Sharing Innovative Approaches to Delivering 16-19 Study
The Department for Education commissioned the Association of Colleges to undertake a project
with colleges considering the implementation of Study Programmes in their first year of delivery,
particularly looking for innovative approaches to meeting students’ needs. This project followed
a previous commission in the summer of 2013 which surveyed colleges on their development of
Study Programmes, highlighting the challenges faced and solutions to these which resulted in the
development of 12 Case Studies1
The new commission was carried out in two phases between January and March 2014. Firstly, a
survey was conducted across the college sector, which contained questions on the following broad
areas, of the project brief:
• Strategic approaches and quality of teaching
• English and Maths provision
• Work experience, and
• Employer involvement in qualification activity/delivery.
The survey had a good response rate of 33% of all member colleges and following analysis of
responses a number of colleges were approached in order to develop a set of case studies in each
of the more detailed areas below, as outlined in the project brief:
Strategic approaches and quality of teaching
1. Effective strategic changes to embed all the study programme principles.
2. Teacher/ senior leadership team experiences – what innovative approaches have they
adopted due to their new freedoms/flexibilities.
3. Delivery of work experience as part of large academic/vocational programmes and/or
within a sixth form College curriculum.
4. Delivery of work experience in subject areas where there are significant skills gaps and few
work experience opportunities, for example engineering and construction.
5. Delivery of work experience within highly deprived and/or rural areas with little access to
industry or choice of employers within the locality.
Maths and English provision
6. How FE workforce are contextualising English and maths teaching in a way that
demonstrates their relevance to students who have previously failed these subjects at
GCSE, and making use of student evaluation of teaching and learning to improve their
practices and increase attainment.
7. How providers are handling higher volumes of students, assessing their ability levels and
deciding how to prepare them for GCSEs including use of the stepping stone qualifications
of functional skills and free standing maths.
8. Successfully encouraging students who have achieved GCSE grade C in maths to progress
to Level 3 maths qualifications and Tech Level qualifications to achieve the TechBacc
Employer involvement in qualification activity/delivery
9.Achieving economies of scale regarding employer involvement as part of the students’
qualification time: how to best make use of an employer’s limited time to enrich a large
number of students’ learning.
10. Working with employers to arrive at sector specific ‘real world’ assignments/project tasks
for students to complete as part of their substantial vocational qualifications, and the role of
employers in contributing to the assessment of these.
The Case Studies
Fifteen colleges provided case studies setting out their various approaches to implementing Study
Programmes in 2013/14. A full list of colleges is provided in the Annex.
Most of these colleges set their specific case study in the context of their overall approach to Study
Programme implementation, so that the innovative practice which was highlighted should be seen
as part of their overall approach. This means that most case studies cover more than one of the
specific areas above, and in the short descriptions of each that follow we have highlighted the
other areas covered by cross-referencing to the criteria outlined above.
The Case Studies for 2014 are available in full on the AoC website1
. The purpose of this briefing is
to highlight innovative practice, some of which goes beyond the original terms of the commission
but shows how responsive these colleges are.
Each case study has been colour coded to reflect innovative approaches matched to the outlined
Strategic appraoch and quality of teaching
Maths and English provision
Employer involvment in qualification activity/delivery
The following are examples of practice designed to ensure Study Programmes are effective in
meeting their educational goals and also meeting the needs of students more widely.
Banbury and Bicester College: this is part of the Activate Learning group, which has a student –
centred approach throughout its member organisations, based on an understanding of the
motivation to learn. The main innovation here is through a highly structured approach to work
experience and the development of employability skills, through combining college-based and
work-based learning. Students are encouraged to form live learning companies. The first of these
has been developed successfully in the hospitality sector. (2) (10)
Bishop Auckland College: Curriculum planning for Study Programmes has involved whole
teaching teams, with student representation. Weekly teaching and learning workshops reinforce
staff knowledge and skills as the programmes progress though the year, shaped by student
feedback. This creates a responsive programme and the feeling that staff and students work
towards shared objectives. It has also ensured the embedding of English and Maths in the
vocational curriculum offer. (6) (10)
Blackpool 6th Form College: the innovation here is in the careful curriculum analysis done in
building Study Programmes to support students’ progress and achievement in English and Maths.
Teaching and learning are highly personalised, building from diagnostic assessment to
applications of, for example, Maths in real-world settings. A high focus is placed on staff skills and
progress monitoring. The place of English and Maths in enabling success in other examinations,
and in career success, is emphasised throughout. (7) (6)
Cambridge Regional College: This college has developed a “Passport to Success” for students,
with categories of professional and personal skills which, in addition to their main vocational
qualification, will enable students to progress to either employment or higher study. The college
has also established, at each level and for every course, a set of learner skills and competencies
which will provide both the basis of the Passport curriculum and a set of learner outcomes. (2) (3)
City College, Southampton: this college has predominantly vocational provision. The innova-
tion required was to enhance work experience for Study Programmes in ways that could provide
benefits to employers as well as to students. A new, cross-college standardised system to record
and monitor work engagement activities was introduced and branded “Work Experience +”. This
covered and logged both formal and informal experiences of the workplace, from placements to
talks given by employers. It also makes efficient use of employers’ time and resources. (3) (9) (10)
Dudley College: an effective learner voice programme has been developed here, which has helped
shape how functional skills operate within Foundation level programmes. The College also has a
successful Enrichment programme provided through effective timetabling, ranging from sport to
enhancing employability skills with external partners, including internships in high-demand
occupational sectors. Study Programmes are backed by comprehensive and enhanced staff
development arrangements. (1) (2) (10)
East Berkshire College: Students are encouraged to stretch themselves, to “expect to be
challenged”. Work experience is a particular strength and has been extended to meet Study
Programme requirements, in partnership with an external organisation deriving from the former
Education Business Partnership. Once again, innovative timetabling has created a range of
student-led enrichment activities to promote retention and achievement. (1/2) (3/4) (7)
East Norfolk 6th Form College: as part of its inclusive approach to learning the college has
developed a highly-personalised curriculum for High Needs students. This grew from a funded
action research project aimed at ensuring the participation of these students as Study Programmes
were established. Students may select from two pathways through the programme, designed to
enhance their individual learning capabilities and their vocational learning. The latter route
includes supported work placements. (2) (3) (10)
Gateway 6th Form College: to promote inclusion and address local participation concerns,
post-16, Gateway has revised its approaches to English and Maths in the Study Programme
curriculum. A better match has been created with the qualifications offered by local schools so
that students feel familiar with assessment expectations. A new diagnostic assessment software
tool was also introduced, to ensure students joined the right type and level of award. Re-focused
Enrichment activities also encourage independent learning skills to be developed. (1/2) (7) (9/10)
Leeds City College: this college took the opportunity to re-vamp its work experience programme
with a strong emphasis on progression to work, a higher level course, and access to accreditation.
Approaches to teaching and learning were also re-assessed; blended learning is being developed,
with a substantial pilot project in the Motor Vehicle curriculum. The investment in staff
development and resources here has paid off through students’’ successful completion of
programmes. (1/2) (3/4) (7)
Leicester College: as well as providing a strong core structure this college has developed a
“Personal Professional Development Programme”. This supports the development of the whole
young person, with employability skills, enterprise activities, staying safe and healthy, equality
and diversity and current affairs. As an example, an external agency enables more employers to
engage with the college. They help provide students with a realistic approach to developing
recruitment and selection skills from both the candidate’s and employer’s perspective in going for
a job. (7) (9)
Plymouth College of Art: this college provides Study Programmes with a focus on the creative
industries. The importance of Maths and English as employability skills is recognised through an
enhanced programme of teaching and learning, embedding these skills with the aid of specialist
staff. A particular innovation is focused support for dyslexia, throughout, from initial contact with
students through the enrolment process, diagnostic assessment, on-programme learning and
assignment planning. This utilises specialist approaches and software packages, as needed. (6)
Trafford College: in developing Study Programmes this college recognised the requirement to
respond to the needs of the local and regional economy, as well as those of individual students.
The curriculum has been adjusted for relevance in this respect. The college has also partnered
Career Academies UK to provide high quality opportunities for learners in key job growth areas,
including provision of paid internships, industry mentors and a weekly seminar programme of
master classes from employers. (1/2) (3-5) (9/10)
Strode College: this college provides Study Programmes predominantly for GCE A level students.
The innovation required here was strategic, at the start: Study Programmes had to be devised to
operate as efficiently as possible, whilst meeting educational needs well. A curriculum audit was
carried out, assessing provision against taught hours, recognising that new educational
requirements would potentially have funding implications. The senior management team
involved governors in these decisions, so that the implementation of Study Programmes was seen
strategically and the educational changes – and resources - required were planned for the long
Uxbridge College: the innovation here was to embed employability and employer engagement
within Study Programmes. One aspect of this was to ensure students understood that English
and Maths were skills for employability; as far as possible these were embedded. Students have
responded well. Involvement of employers in Study Programmes has included engagement in the
design, delivery and/or assessment of courses and course elements, as well as receiving students
in the workplace for full work experience or work placements. (3-5) (9/10)
Jim Aleander, 13th March 2014.
The Colleges providing Case Studies on Study Programmes, March 2014.
Banbury and Bicester College
Bishop Auckland College
Blackpool 6th Form College
Cambridge Regional College
City College Southampton
East Berkshire College
East Norfolk 6th Form College
Gateway 6th Form College
Leeds City College
Plymouth College of Art