaginative grouping that has worked very well in practice. The following quotes from three young people, all under 19, who have undertaken the PEARL programme through the college, are typical of the reaction the college gets from learners and are testament to the innovative approach taken. The PEARL activities I ve done in class have helped with my skills in listening, communicating and understanding other people s feelings. By doing these activities this has helped me when dealing with my clients, communicating with them and understanding their needs and how I can meet them. Natalie nail technology student, level 3 When I first started at college, PEARL helped me to settle into the college and my course. I was able to empathise with my fellow students. PEARL has helped to motivate me in my studies and I m now undertaking a work placement. I m looking to progress to university and I ve gained understanding about myself, which will be great on my personal statement. Alex health and social care, level 3 When I first started at college, I was quite nervous. As I ve moved through my time at college, the PEARL course has helped to develop my confidence in myself and in other people when working with them. Through PEARL, I have developed my abilities in working with other people. Our group planned a new garden project and we all had different ideas. We were able to discuss our different ideas as a group and incorporate them together. Dean horticulture, level 1

18 Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges Promoting apprenticeships Colleges, as the 157 Group has argued in a separate paper (see Appendix, page 23), are central to the delivery of apprenticeships. They help prepare young people to take on such a role, help employers with recruitment, selection and training, and offer progression opportunities through higher level vocational programmes. At a time of high unemployment, when the opportunities for young people are particularly limited, the role of the college in brokering support for apprenticeships can be critical. Many colleges have developed apprenticeship training agencies (ATAs) to extend the support that they can give. Leeds City College has promoted a city wide focus on apprenticeship training through the development of the Apprenticeship Training Academy. Leeds City College 18 Leeds City College has established an Apprenticeship Academy offering a work focused progression route for young people from the age of 14 to 24. It provides a range of benefits for young people of different ages. Benefits to students 14 to 16 year olds z Enhanced curriculum offer with more work related focus z Stronger links with employers to influence and contribute to curriculum development z Improved work experience opportunities via extended school year z Increased focus on generic employability skills, including English and maths z Enhanced opportunity to develop the working mindset z Improved IAG to facilitate progression from pre to a broader spectrum of post 16 opportunities. 16 to 24 year olds z Increased opportunities for existing year 11 students of all abilities to progress into post 16 apprenticeship programmes z Increased opportunities for a broader age range of young people to enter the Academy via numerous entry points and access apprenticeship programmes z Four clear pathways for 16 to 24 year olds to access a range of apprenticeship progression routes: Preparation for apprenticeships or foundation programmes Employed status apprenticeships ATA status apprenticeships Higher level apprenticeships z Comprehensive advice centre for apprenticeship information advice and guidance for 16 to 24 year olds (and parents) z Specialist staff with expertise with regard to employment skills required from industry and a proven track record of high quality delivery of apprenticeship programmes z Greater exposure to a wider variety of employers via post 16 curriculum enrichment opportunities. Benefits to employers z Comprehensive advice centre with regard to apprenticeship enquiries z Source of job ready 16 to 24 year olds, each motivated to become an apprentice z Matching employer enquiries to existing cohort of apprentices ( the Big Match ) z Development of apprenticeship frameworks to meet new and existing skill demands z Cost effective development solutions to meet skill needs of local businesses z Assistance with succession planning z Facilitation of business growth according to the needs of the local economy z Assistance for employers in achieving their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) aims.

19 A 157 Group policy paper Benefits to the City of Leeds z Potential political sensitivities caused by the establishment of an academy with local schools and elected members mitigated by the specialism of apprenticeships z A new and coherent approach to apprenticeship delivery across the City of Leeds z A significant contribution to achieving the goal of a city without young people not in employment, education or training (Neet) z A national profile as a skills city z Help with promoting inward investment by providing a solution to future employer training requirements. Capital requirements z Less stringent demands on space and capital due to the fact that 80 per cent of post 16 delivery will be on employers premises and just 20 per cent at the academy. 19 Linking education and employment FE colleges place particular importance on their role in bringing together the worlds of work and education. They do this in many ways, including through the provision of realistic working environments, employing staff with relevant industrial experience and providing work placements and internships. Derby College has approached the task by developing career academies in the areas of engineering and construction to ensure that students complement their college studies with real experience of work. Derby College Derby College started working with Career Academies UK in 2010, to raise the aspirations of 16 to 19 year olds and improve their employability skills. The career academy model ensures that there is a consistent approach to all academies across the UK, but with the flexibility to enable schools and colleges to respond to the particular needs of their local community. The college teamed up with regional companies to launch the programme, initially to support construction students, but has now further expanded its offer to support engineering students into the workplace. A key success factor of the academy is seen as the internship, which takes place in the summer between the two years of the course. Employers provide a six week paid work placement, based on a standard working hour week in a real operating environment and aiming to use the skills and knowledge the student has learned in school or college. The internship element of the programme has been fully matched to a BTec level 3 award in work skills. Employer led visits and seminars related to course content make the career academies really successful. Additional regional and national highpoint events are also offered centrally by Career Academies UK and all first year career academy students from across the UK gather in London for A Capital Experience. Guru lectures also take place. The guru is a volunteer from business who shares their business expertise and experiences; guru lecturers help to ground the curriculum in the real and current world of work. For the Derby College engineering careers academy, the college has selected eight students who are in their first year of the level 3 extended diploma in manufacturing to take part. The students, who are all based at The Roundhouse, will benefit from having an industry mentor, attending guru lectures and site visits and will also have a paid internship at a company this summer.

20 Effective transitions from school to work: the key role of FE colleges Among the businesses supporting the programme are Ilkeston based Atlas Composites. Managing director Shaun Moloney said, Having taken on 15 apprentices over the years, I am keen to support the career academy to provide practical experience to engineering students, who are the future of the industry. Among the students selected for the career academy is 17 year old Reece Bikow from Ripley, who said, This is a great opportunity to get practical experience as part of my course and having the opportunity to meet employers to learn more about the industry. Fellow student 20 year old Tasleem Ramzan from Derby added, It is important to get extra experience and contacts to hopefully stand out from the crowd when applying for a job. 20 The engineering career academy is the second to be introduced at the college, following the success of the professional construction career academy with many of the students securing jobs with civil engineering companies throughout the Midlands. April Hayhurst, head of employer engagement at Derby College, said, Career academies are a proven way of supporting the most capable students through a work focused programme in partnership with engineering and manufacturing employers to give them a head start in the jobs market. It is also beneficial to the businesses, which gain the input of bright and eager young people who they can effectively assess before committing to offering them an apprenticeship or a job. Sue Long, regional manager for Career Academies UK, said, We are delighted to collaborate with Derby College on this second career academy. Our model for employer engagement enriches the curriculum so that students develop the critical employability skills demanded by industry in this particularly competitive market. Supporting access to education All colleges administer learner support funds that help students meet the indirect costs associated with participation in learning. Costs are particularly high for vocational students, who may have to travel to a specialist centre rather than walk to a local school; and the cost of equipment and protective clothing is much greater for those who are studying technical programmes such as hairdressing, catering or construction. Some students need help to meet basic living costs and although colleges administer bursary funds to help those in greatest need, the loss of educational maintenance allowances seems to be leading to a fall in participation of 16 and 17 year olds 3 when it should be increasing towards 100 per cent. Those in the age group risk losing benefits if they undertake substantial programmes of study, even though they are acquiring skills that will help them gain jobs when the recovery comes. To help those students that need extra financial support, most colleges add to the bursary funds provided by the government from a variety of sources. Vision West Nottinghamshire College provides an innovative example. 3 See the statistical first release July 2012.

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