Diverse curricula: What will I teach?
Just as the range of students in FE colleges is too wide to enable it to be described in tidy categorisations, to talk about an FE curriculum as if it were a homogeneous entity would be totally misleading. However, as the FEFC’s chief inspector has pointed out, ‘The qualifications available in further education colleges fall into one of four broad categories; that is, general education, general vocational education, job-related training, and non-vocational or leisure courses’ (FEFC, 2001:71). Such divisions are not as simple as they might at first appear because even within these broad bands there is often a wide range of courses or programmes of study on offer. Figure 3.1 presents a categorisation of FE provision into 14 programme areas. As such, it extends the model presented in Figure 1.3 in Chapter 1. Colleges may also differ from each other in the curricula that they offer because of differences in their size, culture and location. Increasingly, colleges are talking about ‘individualised learning programmes’ for students. Such programmes imply that students should be able to access learning programmes as and when they wish and in whatever location, including perhaps from the comfort of their own homes via electronic means. However, the physical achievement of such flexibility is still a long way off and its appropriateness hotly contested. It should be remembered that many students value the opportunity of learning with others and of working co-operatively, and that learning within a community can challenge the prejudices and limited horizons of learners that can easily remain unchallenged when learning becomes an entirely individual affair.