Evaluation of Connexions Engagement Projects in Bristol – 'Choices' and 'Learn2Work' (2005-2007)

Contacts: John Dwyfor Davies, John Lee, Kathryn Last

Sponsor: Connexions West of England

There is real concern within the education system about the plight of young people who fail to engage with education or training. The evidence available points to the likelihood of these young people failing to secure or to sustain reasonable employment. In an attempt to ameliorate this situation, local authorities are exploring alternatives to traditional schooling in the hope that persistent non-attenders can be supported to reengage with the education system. As part of its remit of for the well being of all young people, Connexions West of England has developed a number of strategies. Of these, they wish to evaluate the efficacy of two programmes, namely 'Choices' and 'Learn2Work' and have commissioned the University of the West of England to undertake that task and to produce recommendations for future action by Connexions and other agencies and organisations. Both programmes are targeted at poor school attenders.

'Choices' is a locally run and funded programme designed to reengage year 11 pupils whose attendance rate at school has consistently been less than 20%. Participating pupils are removed from the school register with the agreement of the parents and they are expected to attend the alternative programme for five half-day sessions each week. One of the main aims of the programmes is to increase individual attendance to above the 20% figure. Whilst on the programme, the young people are expected to study for the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Qualification and an ASDAN award.

The programme provides a range of daily activities so that young people can select their own personalised learning programme from the choice available. Connexions commissions provision based on a combination of its own knowledge of providers together with requests from young people on the programme.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) funded 'Learn2Work' for two years. It was designed for year 10 students who are not achieving to their potential but are not persistent non-attenders. The programme was a pilot for part of the new 14 -19 vocational curriculum, and was designed with the view that pupils will obtain a qualification through vocational experience. Through the programme, young people who meet the selection criteria were offered the opportunity of work related experiences. It is anticipated that as a result, the young people involved can be stimulated to sustain their engagement with education and improve their attendance records.

The evaluation report was published in September 2007.

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