Less than three per cent of colleges will recruit 14 to 15-year-olds

Only seven colleges will be taking up the opportunity, for the first time, to directly enrol full-time 14 and 15 year olds in September, the Education Funding Agency told FE Week today.

Of 283 colleges which meet the criteria laid out by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock in December last year, only these seven (2.5 per cent) are planning to recruit 14 and 15 year olds full-time.

The agency declined to the name the colleges or to indicate how many students were likely to be enrolled, but said it would be publishing a list of the colleges on its website before the end of the month.

An agency spokesperson said: “We are pleased that these seven colleges will be acting as early pathfinders and will be working closely with them to learn early lessons and share good practice.”

He added: “The funding they receive will be based on the actual numbers they recruit.”

FE Week understands that more colleges are planning to offer 14 and 15 provision in 2014-15.

The criteria for direct recruitment of 14 to 15-year-olds required colleges to have an ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’ or ‘Requires Improvement’ with improving results.

Mr Hancock’s announcement last year followed a recommendation made in Professor Alison Wolf’s report on vocational education in 2011.

He confirmed his decision in a letter dated December 6, 2012 to Mike Hopkins, principal of Middlesbrough College, and Tony Medhurst, principal of Harrow College, both members of the 14 to 16 College Implementation Group, which was set up to investigate the possibilities of the recommendation.

Mr Hancock wrote that he was “delighted” with the work and findings of the group.

He added: “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.”

Colleges who do take on 14 and 15-year olds will be required to provide a dedicated area for them within the college estate, as well as separate 14 to 16 leadership.

Colleges will also be subject to an Ofsted inspection under the schools’ framework within two years of their 14 to 16 centre opening.