Junior Apprentice programme wins Beacon Award
A pioneering programme to provide vocational career routes to 14 to 16-year-olds led by Cardiff and Vale College has won a prestigious national award for sector leading Further Education initiatives.
CAVC’s Junior Apprenticeship programme beat off competition from the rest of the UK’s Further Education (FE) institutions to win the Association of College’s Beacon Award for Transition into Post-16 Education and Training, sponsored by the Skills and Education Group. This latest accolade sits alongside the Beacon Pearson Award for Promotion and Delivery of Apprenticeships Cardiff and Vale College won in 2016.
The Beacon Awards recognise colleges that have displayed imaginative and innovative approaches to teaching and learning in the UK’s FE sector. Now in their 24th year, the Beacon Awards represent the best colleges across the country that adapt to meet the needs of local employers and the career needs of their students.
Jointly funded by Welsh Government Creative Solutions, CAVC, Cardiff Council and Cardiff schools, the Junior Apprenticeship programme was launched in September 2016 to increase the number of young people in education, employment and training.
Offering Year 10 and 11 pupils the opportunity to study full-time in a college setting from the age of 14 for a future career, the programme was the first of its kind in Wales. This summer saw the first cohort of Year 11s all successfully graduate and secure a place on a higher level course at the college or an apprenticeship.
At the end of the first year, Junior Apprentices who hadn’t attended school for a whole year were achieving 90% attendance. Of the Cardiff learners who were identified as the most vulnerable when they started, 75% are no longer considered to be in that category based on their attendance, engagement and progress.
The Welsh Government is now encouraging other colleges to roll out similar Junior Apprenticeship programmes across Wales.
The Beacon Award judges were impressed by the way Junior Apprentices allows young people full time access to vocational courses alongside English and Maths GCSEs. They saw the initiative as providing a more meaningful, vocational route at a younger age that motivates and accelerates learners to progress into Post-16 provision and eventually a fulfilling career.
CAVC Principal Kay Martin said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have won the Beacon Award for Transition into Post-16 Education and Training. It is a testament to the hard work and determination shown by everyone who works on the sector-leading junior Apprenticeship programme, from college, Cardiff Council, the Welsh Government and local schools and I am hugely proud of their achievement.
“There has been comprehensive 14-16 learning pathway provision operating in colleges across the UK for the last 25 years offering many learners half-day or one-day vocational programmes. The junior Apprenticeship programme takes that model significantly further. It helps young people who might have thought that school wasn’t for them by offering alternative career routes in a fresh environment, providing challenges and chance to learn in a way they can identify with.
“We will continue to support schools while creating a culture of success and raising the aspirations for learners who are most at risk of disengaging from mainstream education.”