The introduction of applied diplomas for 14-19-year-olds from September 2008 in England is leading to increased numbers of young people of current school age (14-16) attending further education (FE) colleges, where aspects of these new qualifications are taught. Although students aged 14 and 15 have previously attended FE, the numbers involved are now set to be larger. However, traditionally, initial teacher training (ITT) for FE has focused on adult learning and prepared trainees to work with more mature students. This article draws upon existing literature as well as empirical data from small-scale research into the circumstances and perceptions of staff and 14- and 15-year-old students at college. Deriving from this, it makes some tentative suggestions for how teacher trainers can respond to younger students in FE and so better prepare their trainees. However, any such response and the impact it may have is constrained by the political and social context for FE in England and specifically by the tight control the government maintains over teacher training in FE. This current strategy ignores the complexity of FE, so this article argues for a more radical transformation of ITT, based upon the concept of learning cultures, to enable and encourage new teachers to make professional judgements relevant to the particular circumstances of their own students
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