Exclusive: Colleges given green light to recruit full-time 14 and 15 year olds

Exclusive: Colleges given green light to recruit full-time 14 and 15 year olds

FE Week can exclusively reveal that the Minister for Skills (above) has written to two members of the 14-16 College Implementation Group, confirming that “from next September we will now make full time 14-16 enrolment available as a new avenue” for FE and sixth form colleges.

Matthew Hancock made this landmark decision in his letter dated 6 December, which was addressed to Mike Hopkins, principal of Middlesbrough College, and Tony Medhurst, principal of Harrow College, and seen by FE Week.

Mr Hancock writes: “As you know, I am keen to ensure the best possible provision for young people that meets their needs. In some cases that means enrolling them in FE colleges full-time from the age of 14, as set out by Alison Wolf.

At present 283 colleges meet these criteria and will, therefore, be able to establish 14-16 provision and start enrolling full-time 14-16 year olds from next September”

With reference to the work of the 14-16 College Implementation Group the Minister continues: “I am delighted with your overall findings and that existing powers under section 18 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, and the application of the post-16 funding methodology will make it practically possible for FE colleges to enrol 14 and 15 year olds directly”

The Minister’s letter also includes three quality criteria (see below) “which FE and sixth form colleges will need to meet to receive funding for enrolling full time 14-16 year olds.”

“At present 283 colleges meet these criteria and will, therefore, be able to establish 14-16 provision and start enrolling full-time 14-16 year olds from next September, should they wish to do so, provided that they have assessed that they are able to meet all the legal requirements, and address any other issues, in so enrolling 14-16 year olds,” he writes.

Quality and funding arrangements for FE colleges enrolling full time 14 and 15 year olds from September 2013

  1. Colleges must be rated by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’ or ‘Satisfactory’with improving results as measured by performance data.
  2. There must be a dedicated 14-16 area within the College estate
  3. There must be separate 14-16 leadership

Inspection: And colleges will be subject to Ofsted inspection (schools’ framwork) within 2 years of the 14-16 centre opening.

FE Week understands that further details are being worked through by government officials, the Education Funding Agency and Ofsted, and are likely to be published next week.

Update:

10-12-12: The Department for Education have supplied FE Week with a copy of the Readiness to Open Self-Assessment : Click here to download

11-12-12: In response to a request for the names of the 283 colleges referred to in the letter, a spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We won’t be releasing the names of colleges. The EFA will determine whether the funding conditions have been met based on the information that is current at that time and that will change as new inspection, performance and financial compliance data emerges.”