From education to employment

Every Child Matters and Case Studies for Pathfinder

With regards to the Every Child Matters reform agenda, what comes across as striking ““ according to the report – are “the possible changes in the provision of information, advice and guidance, etc, as a result of the proposals in Youth Matters (DfES, 2005d) with potential implications for the roles of Connexions, local authorities and individual institutions.”

On a more general level, the report finds that ” some participants continued to see tension and lack of consistency between the focus on partnership and collaboration within some policy strands and that upon institutional autonomy in others, especially in the Five Year Strategy (DfES, 2004b) and the Schools White Paper (DfES, 2005c).”

In-depth case studies of a sample of fourteen 14-19 Pathfinders (including Coventry, Southwark, Hampshire) and partnerships not funded by the initiative (East Devon, Bradford), were undertaken. These were selected to “reflect different approaches to providing a coherent 14-19 phase; a geographical spread of pathfinders; pathfinders operating in different socio-economic circumstances; pathfinders operating in areas with differing mixes of schools, colleges and training providers; pathfinders with differing histories of collaboration.”

Overview of Change

The report also has details on the costing study which was undertaken by York Consulting (Rix and Cowen 2006), which will be addressed on FE News shortly. The findings of an overview of curriculum change in the 14-19 Pathfinders show that the strong emphasis which 14-19 Pathfinders have placed upon broadening the curriculum and promoting innovative vocational learning. Most have also sought to engage with the promotion of work-related learning.

The other three curricular elements were engaged in by only about half or less than half of the pathfinders responding to the survey. The report devotes a section on learner identities, as students have seen to perceive themselves as different sorts of learners. This is not only to do with the increasing range of subject options or “learning careers,” as the report states, but also to do with they types of learners coming to the fore today.

The report provides examples of “excellent or failing learners; with the growth in the popularity of learning styles inventories they may see themselves as cognitive, kinaesthetic or holistic learners; they may see themselves as learners who perform well in formal examinations or on coursework assessment. Learning identities are not fixed but may be influenced by a whole range of in- and out-of school experiences. They also interact with other identities ““ for example, gender, ethnicity, social class and lifestyle identities.”


This extensive report devotes itself to a whole range of issues that arise in 14-19 education and training. It consequently ends with many findings, from which a selection are mentioned here. Firstly, “the emergence of the concept of a 14-19 entitlement in many areas” and a ” broader, more relevant curricula giving learners greater choice and access to a much wider range of sites and modes of learning leading to increasing curricular differentiation from age 14.”

Secondly, “the establishment of organisational infrastructures which supported collaborative working, as well as the development of staff with networking skills facilitating collaboration within the 14-19 phase.” Thirdly, “the importance of strategic vision and being able to see the “big picture” when developing broad-based collaboration;” “ways of exercising leadership in order to build consensus and partnership which can be translated into practical activities.” And finally, “the importance of the effects of different institutional structures, interests and ethos upon collaborative development” needs to be worked on.

Further Progress

In terms of further progress, the report finds that the experience of 14-19 Pathfinders has much to contribute to the process of establishing 14-19 partnerships throughout England. A further understanding of the local context is needed, particularly “the ways in which policy levers can be used to maximise those factors which enable collaboration and minimise those which constrain it.”

Pathfinders also have experience in attending to the issues which arise around “student entitlement and attempting to ensure that all students have access to all learning opportunities within a defined area.” The good news is that Pathfinders have contributed very significantly to the development of vocational learning and have generated broader experience of a wide range of learning including courses accredited as NVQs, applied GCSEs, GNVQs, BTECs, AVCE, etc.

In conclusion, the report believes that “given the diversity of institutional arrangements and stakeholder interests, it is important that the work which is undertaken in terms of planning and provision is mutually supportive and driven by a common vision rather than being divisive or dominated by particular concerns or agendas.”

Sudakshina Mukherjee

What does the monkey think? Find out in From the FE Trenches!

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