Headlines: July 23rd, 2003

Steps taken by Local Education Authorities to improve pupil attendance are helping to increase the numbers of students staying in education after they reach 16 according to a report from the Office for Standards in Education. The report, ‘Supporting Education for Students aged 14-19 Years’ looks at the work of 12 authorities across the country.The inspectors found that LEA monitoring of schools’ performance in relation to 14 to 19 year-olds is steadily improving and all of the authorities studied in the survey provided at least satisfactory support to help schools to manage the education of this age group.

The report, though, recommends that more needs to be done to help LEAs understand the varied and complex sources of available funding and it says there is an important link between the use of funding and students’ attainment and progress.

The inspections, carried out between May and December last year, found too little attention had been paid to challenging the achievements and progress made by young people and inspectors found that few authorities had set out a well defined vision of the skills, knowledge, attitudes and attributes students needed by the age of 19. This failure, they said, had a negative impact on longer-term planning.

Other findings include all the LEAs having developed effective networks and strategic partnerships to support 14-19 education; many view their support for 14-19 education as an integral element of plans for urban or rural regeneration; LEAs report that efforts to support 14-19 education are being hampered by funding and recruitment difficulties; most of the LEAs have embraced the government’s “Increased Flexibility Programme” and have encouraged and supported its implementation; LEAs successfully support a wide range of initiatives aimed at improving the skills and knowledge and raising the self-esteem of the most vulnerable students.

The 12 LEAs inspected serve a range of rural,urban, metropolitan and inner city areas andtogether, they are responsible for over 200 maintained secondary schools, of which over half have sixth forms, and more than 20 pupil referralunits.