This January the UK Social Mobility Commission published a report, Improving attainment among disadvantaged students in the FE and adult learning sector. Their findings were based on a review of 63 studies from 4 countries.

Their findings included:

  • Programmes designed to improve attainment among disadvantaged students can have a positive impact, but some appear to only have marginal effects or no impact. While some research shows that programmes can significantly improve attainment (e.g. obtaining a Level 2 qualification), other studies found the improvement to be modest. This indicates that the programmes are only slightly more effective than ‘business as usual’.
  • Overall, the evidence on what types of intervention work to support disadvantaged learners is mixed. Much of the evidence included in this review suggests that different programme types have mixed outcomes. However, the most effective programmes appear to be those which offer comprehensive support and those that integrate with course curriculum (e.g. embedding basic skills provision in a vocational pathway).

Their first recommendation was:

  • Government should invest £20 million over five years to establish a What Works Centre for FE. The policy brief that accompanies this review provides more detailed information on this investment and priorities needed.

Click here to read the report.