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Last Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007, 12:01 GMT
Hairdressing 'not just for girls'
Vocational areas tend to divide on gender grounds
Apprenticeships courses in areas such as hairdressing are not just for girls, and providers must do more to tackle gender stereotyping, Ofsted has said.

Most of the 14 courses Ofsted visited in England in 2006-07 were dominated by one gender and more than half had no policies in place to tackle this.

Only girls studied hairdressing, health and social care and only boys studied engineering or motor vehicle courses.

But overall the Young Apprenticeships, launched in 2004, continued to improve.

'Interest captured'

The gender stereotyping persisted throughout the scheme, Ofsted said.

It should be tackled rigorously in the different vocational areas of the programme.

Inspectors did praise small gains being made in some courses.

They cited the example of efforts made on one construction apprenticeship - an area which has traditionally been a male preserve.

The course provider recruited and retained two girls, out of a total of 15 students who started the course.

Staff had been trained to work with girls and the girls were encouraged to work in teams independent of each other, Ofsted said.

'Great strength'

"As in previous years, teaching motivated students, captured their interest and developed their study skills effectively," the report said.

Students' personal development had been a "great strength in the programme" and the leadership and management of partnerships had improved since the last inspection in 2004-5.

However, inspectors urged providers to use data on students' abilities to set them more challenging targets.

They should also use individual learning plans more effectively, the inspectorate said.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "Gender stereotyping, in terms of expectations of young people and their parents, is an issue for all industry sector-specific learning."

He added that Ofsted's report was a positive one on a popular programme which was delivering real benefits for both employers and students.

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