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ESFA Update: 30 October 2019

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.


ESFA Update further education: 30 October 2019

ESFA Update academies: 30 October 2019

ESFA Update local authorities: 30 October 2019

Information for further education
Actionresponse to ESFA letter about subcontracting the delivery of education and training using post-16 funds
Actionmoratorium on approving qualifications for funding post 16
Remindersubcontractor declaration for adult delivery, including apprenticeships and traineeships, and for the first time, for 16 to 19 provision
Informationfunding methodology for the 16 to 19 discretionary bursary fund is changing from academic year 2020 to 2021
InformationESFA confirms SMEs can access the apprenticeship service from January 2020
Informationapprenticeships non-levy allocations from April 2020
Informationnew entrants applying to the register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP) are invited to test new application service
Information for academies
Actionland and building tool is open for completion by Monday 4 November 2019
Actionresponse to ESFA letter about subcontracting the delivery of education and training using post-16 funds
Reminderautumn school census
InformationTeachers’ pay and teachers’ pension employer contribution grants for 2019 to 2020
InformationPE and sport premium allocations and conditions of grant for 2019 to 2020
Informationfunding methodology for the 16 to 19 discretionary bursary fund is changing from academic year 2020 to 2021
Informationfree training for school leaders in integrated curriculum and financial planning
Items for local authorities
Actionresponse to ESFA letter about subcontracting the delivery of education and training using post-16 funds
Reminderautumn school census
Reminderlocal authorities to submit grant return and use of funds statement by Thursday 31 October 2019
InformationTeachers’ pay and teachers’ pension employer contribution grants for 2019 to 2020
InformationPE and sport premium allocations and conditions of grant for 2019 to 2020
Informationfunding methodology for the 16 to 19 discretionary bursary fund is changing from academic year 2020 to 2021
Informationfree training for school leaders in integrated curriculum and financial planning

Published 30 October 2019

Report: The Hardest Jobs to Fill Across Canada in 2019
October 31, 2019

It’s a job seeker’s market in Canada and employers are still struggling to fill roles with many positions remaining open for more than 60 days.

To get more perspective, Indeed economist Brendon Bernard shares his thoughts on the regional labour market and hard-to-fill roles.  

Specialized engineering roles in very different sectors, such as software engineering manager (#1) and senior geotechnical engineer (#2), an expert in soil, in addition to real estate associate (#3), are the three most difficult-to-fill roles, with 57% of jobs remaining vacant for 60 days or more. Rounding the top five in western Canada, we find technical program manager (#4), which also requires coding knowledge, and psychiatrist (#5) both represented 55% of hard-to-fill jobs. The latter is not that surprising as mental healthcare access and psychiatrist shortage, especially in British Columbia, have been debated in the media recently. 

According to Bernard, tech roles stand-out as taking long to fill. “Employment in the sector is growing quickly, but the strong competition for talent between employers makes filling individual roles difficult. The resource extraction sector in Western Canada might be facing tough times, but it is still difficult to find geotechnical engineers, suggesting opportunities remain, but they often require highly specialized skills.”

Bernard also explains that Western Canada highlights how labour market conditions are varying across provinces. British Columbia has made significant progress in recent years, while conditions in Alberta remain weaker than they were prior to the fall in oil prices.

Highly-specialized engineers are also difficult to find in Ontario 

Senior test engineer (#1), a tech profession that evaluates products, proves to be the most difficult to find talent for, with 58% of jobs remaining vacant more than 60 days.The most populous province in Canada also finds it difficult to find senior mining engineers, with senior geotechnical engineer coming in second on the list with 55% of available roles long remaining vacant. However, solutions engineer, which is more of a leadership role interacting with technical support and sales, comes in third with 45%.

Speciality in the health sector can also be a headache, with infusion registered nurse, who specializes in the administration of medications and fluids, coming in at number four (45%). Last year, that profession was in the top 10 nationwide of hard-to-fill health care roles. Civil designer, who deals with municipal infrastructure, completes the top five with the same percentage.

Bernard explains that the Ontario job market is showing both strengths and weaknesses. On one side, there’s been strong growth in certain higher-paying fields, tech being a notable standout. In contrast, conditions aren’t great for those without postsecondary education. 

Quebec has one of the lowest unemployment rates, so talent is scarce

In September, Quebec was tied with B.C. for Canada’s lowest unemployment rate, which is going to make it more challenging to fill lots of different types of job openings, as Bernard explains. Statistics Canada found that Quebec had the highest share of job openings remaining vacant for over 60 days in the second quarter of 2019, suggesting hiring difficulties for many roles because more of the workforce is already employed.

Because of increased demand and competition, tech is also well represented in this regional list, with software developer (#1) seeing 50% of opportunities remaining vacant for at least two months and programmer (#4) having 47% of its jobs unfilled for at least 60 days. Engineering is also a pain point in the French-speaking province with electrical (47%) and structural engineer (46%) in third and fifth respectively. One job that stands out from other regions is optician, a provider of eyeglasses and contact lenses, which is actually the second most hard-to-fill job in the province (49%), but that may become a national challenge, since the Government of Canada expects labour shortage for opticians in the country over the next decade. 

Atlantic Canada deals with high unemployment but still has trouble finding the right fit 

According to Bernard, unemployment rates in Atlantic Canada are higher than the national average. Still, it can be tough to find workers to fill a number of niche roles requiring specific and rarer skills. 

Tech talent often being attracted to major tech hubs in big cities, it makes it difficult to fill some roles in smaller areas. As such, senior java developer (50%) and senior software engineer (41%) open and close-out the top five in that region, at number one and number five. Psychologists (#2) are in high demand in that region, with 48% of roles long remaining vacant. Still in the health sector, pharmacy technician appears on the list at number four (41%) while equipment operator arrives just above (#3), with the same percentage. 

We can see that specialities are required in varied sectors across the country. This impacts different industries and company sizes who struggle to fill roles with special skills when it’s a job seeker’s market. Smaller businesses also have to contend with the competition from larger companies.

When your pool of qualified candidates is small, whether it be because of the particular skills needed or because of the high competition, you have to be able to be seen by the right candidate at the right time and to use the tools accessible to you. A few tips are: 

  • Think like a marketer and utilize your social media platforms as well as targeted advertising.
  • Become more proactive, and search resumes and contact talent yourself. 
  • Work on your employer branding and share what makes you unique and what you have to offer to those specialized professionals who, after all, have a lot of choices.


Data represents roles open for longer than 60 days in Canada during the first half of 2019 in Western Canada, Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario. While job postings can be open for longer than 60 days for many reasons, Indeed uses this measure as a proxy for difficulty in hiring. Due to data restrictions, we are unable to meaningfully analyze Northern Canada.

Virtual Meetings
October 30, 2019

While people understandably lament the lack of face-to-face contact and human interaction, it’s impossible to argue against the convenience, speed and low cost of being able to bring together a group of decision-makers without requiring them to travel. 


Issue guidelines to people about what is expected. The same rules apply in a virtual meeting as they do in a face-to-face meeting, with courtesy, respect and all other behaviours equally expected of participants. But just as with live in-room meetings avoid absolutes. 

Establish quiet spaces to hold virtual meetings. If most participants work in an open-plan environment, the ideal place to hold virtual meetings might be in a closed office, rather than distracting the whole floor with the minutiae of one meeting. 

Encourage punctuality. As with physical meetings keeping to a set agenda and managing time will improve productivity and outcomes. Research has shown that about 45 minutes is the ideal length for any meeting. This becomes even more important for virtual meetings as they can be more tiring because attendees may only have audio to go by (rather than being able to also see each other). 

Encourage people to consider their backgrounds and settings when visible on camera. This applies particularly to those who are working from home. There is nothing more distracting than your domestic life intruding in the background (just ask political analyst Robert Kelly about his disastrous BBC appearance). 


Expect too much of the technology. While the tech is now more user friendly it’s not perfect. You can’t just say ‘come in Brussels’ and have the technology understand that and show your Brussels attendees. 

Let people schedule virtual meetings without trying them out. If they were holding a big in-person meeting of course they’d check if the projector was working first. So why should a virtual meeting be any different? People should check the technology (such as the computer, cameras, phones) they plan to use on the day and load up the PowerPoint slides they’re going to show, ideally getting another colleague to check what it looks and sounds like from another office. 

Limit yourself to one vendor. While this makes sense for something like telephone systems (which are physically installed in the building) it doesn’t necessarily make sense for services that are supplied remotely. You may find that a single-vendor solution suits the users that are office based but doesn’t work well for those on the road. Therefore you may not be saving money if your main salesperson can’t bring together a project team for a meeting. 

Share your whole desktop. There is nothing less professional than attendees at a virtual meeting being able to see email notifications with personal subject lines such as ‘you left the kitchen in a mess this morning’ or ‘can you leave early to pick up the kids?’ I’ve personally attended a virtual meeting where the presenter’s internet browsing history was visible to everyone and it did not make him look professional at all. 

By Jonathan Dungan is a marketing executive at 247meeting.com 

Job Site Created for Special Educational Needs Sector
October 30, 2019

Senploy, the UK’s first recruitment website dedicated to uniting prospective employers and candidates within the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) sector, has been launched by a charity worker.

Amy Allen, who works as the lead school administrator at Cheshire’s The Seashell Trust – an organisation which supports children and adults with severe and complex learning disabilities – decided to create the SEND niche jobs site as an antidote to a myriad of generalist job sites that did not reflect the specialist needs of the sector.    

Following a year’s planning to build and launch the online platform, the 39-year-old from Wilmslow hopes that Senploy will provide an easy solution to recruiting the best possible individuals to work within SEND, saving time and money for employers in the process.

With a guiding ethos that “niche generates quality” Allen believes that the site is set to become the industry’s go-to jobs destination which will, in turn, reinvigorate the sector with an influx of high-calibre talent.

Employers, including educational establishments, agencies, care homes, local authorities and families will be able to reach experienced professionals quickly and easily via a CV database of quality candidates and will also be able to manage their own recruitment processes through Senploy’s back office function.

Meanwhile, those working in fields such as occupational therapy, special needs teaching, social work, rehabilitation therapy, speech and language therapy and developmental psychology, will be able to access a large number of relevant job opportunities on one straight-forward portal.

Senploy founder, Amy, said: “There are hundreds of generalist job websites out there, but I’ve seen first-hand how they tend to generate too many irrelevant CVs… or not enough relevant ones depending on how you look at it!

“A niche sector needs its own dedicated site, since roles within SEND tend to be extremely specialised. It takes a certain type of person with a specific skill set to work in this area. The industry as a whole will benefit from having instant access to a rich pool of candidates with the right experience and jobseekers won’t have to upload their details to hundreds of different job boards. 

“Our mission is to help cut costs, save time and promote targeted two-way recruitment – we want to simplify the entire process and breathe new life into the sector by helping to match the right people to the right SEND role. At the end of the day, individuals with special educational needs and disabilities deserve to have professionals with the right skills working with them, so that they can achieve their life goals. We’re here to help make that happen. 

Steps to Making Apprenticeships Work in a Small Business
October 29, 2019

Many small businesses think they don’t have time or resources to support an apprentice, but in fact, taking one on can help grow your business, if it’s done in the right way. 

The following article is by Anthony Impey.

Anthony Impey

As a small business owner, I know only too well that there is never enough time.

The day-to-day necessities of running a business consume every waking hour, leaving little or no room to work on those projects that you would love to do but never quite find the time. Small businesses often give this reason for not hiring an apprentice.

Research by the Federation of Small Businesses earlier this year confirms that management time is one of the most significant challenges that small businesses have with engaging with apprenticeships, with nearly one in three businesses reporting this as an issue. Another survey three years ago painted a very similar picture.

Setting out what’s expected of the apprentice, and the need to balance earning with learning, is crucial to achieving a return on investment as soon as possible.

There are many small businesses that do champion apprenticeships, however, and report positive results for their organisations.  

This raises the question: are apprenticeships a big burden on small businesses or is this a misguided perception?

In my experience, those small businesses that get great results from hiring apprentices do so by following a series of practical steps that are not wildly different from the systems and processes used for their other employees.

While there is a degree of adaptation to support apprentices, this extra effort is offset by the return on investment that begins, for some organisations, as quickly as three months after the apprentice starts.

Step #1: identify the business case for hiring an apprentice

It’s important that there is a solid business need driving the use of an apprenticeship, whether it’s to build the skills needed instead of hiring expensive fully-trained individuals, to develop your competitive advantage through building your own talent or to offer career progression for your existing team.

Step #2: adapt the recruitment process

For apprentices that are starting their first job, a traditional interview may not be the best approach to identify the most suitable candidates.

Simulated work, team exercises and even saying an interview is a mock interview, often produces better results.  

Step #3: kick-start with a tailored induction

While some small businesses may only have a very simple induction process for new team members, it’s essential to have one specifically for an apprentice.

Setting out what’s expected of the apprentice, and the need to balance earning with learning, is crucial to achieving a return on investment as soon as possible.

Step #4: set objectives

As with any member of a team, objectives that stretch and develop an apprentice will underpin their performance.

Linking objectives to their studies will further accelerate the rate that they start adding value.

Step #5: commit to the process of learning

As with many things, you get out what you put into an apprenticeship.

For employers, this means providing apprentices with the time and opportunity they need to study, whether that’s learning from others in the workplace or studying with fellow apprentices in a classroom.

With technology enabling many apprentices to study whenever and wherever, learning can be fitted to suit the unpredictable nature of many jobs.

At the same time, allowing apprentices to put what they have learnt into practice will help reinforce their knowledge and accelerate their positive impact.

Step #6: surround your apprentice with great people

If the size of your team will allow, there are three key roles that will help an apprentice thrive in your workplace:

  • A line manager who understands what the apprentice is studying and champions their development.
  • Someone who can mentor the apprentice’s professional development.
  • A peer who can provide practical support and advice to the apprentice.

The benefit of this is felt not just by the apprentice – those that support apprentices often say how much it has driven their own professional development.

Step #7: work with your training provider

Large employers with several apprentices are able influence the type of training they receive from a training provider.

While smaller organisations lack the scale to do this, they can still build a close relationship with their training provider with regular two-way communication about the progress of their apprentice and the content of the training.  

This will ensure that there is always a close connection between what is learnt off-the-job and on-the-job.

Step #8: get feedback

Regular feedback from your apprentice will enable you to refine and adapt their development and improve the rate at which they build new skills.  

Encouraging their involvement in peer and membership networks, such as the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network, will also empower them to believe their voice matters.

Step #9: foster wellbeing

We know only too well the stresses that can build-up in the workplace. For apprentices, this can be magnified by having to juggle work commitments with learning responsibilities, no matter where they are in their careers.

The transition from school, college or university to an apprenticeship can be very challenging while existing team members who are doing an apprenticeship to upskill may struggle to start learning if they’ve been away from education for some time.  

Being sensitive to these issues and making support easily available will make a huge difference.

What to Expect Under the New Framework when an Ofsted Inspectors Calls
October 29, 2019

By SIMON ASHWORTH chief policy officer, Association of Employment and Learning Providers.

Ofsted’s new-style inspections have been much publicised, but some AELP members have been surprised by the new format. Simon Ashworth sets out what providers should expect and how to prepare.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has been hearing from its members that inspections under Ofsted’s new framework (EIF) was not what they expected and differed to what they had previously seen. Their comments echo those of Woodspeen Training in FE Week that the EIF represents “a pretty significant shift in focus”. So what are the main changes and how can providers be ready for them?

First, far less of the inspection process will be channelled through the nominee. The inspection team will instead work with the key individuals responsible for “curriculum areas”, which we believe is a really positive change.  

Second, Ofsted will review the provider’s curriculum – and that doesn’t simply mean programme content or materials. Inspectors now want to look at the whole end-to-end process of the provider’s programmes; hence the importance of having strong curriculum leads who are prepared for the new process.

Effective “curriculum sequencing” will be inspected to ensure that the provider’s programme has been designed, structured and delivered coherently and logically. This becomes even more important for programmes where there is now more teaching and less assessment.  

A good example to consider is how providers who deliver training to level 2 apprentices plan for and deliver not only the level 1 functional skills, but also the current requirement to work towards and at least take the level 2 functional skills test. The short answer is that it should not be an afterthought bolted on at the end.

“Deep dive” inspections have now been added to the sector’s unrivalled liking for jargon. Much of the previous inspection activity was sometimes seen as operating in silos; for example inspectors would observe a class or hold a focus group with learners and report back on, say, teaching effectiveness. Under the deep dive regime, they may follow the journey of different learners all the way through their entire experience with the provider from recruitment to the preparation for end-point assessment.  

Data is less important, but from our discussions with Ofsted, providers should still be able to explain the reasons for their performance. With apprenticeships specifically, there is little comparable performance data for standards because of the move away from frameworks, so this is a sensible change. 

Nevertheless, one area of focus on is progression and destination data. A provider might have low achievement rates that look relatively poor on paper, but what is the story behind that? In the case of traineeships, qualification achievement rates might be low, because the learners left early as they got a job (one of the main aims of the programme) and didn’t have time to complete their maths and English qualifications as a result. Being able to articulate examples such as this is key to showing inspectors the whole picture.

On recognition of prior learning and off-the-job training, AELP is hearing reports of providers being misled and incorrectly advised to rip up their self-assessment reports (SARs) and quality improvement plans (QIPs) and rewrite these against the new EIF. Ofsted does not require this.

As providers move through their individual self-assessment cycle, they will naturally self-assess against the new framework. In the interim, it is worth considering the use of a positioning statement to sit alongside the SAR and QIP to help articulate to inspectors the transitional process and journey they are on.  

Remember that the SAR and the QIP are for the benefit of the provider and not a paper exercise to simply provide to Ofsted for inspection. Commensurately, Ofsted will place less emphasis on the accuracy of a SAR, but more on how effectively the provider uses the SAR and QIP to drive improvements. 

By understanding and preparing for these changes, a “deep dive” inspection should be limited to a few ripples rather than whipping up waves for providers.

The #Apprenticeship Service Launches New Webinar Programme for Autumn 2019
October 28, 2019

Sign up to our new apprenticeship service webinar programme – Helen Gorner, ESFA’s Head of Service Engagement, talks about the programme and how you can get involved:

Our team supports the delivery of the apprenticeship service by engaging with our service users through a variety of channels, one of these being webinars. We work across the ESFA and with other government departments and stakeholders to help service users understand more about the service and any new developments taking place.

Webinars are aimed at employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations, membership/representative organisations and any organisations or individuals with an interest in the apprenticeship service.

Our new autumn webinar programme for October to December includes topics on service development updates, apprenticeship eligibility, end-point assessment guidance for employers and training providers, recording end-point assessment activity in the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) and a guide to the Apprenticeship assessment service.

All our webinars are led by subject matter experts and attendees have an opportunity to ask questions during the live Q&A and take part in interactive polls.

We first launched the webinar programme in November 2018, and it’s been very successful, with more than 30 webinars being delivered to over 2000 attendees. All our webinar recordings are hosted on the apprentice service playlist on esfagovuk.

We’ve developed and delivered a series of support videos based on user needs for any significant new releases.

We’re now using a new platform, GoToWebinar, to deliver our webinars, providing an improved, more intuitive experience for attendees. It has additional features such as extra capacity, allowing more people to sign up whereas previously our webinars tended to get fully booked up.

Our webinars have been well received and we’ve had very positive feedback from attendees. Satisfaction rates are high with the vast majority rating the webinars either good or excellent.

Feedback we’ve had includes: “[it was a] really useful update on what training providers and employers need to do”, “clear information, accurate visuals and good knowledge”, and “just the right amount of information”.

One of our subject matter experts, Hayley Walker, senior manager in the Apprenticeship Funding Policy team, recently presented a webinar on user-centred funding rules, she says:

“Users of the funding rules had been asking for a more interactive roll-out session for a while. We got to engage with a huge amount of people in a short period of time, give background and context that we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to give, and quickly test understanding.

Careers England Newsletter – October 2019: Issue 145
October 28, 2019

New website and email client
We are pleased to announce that our new website is now live. It provides a more user-friendly platform for pulling our resources together.  We will no longer be operating a log in section as the majority of our papers are public. We have also switched to Mailchimp to issue our member newsletter. If you have any questions or feedback about either the website or newsletter please get in touch.  

Gavin Williamson pledges support for technical education
The new secretary of state used the Conservative Party Conference to outline his support for apprenticeships, vocational and technical education; stating they were “just as important” as university. Williamson will establish a new skills and productivity board to provide strategic advice on skills and qualifications, and put £120 million into twenty new Institutes of Technology across the country. Read the speech in full.

Careers sector gears up for general election
Careers England is working with The CDI and The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) to put together a manifesto for career development ahead of a potential general election. It is based on principles of quality and longevity and we will be asking for all stakeholders for support once finalised. Watch this space for more information.   

Task group information

Our position paper developed by the personal guidance task group is now available online on our website. Please share the paper with your networks.
Look out for our next position paper on employer and community engagement which is currently in development. 

News from across the sector

AELP calls for creation of adult traineeships – TES

Unlawful practices and buck passing over special needs – BBC

Apprenticeship restrictions mean hundreds of millions of pounds of NHS funding going to waste – UNISON

Eton and Harrow use their contacts to help state pupils with careers advice – inews

Adult retraining scheme rolled out to new regions – Gov.uk

Career ambitions ‘already limited by age seven’ – BBC 

T Level campaign launched by government – Gov.uk

OECD says employers need to tackle ‘ingrained assumptions’ about jobs – Education and Employers

Information, consultations and resources

UK Career Development Awards 2020
The CDI has announced categories for the 2020 UK Career Development Awards, which take place next March. There are four personal achievement awards, three best practice awards and two research & technology awards. The awards will be presented following a reception and dinner at the Hilton Hotel, Leeds. All information and notes to entrants can be viewed here. 

Career Development NOS
CLD Standards Council Scotland in partnership with II Aspire have been granted a contract from Skills Development Scotland to carry out a review of the Career Development National Occupational Standards (NOS) which were last reviewed in 2014. As these standards are applicable across the United Kingdom, the CLD Standards Council Scotland and II Aspire will be working with a range of national and local organisations from Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

National Occupational Standards (NOS) specify the standards of performance individuals must achieve in the workplace, together with the knowledge and understanding required for roles, for most employment sectors including Career Development. Views are being sought on whether the current standards are fit for purpose or whether they require amending. The focus group will take place on 31st October in central London. Please email julie.carruth@iiaspire.co.uk for more information and to register your attendance.

Conferences, events and training

Annual Careers Summit – 12th Nov, London
The Careers Education & Guidance Summit, delivered in partnership with Westminster Briefing and Careers England, will bring together careers professionals from across the public and private sector to share key learnings and tackle the remaining obstacles as we move towards meeting the 2020 Careers Strategy goals. Book here.

CDI national conference 2019 – 2nd / 3rd Dec, Gateshead
Conference themes include the future of work, resilience and well-being, and digital skills for careers professionals. Book here.

Famous Apprentices
October 28, 2019

Did you know these famous people were former apprentices?

Gordon Ramsay started his successful career as a catering apprentice.

David Beckham was an apprentice in the football Youth Training Scheme.

John Frieda began his incredibly successful career as a hairdressing apprentice.

Sir Alex Ferguson started his career as a shipyard apprentice.

Elvis was an apprentice electrician.

Sir Ian McKellan completed a theatre apprenticeship.

Sir Michael Caine started life as a plumbing apprentice.

Stella McCartney began her career as an apprentice with a tailor on the infamous Saville Row.

Karen Millen started her career as an Apprentice, training at the Medway College of Design in Rochester.

Karren Brady became an Advertising Apprentice at Saatchi & Saatchi.

Careers Advice Toolkit
October 25, 2019

WorldSkills UK and Youth Employment UK have published a new digital Careers Advice Toolkit. The comprehensive guide supports young people with employability and careers information they need for their futures. 

There are 19 lesson plans in total, covering Key Stage 3 and 4 all mapped against the Careers Development Institute and Gatsby Benchmark Frameworks.

Learners will be coached through their career journey, helped to identify their own motivators and skills, understand their career options and also the developmental tools and pathways available to them. 

The lessons can be delivered as bitesize pieces of content or as a whole career curriculum with video’s, quizzes and engaging activities to support the learner along their career journey.

It’s completely free to use. To access the Careers Advice Toolkit you need to complete a form giving your details – it can be accessed using the link below.

Click here