HC Deb 29 November 1993 vol 233 c293W
Mr. Rooker

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what is the drop-out rate from further education colleges; and what representations he has received that dropping out is being caused by financial constraints on support for meals and travel.

Mr. Boswell

Information on drop-out rates is not currently collected centrally for colleges in the FE sector. The Audit Commission and Ofsted report "Unfinished Business" estimated that for schools and colleges the drop-out rate for 16 to 18-year-olds on full-time courses was 13 per cent. on courses leading to academic qualifications and 18 per cent. on those leading to vocational qualifications.

We are seeking to reduce drop-out from colleges in a variety of ways: by providing more information to young people to help them make the right choices at 16; by improving the range and choice of courses available, including new GNVQs and NVQs which offer high-quality alternatives to GCE A levels; and by ensuring that funding mechanisms provide an incentive to colleges not only to recruit but to retain more students.

My right hon. Friend has received a number of letters about the duties and powers of LEAs to provide free transport and assistance with travel costs to post-16 students. He has told LEAs that he expects them to monitor the effects of transport policies on participation rates overall and that he will himself keep this aspect of the new arrangements under review.

LEAs' responsibilities to provide free meals do not extend to students in colleges in the new FE sector.

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