Fears over school pupils on courses

April 19, 1996

I write to place your front page article, "Colleges plan to enrol children" (THES, April 5) in perspective.

The initial enquiry (to me) related to the Dearing report and in particular my attitude towards disaffected school students transferring to colleges at the age of 14. I indicated that although the broad thrust of Dearing's conclusions were sound, and should be supported, I had serious concerns at the prospect of colleges' taking primary responsibility for the education of pre-16 students.

I am not proposing that 14-year-olds should be enrolled on to college courses, and have major reservations about this suggestion.

Airedale and Wharfedale College's discussions with Leeds Metropolitan University about a possible continuous foundation (or even pre-foundation) to degree programme are at an early conceptual stage. In fact, they stem from just one meeting between the university's vice chancellor and myself and our senior colleagues. I stressed to Alison Utley that such a programme "at its most radical" could involve students as young as 14. In such a scenario it would be my firm view that schools would be full partners and would be the main provider of education pre-16.

CHRIS PRATT

Chief executive Airedale and Wharfedale College

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