There are two purposes to me writing a long college related entry. One: for me to get my thoughts about college and any input from others down on ‘paper’, and possibly to get into the MEN or TES randomly if someone finds my post. Two: for my friend Julia to figure out the options for her 13 year old’s schooling.
Here is my tale of woe and coolness. When I was 15 I went up to Manchester and studied at BSS Seminary for a year. During this time I did various vocational courses at MANCAT, which is affiliated with BSS for certain courses. Fyi, the courses were as follows: NCFE level 1 Working with Children; NCFE level 2 Caring in the Community; City & Guilds level 1 Catering & Hospitality. I had a great year, not without its’ difficulties but still awesome. The college aspect really suited me and I loved it. I was happy, I was studying hard, I was dedicated, I was high-achieving and I was treated like the very smart interesting adult I am. A few months after I left, I received my Catering & Hospitality certificates but there was no sign of the others. I left the college and seminary in July 2003. During the academic year from September 2004 to June 2005, I returned to Manchester, worked part-time for the same seminary and college, and did two more courses with them. These were: NVQ3 Promoting Indepence; AS Art & Design. As before, a few months after leaving I received my unit certificates for my AS Art & Design but nothing else. Regularly my former Care tutor would say things like, ‘oh they’ll turn up soon’ and ‘don’t worry’, etc. Nearly 6 years after my first courses and 4 years after the later ones, it is now March 2009. Said certificates still haven’t arrived. On February 17, 2009 I contacted MANCAT to find out what had happened to my certificates. I received a call back a few days later from a friendly member of staff. She had been as helpful as possible and tried hard to chase up my certificates. She found that according to their database I was only registered as enrolled. There is no record, according to their system, of any of my work being handed in or marked – except for my AS Art & Design, obviously. I have contacted my former tutor about this and she has suggested I talk to the head of the Health & Social Care department. I am currently hunting down contact details and will add to this entry when I hear from her.
During the course of my investigations I have found some interesting things about MANCAT floating around the internet. As a vaguely journalist-like blogger, I will link these here. In October 2003 a bullying scandal was reported in the TES. MANCAT sent a response, published in the TES soon after this. In an odd twist to this entry, I also found a news article about a professional sportsman who studied there a while back. This makes me happy, it is my alma mater after all.
I’m wondering about provision for 14-16 year olds as full time students in UK colleges. Is it a viable school alternative? Is it only for school-linked part-time projects? What are the results? How happy are the students after this? Is there much feedback out there? I’m particularly interesting in provision for this in the Greater London and Greater Manchester areas. The girl in question is currently being home schooled due to a lack of adequate school provision in her locality. Frankly to be forced into home schooling is a crying shame and I’m determined to get a better view of the options she might have. I went to a thoroughly inadequate school and had to build my education from scratch at the age of 15. I then had problems due to my non-standard qualification and lack of qualification integration for colleges. I don’t want that to happen to anybody else. I’ve had a rummage online and come up with these links. NFER press release for a report on 14-16 integration in FE/ sixth-form colleges. Useful and informative, very positive. Report summary and pdf downloads are here. Havering College (far east of London) seems to offer some good facilities, maybe they would work with home-schooled kids – details. Lincoln College (where she is currently) offers a limited range of vocational courses for 14-16 year olds, and at first glance does not specify a school connection – details.
I have downloaded some more information so may update this post in the future. I and my friend are interested in all feedback on this entry, so do comment. Thank you.