Evaluation of Increased Flexibility for 14- to 16-year-olds’ Programme: Outcomes for the First Cohort

Sarah Golden, Lisa O’Donnell, Tom Benton and Peter Rudd; National Foundation for Educational Research

Offering vocational learning opportunities at Key Stage 4 has benefited most of those taking part in the Increased Flexibility Programme (IFP) for 14- to 16-year-olds, this evaluation concludes.

The programme, which was introduced in 2002, involves further education colleges and other training providers working in partnership with schools to offer GCSEs in vocational subjects, NVQs, GNVQs and other vocational qualifications.

The research finds the majority of the IFP students who took part in courses between 2002 and 2004 successfully gained their qualifications, with those with the lowest attainment levels prior to starting appearing to have benefited most.

Schools reported that about 90% of the students involved in the programme had gone on to further education or training after finishing Year 11. Just over two-fifths of the young people agreed that the IFP had influenced their decision to stay on in education. 

IFP students had a more positive attitude to school during their second year of the programme, with half of them saying that taking part in IFP had made them more aware of the importance of qualifications and learning.

They cited interesting course content and helpful discussions with adults as important factors during their second year of the programme. However, nearly half of those interviewed said they would have liked more help and guidance relating to matching their skills, interests and abilities to future careers.

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