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Transforming Learning Cultures in Further Education

Grant reference: L139251025

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Conference paper/presentation details

TLRP: Coming to college: the experience of vocational learning of two cohorts of 14-16 year-olds in a further education college
There is a new emphasis on the vocational in current educational discourse concerning the 14-19 agenda. More openness regarding the vocational/academic divide within education in England and Wales appears to be matched by an enthusiasm for the creation of increased vocational opportunities for young people. Research undertaken for the Transforming Learning Cultures in Further Education project has revealed that pre-16 students can value highly their vocational experiences in a further education college, but that the extent to which young people actually benefit from the opportunity to engage in vocational learning crucially depends upon the way in which such opportunities are experienced as different from ‘normal’ schooling. It has also revealed that the opportunities for such experiences are potentially fragile, vulnerable to the effects of structural change within the institution. This paper explores the impact of the further education experiences of two cohorts of Future Pathways students tracked by the project. These are Key Stage 4 students from an 11-16 comprehensive school who chose to replace one of their GCSE options with a vocational course in administration/information technology in their local further education college. Focusing on students’ perceptions, feelings and thoughts concerning their Future Pathways course, the research revealed radical differences between the experiences of the two cohorts. The paper aims to provide an answer to the question why it might be important to offer vocational options to this particular age group, and under what conditions students might benefit most from such provision. In doing so, the paper raises awareness of important issues for wider debate than is current within the 14-16 agenda.
Original Document

Primary contributor

Author J Davies

Additional details

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