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Ten years on from the introduction of direct entry for 14- to 16-year-olds in college, FE Week hears of its transformative impact on learners. But inequitable funding and reputational damage have led to a postcode lottery for the provision and prevented the policy hitting the heights first envisioned

Cath Sezen is unequivocal. “Where it does exist, it offers a great opportunity for young people who really want to study a vocational area and some young people for whom school hasn’t quite worked. Without it, there will be a big gap in provision,” she says.

Sezen, interim director of education policy at the Association of Colleges, is talking about direct entry provision, where colleges enrol and teach students aged 14 to 16 where a mainstream school is not the right answer for them.

Announced back in 2012 by the coalition government, the policy was a response to the Wolf review and aimed to help those for whom a vocational route was more appropriate, and in turn, hoped that would help improve those students’ academic subject performance too.

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