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RADICAL EDUCATION SCHEME RECEIVES GOVERNMENT ENDORSEMENT

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In a unique move, not seen elsewhere in the country, education for 14-19 year olds in Knowsley is to change radical...
In a unique move, not seen elsewhere in the country, education for 14-19 year olds in Knowsley is to change radically, with the introduction of a '14-19 Collegiate'. This innovative approach is expected to raise levels of attainment and to encourage more young people to stay in education and training.

Knowsley MBC, headteachers, Knowsley Community College, Merseyside Connexions Service, Knowsley Compact and the Learning and Skills Council have worked together to create and develop this new initiative that aims to meet the needs of the individual student.

Under this scheme, students will be able to choose from a variety of courses at a variety of venues, based on their needs. The traditional break at 16 will disappear as students follow a planned progression route from 14-19. The 14-16 year old students will follow a full-time curriculum but not always in their own school. At least 50% of each student's time will be spent in his or her own school and many students will continue to study the full range of GCSEs in their own school. However, other students may attend courses at a new 'Vocational Skills Centre' or at specialist schools, or in the workplace. This is especially relevant in the context of the new Vocational GCSEs which become available in September 2002.

There are four unique strands to the Collegiate. These include:

- An enhanced curriculum with option choices, built around the need of individuals

- A new Vocational Skills Centre - a purpose-built high technology facility providing young people with the opportunity to study for recognised vocational qualification skills in a real working environment

- A new on-line learning environment which will use information and communication technology to support students in all aspects of their learning, including on-line modules in three of the new vocational GCSEs - Information and Communication Technology, Leisure and Tourism and Science

- A student entitlement that ensures that all students have the guidance, mentoring and personal development appropriate to his or her needs. This will also ensure that some elements of arts, cultural and work related education will be covered. Each student will have a progress file, to record their skills, quality and achievements as they progress through from 14-19 and onto higher education or employment.

In a strong endorsement of this strategy, Knowsley MBC has been awarded a£500,000 capital grant from the government to help to develop its 14-19 Collegiate. Funding is also being requested from the Learning and Skills Council to help to fund a new Vocational Skills Centre, which will be based in Kirkby.

Jim Keight, leader of Knowsley MBC, is fully behind this step change in the way education is going to be offered to the young people of Knowsley. He commented: 'I am delighted that the government is supporting our innovative strategy with this new capital grant. We see young people as coming first within the education agenda and our 14-19 Collegiate aims to build the curriculum around their needs. It will be a much more flexible system for young people and will offer them choices and opportunities for the future. The new system will also provide a proper framework and guidance which ensures that every individual receives support to help them reach their full potential.'

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