Headlines: July 11th, 2003

Fourteen local authority areas are to begin testing the delivery of education and training for students aged from 14 to 19. The areas have been chosen following the success of 25 pathfinders launched last year to pilot government improvements in provision for the age group.From September young people in the 14 areas will be given more choice and flexibility to follow pathways that suit their skills and enable them to fulfill their potential. As well as building on what has already been done the new areas will be expected to test 14-19 education and training in radical and innovative ways.

The authorities awarded pathfinder status for the next year are Derby City, Durham, Hampshire, Islington, Lewisham, Norfolk, the City of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Sheffield, Somerset, Tower Hamlets, Warrington, the City of Westminster and York. They will share the 16 million pounds which has been made available this year to cover the costs of all 39 pathfinders. Half the money has come from the Department for Education and Skills and half from the Learning and Skills Council, which manages the pathfinders jointly with the department.

School Standards Minister David Miliband said the new pathfinders would deliver 14-19 education and training in radical ways such as maximising the full potential of e-learning, engaging employers in innovative ways, and addressing the skills shortages in specific professions. In Durham, for example, work will be aimed at tackling a skills shortage in the construction industry. Warrington’s pathfinder will introduce a health scholarship programme and Tower Hamlets will work with City firm Deloitte and Touche to equip young people with the skills and qualifications needed for employment in the retail sector.