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Study Programmes in colleges for 16-19 year olds were first introduced in 2013. Introduced to ensure that learners were given access to an ambitious and holisitic programme of study, Study Programmes are now a mainstay of education and training provision in Colleges and other post-16 providers. But what does a good Study Programme look like? Here are ten considerations for managers, taken from best practice across the post-16 sector.

  1. Make sure that the Study Programme matches the career aims, starting points and learning preferences of the learner. An obvious point. The shift in funding from course to learner in 2013 was a good one – meaning that providers can tailor the provision of a Study Programme to the needs of 16-19 year olds. Make sure that your IAG and initial assessment is done well so that you can be sure that your learners are on programmes of study that best reflect their aspirations and starting points.
  1. Make sure the focus is on the intended destinations of the learner; it’s no longer all about the achievement of qualifications (though of course this is still important). Ask yourself ‘what is the intent of our Study Programmes’ for young people? What will a Level 2 learner have at the end of a year with us that will enable him or her to progress, then work back from there.
  1. Liaise with all stakeholders in the design and implementation of the curriculum. What part do employers play in selecting the units of a particular qualification? How do you work with employers to ensure a seamless fit between theory and work experience? Do you speak to universities about what they need in their students and plan for these qualities in your Study Programme offer?
  1. Make sure all learners benefit from work experience opportunities; and remember that work experience is broader than just a placement. How does work experience, in all its forms, make your learners more employable?
  1. Make sure that plans are in place for learners to develop English, maths and digital skills across the curriculum. Qualifications are just one way in which you can evidence the development of these skills. But they aren’t the only way. How is your curriculum helping all leaners to develop those skills which will allow them to successfully take the next step, whether that be into employment, an apprenticeship, or a Higher Education course?
  1. Build opportunities for learners to develop embedded skills and to commit learning to long-term memory. These things don’t just happen – they need planning and the success of this planning needs reviewing at regular points throughout the year.
  1. Manage quality well. Make sure that you know the predicted course outcomes and other quality indicators that sit outside of qualifications (e.g. the mastery of skills and targets). Intervene quickly and robustly where in-year risk is identified.
  1. Don’t forget that all the wrap-around support is just as important as taught delivery. Make sure that your tutorial provision for example promotes understanding of how to stay safe and lead healthy lives and includes time for learners to regularly review progress with their tutors.
  1. Communication with parents and other stakeholders is crucial. Keep lines of communication open and don’t just report when things are not going well – regularly identify and celebrate success.
  1. Don’t underestimate the power of voluntary activity and part time employment. Enrichment creates a fertile ground in which personal and employability skills can be nurtured. Social action is a powerful enrichment tool, connecting learners with a wider sense of community (potentially enhancing diversity and cultural awareness). Seek to capture what it is that young people are doing with these extra-curricula projects and weave this wherever you can into Individual Learning Plans.

Read more about 16 to 19 study programmes in this guide on the GOV.UK website. You may also like my blog Delivering great teaching in the Further Education and Skills sector: Ten tips for teachers and assessors


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