Headlines: March 2nd, 2001

The National Audit Office has sent a wake up call to the 400 colleges of further education in England. Almost half the 3.8 million students who attend the colleges fail to achieve the qualifications they are seeking. The failure rate takes into account students dropping out of courses as well as failing to achieve the required standard. The gap between the best and worst performing colleges is extremely wide. Drop out rates vary between 98 per cent and 72 per cent, and achievement rates vary between 98 per cent and 33 per cent. The cost of further education to the public purse is about 3 billion pounds.The report ‘Improving Student Performance: How English further education colleges can improve student retention and achievement’ advocates that the student drop out rate should be tackled by closely monitoring absence and following up absences promptly and in a sensitive way. The report argues that the achievement rate can be improved by focusing on the teaching and learning processes. The quality of teaching and learning methods needs to be improved and there should be prompt, regular and constructive feedback to students on their performance. Students should be helped to develop good study techniques and be given advice on how to take notes effectively and set out written work coherently.
.Link: www.nao.gov.uk