An apprenticeship scheme for teenagers offers a successful alternative to the traditional curriculum, inspectors say.
The apprenticeship schemes give pupils 50 days' work experience
The Young Apprenticeship programme (YA) was introduced in 2004 for 14 to 16-year-olds in England who wanted to study for vocational qualifications.
Inspectors from the watchdog, Ofsted, said pupils were highly motivated in almost all the schemes inspected.
But they said more must be done to encourage ethnic minority youngsters to take up apprenticeships.
Pupils on the YA scheme are based in schools and follow the national curriculum, but for two days a week they work at school or college with special trainers or in the workplace.
The two-year scheme also gives them 50 days of work experience.
'Motivation and commitment'
Inspectors visited 24 schemes between the autumn of 2005 and the summer of 2006.
Their report found the programme gave a "successful alternative to traditional provision".
"In almost all the partnerships, the students were highly motivated and enjoyed the programme," it said.
"They achieved well in over half the partnerships and, in particular, developed good practical skills and knowledge related to their vocational sector."
Inspectors said a strong feature was the "motivation and commitment" of the students.
But they called for schools and training providers to do more to encourage ethnic minority pupils to take up YAs and they said subjects such as engineering needed to do more to attract girls.
Miriam Rosen, Ofsted's director of education, said: "The YA programme has provided a successful alternative to traditional Key Stage 4 provision.
"In the most effective partnerships good teaching and training by appropriately qualified staff, fully developed individual learning plans, and high quality advice and guidance, all helped to ensure that students achieved well.
"For the future, YA partnerships must ensure that students consolidate and extend their learning between sessions, tackle gender stereotyping and encourage students from minority ethnic backgrounds to participate in the programme."