Further education (FE) colleges will be able to enrol 14- to 16-year-olds who wish to study high quality vocational qualifications from September 2013. The new 14 to 16 centres will offer a combination of high quality vocational and academic subjects and aim to attract students of all abilities who want early access to practical and technical education.
In her review of vocational education Professor Wolf found that for some young people, following a vocational route at 14 resulted in them doing better in the core academic subjects as well. She felt that an FE college1, with its links to employers, workshops and equipment, can be the best place to do that. As such, her report recommended that the department should:
Make explicit the legal right of colleges to enrol students under 16 and ensure that funding procedures make this practically possible. Colleges enrolling students in this age group should be required to offer them a full KS4 programme, either alone or in collaboration with schools, and be subject to the same performance monitoring regime (including performance indicators) as schools’ (Recommendation 19, Wolf Review of Vocational Education, March 2011).
The government accepted all of the recommendations of the Wolf review.
Under current legislation2 FE colleges and sixth-form colleges have various powers to provide “secondary education” to compulsory school age pupils.
In March, the then Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning set up a college implementation group. Consisting of experienced colleges principals the remit was ’to work with Department for Education and BIS officials to gather and share practical information about the process of 14 to 16 enrolment and to identify and help address any legislative or other barriers’ and report their findings to ministers.
The report of the group, along with a suggested readiness to open checklist provides a framework for colleges to meet their legal requirements and provide a suitable learning environment for 14- to 16- year-olds.
In line with the government’s wish to see more high quality technical education available to young people, which for some may be a UTC, studio school, free school or academy, the Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock, wrote to the co-chairs of the College Implementation Group on 6 December 2012. He announced that from September 2013, full-time enrolment of 14- to 16-year-olds in college would be a new avenue for providing technical education for this age group, and set out funding and quality conditions:
Full details on the enrolment of 14- to 16-year-olds full time in colleges can be accessed via the link to the Departmental advice article on this page.
Professor Alison Wolf said:
One of my major concerns, in my review for the government, was that as many young people as possible should have access to high quality specialist vocational courses – which means courses taught by vocational specialists.
The new freedom for colleges to enrol 14- and 15-year-olds directly should greatly increase the numbers who have such access. It complements previous changes in the rules governing who can teach in schools and I am delighted that my recommendations in this area have been adopted.
Further information is available about the Wolf report.
College leaders who want to know more about 14 to 16 enrolment in colleges should contact their funding territorial director for further information or email the contact on this page.
An email address for further information or queries is also available on this page.
Colleges that wished to offer key stage 4 provision in an environment other than a school were advised that a notification of their intent should be provided to the EFA by 30 June 2013. This notification had to confirm that the college had conducted and met the requirements of a self-assessment against the readiness to open checklist.
The 7 colleges, set out below have advised the EFA of their intent and have had their notification acknowledged. This confirms that each college meets the entry criteria as at 15 July 2013 to commence delivery from September 2013.
If there are additional colleges intending to deliver this provision, they should advise the EFA as soon as possible and by end of August at the latest.
1 Including sixth-form colleges
2 Further and Higher Education Act 1992 s.18(1)(aa)-(ac) for FE colleges and s.33E(1)(b)-(d) for SFCs
3 Letters of intents received for 2014 to 2015 academic year starts will be reviewed again within the next 12 months to ensure entry criterion is still met.
14 to 16 enrolment in colleges - information for college leaders
14 to 16 further education queries
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Information about the quality and funding of education for 14- to 15-year-olds.
Departmental advice on how 14- to 16-year-olds can enrol full time in further education ands sixth-form colleges.
An outline of the key recommendations set out in Professor Alison Wolf's independent review of vocational education.