A report by Golden, S., O’Donnell, L. and Benton, T, commissioned by the Young People’s Learning Agency
This report assesses the outcomes of the Young Apprenticeships (YA) programme for pupils in the third cohort who participated in the programme between September 2006 and July 2008. The programme aimed to provide Key Stage 4 pupils with the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills in a specific vocational area with a view to gaining a Level Two qualification. It involved pupils spending at least two days per week in a different learning environment, and aimed to give support and guidance to enable them to pursue further education, especially apprenticeships. Partnerships were established to deliver relevant training and work experience.
For this evaluation, data on individual learners was taken primarily from these partnerships and compared with data from the National Pupil Database.
Importantly, YA programme participants achieved more than similar non-participating students, as had been seen in the previous two cohorts. However, this difference was less than that achieved by pupils in cohort 2.
Pupils in the third cohort achieved the programme aim of 80% attaining a relevant Level 2 qualification, although there was considerable variation in attainment between different sectors with the best results obtained in science and performing arts. Combining programme qualifications with their other Key Stage 4 achievements, 78% of pupils achieved the equivalent of 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE (compared to 63% of non-YA pupils in the same schools and 64% nationally. Lower attainment and progression for discontinuing students suggests the continued need to ensure adequate provision of support, advice and guidance before and during the programme (particularly for female students, those with lower key stage 3 attainment, those on the SEN register and those eligible for free school meals, who were at greatest risk of discontinuing). Achievement rates differed between sectors and subjects of study and for different types of qualification- GCSEs had the highest achievement rate with all GCSEs taken through the YA programme achieved, while lower proportions of NVQs (77 %) and other qualification types were achieved.
Of those whose post-16 destination is known, the majority (95 %) of young people who completed the YA programme progressed into further education or training and 19% had progressed into an Apprenticeship which is comparable to the previous two cohorts (21 % in Cohort 1 and 22 % in Cohort 2) but remains below the original programme target of 50% of participants. Participants in the construction, hairdressing, motor industry and engineering sectors of the programme made up 80% of young people progressing to Apprenticeships. Lower likelihood to progress onto an Apprenticeship was associated with the following factors: discontinuation, being female, of ethnicity other than white, having taken a BTEC qualification and having studied in business administration, health and social care or sport.
In conclusion, the report reveals results comparable to those attained by previous cohorts, but examines possible areas of improvement to prevent discontinuation and encourage progression into Apprenticeships.