Featured Article


Ruth Gilbert is chief executive of the Career Colleges Trust
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Last year the Government introduced legislation that would allow Further Education Colleges to accept 14-16 year olds on a full time basis.

Whilst this was seen as a very encouraging move by many, it was also met with some trepidation... would it mean FE Colleges taking on schools in the battle to fill places?

Unlike the traditional 'day release' schemes that have been in operation for many years, FE Colleges could now be responsible for the entire programme of study for 14-16 year olds, combining GCSEs in core subjects with a more vocational element.

In theory, this opened up a new world of opportunity for colleges and young people. It would provide Year 10 students and their parents with more choice and the college themselves could benefit from an additional income stream for investment and a wider range of progression routes for learners.

Indeed, Career Colleges were launched on the basis that they could take advantage of this new legislation. Recruiting students at 14 provides them with a head start within an industry experiencing a skills shortage and thus real job opportunities.

So surely, opening these opportunities up to 14 year olds can only be a good thing? Of course, there are students who thrive in a school environment but there are others who would benefit greatly from a different way of learning, specialising in subjects that are of real interest to them with a career focus. The more mature learning environment is also a real advantage for some children.

Yet just a handful of FE Colleges have taken up the opportunity. We speak to many colleges who love the idea of setting up a Career College, but are nervous about opening up to Year 10 and 11 students.

And I believe that in many cases, this fear comes from the perception that opening up 14-16 pathways will mean taking on the local schools. In a climate where budgets are tight, schools are generally unwilling to lose students before they begin their GCSE courses – particularly those who are expected to achieve good grades.

Many FE Colleges are wary about setting up such a direct challenge and concerned about what support, if any, they would receive from the Local Authority.

But asking for support from LAs is not always asking the impossible and Bromley College is a great example. The LA here is so supportive of the College that it is consulting with it on the re-planning of local provision. Bromley College has recognised that one pathway doesn't suit all and has developed multiple routes, providing the local community with learning opportunities to suit all ages, abilities and interests.

And as a result, Bromley College has had no issues filling all its places at both its 14-16 college and its pioneering 14-19 Hospitality, Food and Enterprise Career College.

In Bootle too, Hugh Baird's Career College has had similar success, with its 14+ entry being oversubscribed from the outset. The key here has been the fact that the new Career College has raised career aspirations in an area of high economic and social deprivation. Offering 14 year olds an educational pathway that will provide them with a direct route into work, led by employers themselves, is of huge value to the local community and the economy.

Using a rather different tactic, South Tyneside College has joined forces with a local, outstanding secondary school to create Career College North East – rather than setting themselves up as competition. St Wilfrid's will be delivering the academic element of the curriculum, with students splitting their time between sites. This is a progressive example of how FE College and schools can work together to provide first class, career-led education.

And in Hull, the college developed its direct 14-16 entry in the context of badly performing local schools – offering people a higher quality alternative. This could only be a positive move and the 14-16 college is, as you would imagine, thriving.

All young people have a right to high quality Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) but I am fully aware that this is not always delivered as well as it should be. Schools in particular may not be supportive of the new pathways opening up and this is indeed a challenge.

But rather than fight local schools, I feel it is more important to focus on ensuring parents are well informed about the options out there for their children. Research reveals that parents are the No.1 influence for young people, so it is vital that they understand that there truly are many paths to career success.

Many parents are worried about their children getting jobs at the end of what can be many years of education. The Career College concept is all about providing that line of sight to work early on and this is without doubt, something that appeals to parents. This is evidenced by the decline in arts enrolments in many FE Colleges; people are being put off by the fact that there is no clear pathway to work.

With this in mind, demonstrating to parents just how involved the employers are in the delivery of a Career College curriculum is essential. Employers have become involved in a wide-range of excellent career advice events, showcasing the opportunities available within specific industry and the educational routes available.

As we get ever closer to the General Election, each political party claims to be supporting the skills agenda. For example, support for a 14+ model was much in evidence from the Conservatives with David Cameron calling for a 'University Technical College in every town'.

This is good news and I very much hope that any incoming Government sees the clear value of giving all young people access to high-quality, career-focused education. This can come in many forms but it is crucial that schools and local authorities do not stand in the way of pioneering and innovative vocational pathways.

Ruth Gilbert is chief executive of the Career Colleges Trust

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Newsroom Activity

Dyspraxia Lambeth had a status update on Twitter 15 hours 35 minutes ago

@ERSA_CEO @apprenticelsbu @Edu4sj_lsbu @milton_damian @QLMentoring @EdDavie @NancyDoylePsych @HWLambeth Fears ‘lost… https://t.co/HgFJWeC60R
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page