Frustration as post-16 learners once again put at a disadvantage

ColegauCymru has noted with frustration the Welsh Government announcement to extend the Review of Post-16 Learner Travel.

Now aiming to complete the Review in March 2021, with a planned consultation on learner travel guidance delayed until the findings have been made clear, this potentially adds a further 12 months of uncertainty for post-16 learners, particularly those in an FE setting.

The current scope of the Review specifically looks at the 16-19-year old age group. This will now be expanded to include 4-16-year-olds. To add the statutory school age to the Review is to dilute the focus on the further education sector.

Chief Executive Iestyn Davies said,

“We firmly believe that the lack of parity in provision amounts to structural bias against the FE sector. This masks institutional bias where the educational needs of 16-19 year old vocational learners, in particular, are still being ignored.”

Wales already lags behind England where there is mandatory provision for learners between the ages of 16-18 to engage in full time education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship. The lack of similar provision in Wales is magnified by Welsh Government’s July publication of figures showing an increase in NEET learners (not in education, employment or training) since 2017.

We feel strongly that the discretionary approach to post-16 learner travel arrangements by Welsh Government is a considerable problem and are concerned that apprenticeship learners are not being considered at all. In 2018-19, there were 14,640 learners enrolled in a work-based learning programme with no guaranteed travel support or allowance provision to enable them to reach their place of work.

ColegauCymru is now calling on the Welsh Government not to delay. They must provide college learners with the same educational opportunities and support that their school counterparts are entitled to.

Iestyn Davies concluded,

“Across the board and never more so than in recent months, we have continued to witness a lack of fairness for post-16 students in Wales. Learners all deserve the same educational opportunities and support, regardless of the education or training path they choose to follow.”

Further Information

Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET): April 2019 to March 2020 31 July 2020
Written Statement: Extension to the Review of Post 16 Learner Travel 10 August 2020
Written Statement: Review of Post 16 Learner Travel 13 November 2019

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