During 2009 and 2010, students who attended ILAFS (formerly HEFA) in 2008 and 2009 and moved beyond compulsory education age were tracked in order to assess the choices they have made regarding their continuing education. To date it has been possible to elicit responses from c.350 former ILAFS participants.
Schools attended by pupils participating in ILAFS in 2008 and 2009 were contacted in order to track pupils' post-16 destination and current educational plans, with individual named forms sent to each school for each pupil. Responses were received regarding the destination of approximately 1/3 of participants. In many cases, it was not possible for schools to obtain or to pass on information regarding students who were no longer studying in the same school from which they had attended ILAFS. The limited size of this response makes statistical analysis of problematical: it is recognised that students who have left full-time education may be less likely to be contactable, and it is accepted the 1% figure for these categories is (sadly) unlikely to accurately represent the reality of all former ILAFS students. That said, returns were also very low from schools in counties where post-16 education is primarily delivered via sixth-form and FE colleges rather than secondary schools, where pupils cannot be tracked from year 11 to year 12. Anecdotal reports from staff at all schools indicate that high numbers of former ILAFS pupils do continue to sixth-form learning, mostly to 'A' levels in preparation for university application. From those students for whom completed longitudinal tracking forms have been received, it is notable that the percentage of former ILAFS pupils who have ultimately committed themselves to study for 'A' levels (88%) is higher to that indicated in post-ILAFS feedback from 2009 and 2010 (83%), and very close indeed to that given for numbers intending to stay in education post-16 (89%), suggesting that the actual choices of ILFAS students at the end of year 11 may well be fairly accurately predicted by the statements given in post-ILAFS feedback.
Learners who previously attended ILAFS were also invited to indicate what their post-18 educational aspirations were, in order to find out what, if any, subject they were intending to study. The range of responses was very wide, including: Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Astrophysics, Biology, Civil Engineering, Classics, Computer Animation, Computing Science, Criminology, Economics, Forensic Science, Engineering, English, English Literature, Environmental Science, French, Food Technology, Geography, Geology, Graphic Design, History, Italian, Journalism. Law, Marine Biology, Mathematics, Medicine, Meteorology, Midwifery, Music Journalism, Music Production, Nursing, Palaeobiology, Pathology, P.E., Philosphy and Ethics, Politics, Physics, Psychology, Science, Social Work, Sport, Sports Psychology, Teaching, Textiles, Veterinary Science and Zoology. The subject the largest number of students were interested in studying was Medicine (21).
Longitudinal tracking of ILAFS participants also provides an opportunity to assess the loner-term impact that former participants felt that ILAFS had had on them with the benefit of 18 months hindsight. A selection of their comments are as follows;
"It was an interesting experience that gave me new skills and improved my teamwork." (DB, studying 'A' levels in Biology, Business Studies, Maths and Physics)
"A thoroughly enjoyable trip and a useful life experience." (PM, studying 'A' levels in Maths, Further Maths, and Geography)
"It was extremely fun and I would recommend it to anyone. Please let me know if there are any more going on." (CT, studying ‘'A' Levels in Art, Business & Economics, German, Maths and Physics)
"Interesting and organised. Cambridge visit proved useful." (AM studying 'A' Levels in Chemistry, Maths, Music Technology and Physics)
"It was fun and not boring (like on tv!). Fascinating how little bits of pottery can be so old and tell you so much. Once the assignment was completed I felt a real sense of achievement." (TR, starting a vocational qualification in engineering)
"It was fantastic. A good experience and would really love to do it again." (AM, studying for 'A' levels)
"Everything was well organised. Meeting students at Cambridge and them taking us around meant I saw that studying at Uni could be fun - not all lectures - and this took a weight off." (FD, studying for a vocational qualification in animal management)
"Just thought it was brilliant. Wish I could do it again." (SC, studying 'A'’ levels in Human Biology, Resistant Materials, Psychology and Sports Studies)
"It was a good experience and I learned a lot of new things." (LC-A, studying 'A' Levels in Art, Biology, Critical Thinking, Economics and History)
"I absolutely loved the trip and thought the trip to the university was really fun and taught me so much." (GK, studying 'A' Levels in Art, English, Performing Arts and Theatre Studies)
"It was a good occasion and helped with team work." (SR, studying 'A' Levels in Biology, English, Maths and Public Services)
"I got a lot out of it and enjoyed doing it. I learned to work with other people." (LM, studying 'A' levels in ICT, Physics, Product Design, Maths and Further Maths and planning to study architectural or civil engineering at university)
"It helped me to make my decision on whether or not to go to university." (SG, studying 'A' Levels in Biology, Business Studies, German and Health and Social Care, planning to study Biology at university)
"It made me think about staying on for A-Levels and going to university." (AW studying 'A' levels and planning on studying engineering at university)
"The academy was both educational and rewarding. I really enjoyed myself and would like the opportunity to do something similar again." (MS, studying 'A' Levels in Drama, English Literature, Geography and History and hoping to study English or History at Cambridge University)
"Was really great to learn about archaeology and the history about Coddenham. it was amazing to go to Cambridge University and see the Colleges. Really loved it." (CS, studying 'A' Levels in Biology, Chemistry, German, General Studies and Maths and planning to study forensic science at university)
"I found the field academy very informative and it opened an interest into history related careers, possibly a history teacher. I found that two days on site was well spent." (GP studying 'A' Levels in Critical Thinking, Geography, History, Law and Maths and planning studying law or history at university)
"Really well done, cannot praise it enough! Had an absolutely fantastic time. Very well organised and the 'experts' were very inspiring. Very satisfying to find some actual artefacts! Have inspired me to take a degree in a history related subject and possibly become an archaeologist." (JM studying 'A' Levels in Classical Civilisation, English Literature, Geography and History and planning to study History or Archaeology at university
"It was really good and gave me more thoughts about university." (AC, studying 'A' Levels in Business Studies Chemistry French Maths and Further Maths and planning to study Maths at university)
"It was a very, very enjoyable experience, one that I would not otherwise have chosen to do myself, but I'm glad that I was chosen. It was thoroughly enjoyable!" (PB studying 'A' Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Psychology and planning studying medical science at university
"It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about life at university." (WK, studying 'A' Levels in Biology, Chemistry, English, Maths and physics and planning studying medicine at university)
"The field academy was really enjoyable and it gave me the confidence that I needed" (LB, studying 'A' Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and German)
"It was a great opportunity to meet and make new friends. I'm still friends with them now!!" (LK studying 'A' Levels in Geography, Maths, Psychology, English Language and Photography)
"It was a brilliant week and I enjoyed it so much. I learnt a lot about life in general and found out about university." (CV, studying 'A' Levels in Physics, Spanish and English)
"It made my choice of going to University definite. I would recommend it to everyone." (RA, studying 'A' Levels in Sciences and Maths)
"After my experience in Cambridge, I am more determined to go to university. And it has helped me choose what sort of things I would like to do in the future and has taught me about the wide ranged of doors which are open for me." (FB, studying 'A' Levels and planning studying textiles or journalism at university)
The longitudinal tracking demonstrates the wide and lasting educational and aspirational benefits of attendance at a field school, in terms of the elevated educational destinations of former ILAFS participants, their considered opinions of the impact it had on them, and the subjects they are interested in studying at University.