Harrogate College will be one of the first Further Education centres in the country to offer full-time spaces for 14-year-olds from September.
The college, part of Hull College Group (HCG) hopes offering 14-16-year-olds the chance to complete their GCSEs alongside vocational or work-based qualifications will improve employment opportunities for young people in the area.
Youngsters will complete academic exams as well as seeking qualifications in a chosen specialism, such as engineering, sport or health and social care.
It is one of 293 Further Education (FE) colleges across the country granted permission to do so as a result of the government’s response to a report by Professor Alison Wolf last year which urged authorities to encourage young people to take up vocational qualifications before the age of 16.
At present, 14-16-year-olds can take be taken in to the college part-time, normally one day a week, however, from September, students will be able to follow more closely a specialist interest.
HCG Chief Executive Designate Gary Warke is a member of the national 14-16 College Implementation Group, and confirmed his hopes that the inclusion of full-time students from the age of 14 would hand more chances to young people, as well as inspire growth in the college itself.
He said: “Young people at 14 want to have a choice, but they have to be working towards qualifications alongside a career they have an interest in.
“It is something that will keep them engaged, and offer more chances of gaining employment.”
Commenting on the difference between what the college will offer and what is already available to Harrogate pupils in the town’s schools, Mr Warke said: “The decision will ensure young people in the Harrogate area have access to the best possibly educational provision and the freedom to pursue a pathway which is right for them.
“Harrogate College is proud to be among the first colleges to be given the green light to recruit from age 14.”
He continued: “The schools here are very strong and high-performing, but I think it will be popular in Harrogate, I see this as another option for students and their parents to complement academic success.
“We have a dedicated environment for 14-16-year-olds in Hull, and we wish to create that here. Certainly, we will have to expand in the future.”