Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

School's out, College Is In

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

School's out, College Is In

Article excerpt

FE colleges may not conform to notions of educational institutions acting in loco parentis, but their links to employers will prove more worthwhile in the long run

I started out as a schoolteacher, and going to visit local schools takes me back. It also reminds me how different they are to FE colleges. It's not just the distinctive sound of preadolescent voices, nor the obligatory photos of year groups and sports teams hanging in reception.

The essential difference lies in the distinctive ethos of schools, summed up by the Latin phrase "in loco parentis" (literally translated, "in the place of a parent"), which legally obliges schools to exercise the same duty of care that "a reasonable parent" would. Schools are, in this respect, extensions of the home, and their pupils are organised accordingly.

FE colleges, in contrast, have always treated students as adults-in-training rather than children. There is no uniform, no playtime, no assemblies. This is not to say that colleges don't care for students - a great deal of effort and attention goes in to providing a safe and nurturing environment - but any nannying is kept to a minimum.

This difference may be causing colleges an image problem. The traditionalist trappings of education are now, more than ever, associated with high academic standards.

We have extended childhood by raising the legal age for participation in education to 19. It used to be common to have a part-time job from 13 and work full-time from 16. …

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