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Cabinet Reshuffle Should Reinstate Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Further Education

The FAB Chair, Paul Eeles, has written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, calling on him to use his next Cabinet reshuffle to reinstate a Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Further Education:

Paul Eeles, Chair od The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)

I wanted to underline the Federation of Awarding Bodies support for your ambition of the United Kingdom becoming a world leader in education and science, particularly as we leave the European Union.

Our members – awarding bodies and examination boards – already provide millions of learners in the UK and overseas with the qualifications and skills to succeed. Ultimately, the work of our members is about growing the human capital potential of the whole country – north, south, east and west.

A significant number of our members also successfully help to export the British brand of education and well respected qualifications overseas. In many ways, we are world-leaders already.

As you contemplate a government reshuffle and potentially make some machinery of government changes, there are some matters I wanted to raise with you directly.

The first thing I wanted to highlight is how impressed we have been with the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, and the fact he has been one of the most engaged cabinet ministers, particularly in relation to improving technical and further education.

That said, one of the casualties of your last reshuffle was to remove the Minister of State post for Skills and Apprenticeships from the Department for Education. In practice, however, this has meant the further education sector has lost a daily champion and reformer with whom we could effectively engage. This is in stark contrast to schools and universities who do have dedicated ministers.

Given your renewed focus, as a Government, in ensuring that the economic and social opportunities of the nation are developed more evenly across the country, can I encourage you to appoint a dedicated minister with a laser like brief, who is ruthlessly focussed on improving productivity, apprenticeships, skills and FE? 

As you are aware, the UK has a major productivity gap with other G7 countries. Social mobility has stalled in recent years. And in England, we are facing a real challenge to ensure programmes like the Apprenticeship Levy are meeting the needs of employers and young people. 

The resumption of a dedicated FE minister would really help to take your ambitious agenda forward.

Paul Eeles, Chair od The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)

Young People NEET or Activity Unknown: Comparative Data scorecard
October 21, 2019
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Data about young people’s education, employment or training status in each local authority in England.

This scorecard provides information about young people’s participation and attainment in education, employment or training in a single publication.

The scorecard:

  • allows local authorities and their partners to monitor their own performance and compare it with that of others
  • puts into context local authorities’ figures on the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (‘NEET’) and those with unknown education, employment or training status
Documents

NEET scorecard

NEET scorecard – metadata

Neet scorecard – underlying data

NEET scorecard – underlying data

Published October 2019

£5.75 million #CareerTech Challenge Launches
October 17, 2019
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Get Help to Retrain service continues its phased rollout and is now available in six major cities and regions across England. The pioneering service – which forms part of the National Retraining Scheme – aims to support adults whose jobs are at risk of changing to kick start a new career

From 16 October, the Government’s Get Help to Retrain service will be offered to adults across the Leeds City Region, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, and the Heart of the South West to support even more people to get on the path to a new job.

The pioneering online service is the first of a series of products that will make up the Government’s National Retraining Scheme, which is being developed to support eligible adults – particularly those whose jobs could be at risk of changing because of new technologies such as AI and automation – to kick start a new career.

The service helps adults to identify their existing skills, explore different types of job opportunities and find training courses to gain the skills they need to progress in the workplace. Dedicated support is also on hand from qualified careers advisers to guide people through the process and provide expert advice.

Get Help to Retrain is now available in six major cities and regions across England after being successfully trialled in the West Midlands, North East and the Liverpool City Region.

Eligible adults – those aged 24 and over, qualified below degree level and who are working below a certain wage threshold – living in one of the six regions can now try the service out for themselves and help to test and improve it further by visiting 

Education Minister, Michelle Donelan, said:

“The world of work is changing fast, which is why we are developing the National Retraining Scheme to help prepare adults whose jobs may change as a result of new technologies to thrive in the roles of the future.

“The Get Help to Retrain digital service is just the first step. We are rolling the service out gradually, testing and learning as we go.  The good news is that eligible adults in all six areas can now try out the new service and help us make sure we get it right for those who need it.”

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the British Trades Union Congress, said:

“All workers should have the chance to retrain and improve their skills. And this will be key as the labour market undergoes the transformation of new technology and automation in the coming years. 

“The launch of this new phase of the National Retraining Scheme and its collaborative approach is good news. It will help to open up retraining to many more working people – preparing them for the jobs of the future.

“Union learning reps will play a crucial role in supporting workers to access advice and retraining opportunities available through the scheme.

“The challenge for the National Retraining Partnership is to develop a national programme that invests in the potential of all workers, delivering the skills we need for the growth sectors of the future.”

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said:

“Seeing the Get Help to Retrain digital service rolled out to more locations across the country is promising news. Ensuring people’s skills are fit for the future is an essential part of improving productivity growth, wages and living standards up and down the country.

“As the world of work changes rapidly, the best way to help people access the high-quality training they need to succeed is by Government and employers working together.  And once the National Retraining Scheme is well underway, it should kick start wider cross-government efforts to embrace technology in the workplace.”

Following extensive user testing, adults accessing the service will benefit from new and improved features such as a more advanced skills matching tool to help them identify potential new job roles, and the ability to save their progress and return to their results.

Get Help to Retrain is being rolled out in stages so that it can be fully tested and developed further, before being made available nationwide in 2020. A series of additional products that will make up the full service are being developed and tested in parallel, before being released at different times.

The National Retraining Scheme – backed by £100 million of Government investment – is led and overseen by the National Retraining Partnership – a unique partnership between Government, the CBI and the TUC – to ensure the collective voices of businesses and employees are heard.

The National Careers Service is supporting the testing of the scheme in the six areas by providing qualified careers advisers to give expert information, advice and guidance to users of Get Help to Retrain.

The Government has also announced that, technology companies and innovators can bid for a share of the CareerTech Challenge fund – which is backed by £5.75 million of funding from the Government and innovation foundation Nesta – to develop cutting-edge solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of online training and guidance for adults looking for a change in career.

The CareerTech Challenge, previously known as the Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund (ALTIF), will create innovative and engaging online solutions that help adults to upskill and move into exciting new roles.

Minister Donelan added:

“The CareerTech Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for innovators looking to put their ideas into action on a national scale.

“Everyone deserves access to high-quality teaching and, thanks to new technologies such as automation and Artificial Intelligence, there is potential to drastically improve the quality of online learning for adult students.

“Investing in cutting edge technologies demonstrates our ongoing commitment to adult education and we hope it will encourage more adults to retrain and upskill in future.”

The ground-breaking CareerTech Challenge fund initiative is being developed in partnership with Nesta. Through the fund, innovators will be supported to test and apply the latest technology to develop bespoke, flexible, inclusive, and engaging online solutions that support more people into skilled employment.

Vicki Sellick, Nesta’s Executive Director of Programmes, said:

“As the world of work transforms, it is crucial that people feel confident in understanding what jobs will be available in the future in their local area and how to learn the skills to secure them.

“Technology offers a variety of exciting ways to equip people with the knowledge and tools to plan for secure and rewarding careers and improve working lives for people across England.”

Education and Training Staff in Independent Training Providers – DfE Wants to Hear From You!

The Department for Education (DfE) recognises the vital role the workforce plays and has commissioned the Education and Training Professionals (ETP) survey to help build their understanding of the workforce and the issues it faces.

  • The further education sector is exceptionally important in developing a skilled workforce and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential.
  • In this survey, DfE wants to hear from sixth form colleges, independent training providers and adult and community learning providers.
  • This work is being carried out on behalf of the DfE by IFF Research, an independent research company. IFF Research has developed the survey with support from the Sixth Form College Association (SFCA), the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and HOLEX.
  • The first phase of research is running throughout summer and autumn 2019, with reporting in early 2020.

Find out more about the survey here: http://ow.ly/PNHy50w6Cgf

Lord Agnew now Responsible for FE Providers and Careers Strategy
September 13, 2019
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The government yesterday (11 Sept) confirmed Michelle Donelan as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, as Chris Skidmore returns as joint Minister of State for the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Minister for the School System, Lord Agnew, will take on responsibility for the further education provider market, including quality and improvement.

He will also lead on EU exit preparation, delivery of the Careers Strategy, the Opportunity Areas programme, school food and safeguarding in schools and post-16 settings, in addition to his existing brief.

Minister Donelan began the role on Tuesday 10 September, following the start of her predecessor Kemi Badenoch’s maternity leave.

She takes on responsibility for children’s social care, special educational needs and disabilities – including high needs funding – disadvantage and social mobility and support for the home learning environment.

She will also continue to support the Secretary of State in his role as skills lead, including on the delivery of T-Levels, apprenticeships and adult education, in recognition of the important role technical education plays as the country prepares to leave the European Union.

Minister for Children and Families Michelle Donelan said:

“I truly believe that a good education is the key to creating a fair society where everyone, no matter where they come from or their circumstances, has opportunities to succeed.

“From the earliest years of children’s lives to the point at which they make decisions about their further education or training, I am proud to be joining a department that is focusing its efforts on the most disadvantaged in society.”

Minister Donelan remains as a Government Whip, taking on the role at the Department for Education on an unpaid basis for the duration of Kemi Badenoch’s maternity leave. She was previously a member of the Education Select Committee between July 2015 and October 2018.

Minister Skidmore returns as Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, following the resignation of Jo Johnson on Thursday 5 September.

Minister of State for School Standards Nick Gibb will take on policy for early education and childcare including funding, support for the early years workforce, curriculum, quality and the early education entitlements.

He will also add responsibility for PE and school sport and the Pupil Premium to his existing portfolio.

National Retraining Scheme Gathers Pace
August 27, 2019
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New digital service Get Help to Retrain is rolled out to the West Midlands and North East

Part of the Government’s drive to future proof the workforce and help boost the economy, The National Retraining Scheme – backed by the CBI and TUC – will support adults to retrain and kick start a new career.

Education Minister Kemi Badenoch has announced the further rollout of the Get Help to Retrain digital service to the West Midlands and North East following a successful launch across the Liverpool City region last month.

The Get Help to Retrain digital service is the first of a series of products that will make up the Governments’ landmark National Retraining Scheme, which is being developed to support adults whose jobs may change due to new technologies – such as automation and AI – to retrain and get on the path to a new career.

Get Help to Retrain is designed to help adults to identify their existing skills, explore the different types of jobs and find training courses to gain the skills they need to progress. Dedicated support is also on hand from qualified careers advisers to guide people through the process and provide expert information and advice.

This scheme was trialled across the Liverpool City Region where users provided valuable feedback so it can be developed further.  From today, the service will be available to more adults to test across the West Midlands and the North East, as well as continuing in the Liverpool City Region.

As the next phase of the rollout ramps up, adults will benefit from new and improved features including being able to explore a wider range of training options online and being matched to different types of jobs that they may not have considered they could do with their existing skills.

Education Minister Kemi Badenoch said:

“Following the successful release of the Get Help to Retrain digital service in the Liverpool City Region, I am pleased to announce that from today, we are rolling it out to two additional areas – the North East and West Midlands.

“Get Help to Retrain is just the start of the National Retraining Scheme, which will play a vital role helping adults whose jobs are at risk of changing or evolving due to new technologies to learn new skills and get on the path to a new, more rewarding career.

Understanding the Educational Background of Young Offenders
August 6, 2019
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This summary report sets out the key findings from an analysis of young offenders in the youth justice system.

Key findings

For those young offenders sentenced in 2014 that were at the end of Key Stage 2 (KS2) in academic year 2007/08:

  • Those sentenced to custody had lower attainment at KS2 than those given Youth Rehabilitation Orders (YROs), Referral Orders (ROs) or cautions. 47% of those sentenced to custody for less than 12 months achieved the expected level in Maths at KS2. 56% achieved the expected level in reading and 28% achieved the expected level in writing at
  • The results for those given a custodial sentence of 12 months or longer were marginally better with 52% achieving the expected level at KS2 in Maths, 58% in reading and 33% in

For those young offenders sentenced in 2014 that were at the end of Key Stage 4 (KS4) in academic year 2012/13:

  • Those given custodial sentences had lower attainment at KS4 than those given community sentences or cautions. 1% of those sentenced to less than 12 months in custody achieved 5 or more GCSEs (or equivalents) graded A* – C including English and
  • Of those sentenced to a referral order, 14% achieved 5 or more GCSEs (or equivalents) graded A* – C including English and Maths. The equivalent figure for those given a caution was 17%.

For those young offenders sentenced in 2014 that were at the end of KS4 in academic year 2012/13:

  • 44% of those given custodial sentences less than 12 months were known to be eligible for Free School Meals (FSM). For those given custodial sentences of 12 months or longer, 44% were known to be eligible for FSM. The equivalent figure for YROs was 40%.
  • 45% of those sentenced to less than 12 months in custody were recorded as having Special Educational Needs (SEN) without a statement and 28% were recorded as having SEN with a statement.
  • 46% of those sentenced to YROs were recorded as having SEN without a statement. The equivalent figures for those sentenced to referral orders was 42% and for cautions was 38%.

For those young offenders sentenced in 2014 that were recorded as being 16 or 17 years old on their sentence date:

  • 31% of those sentenced to custody for 12 months or longer were looked after at 31st March 2014. The equivalent figure for those sentenced to custody for less than 12 months was 27%.
  • Over 90% of those sentenced to custody had a previous record of being persistently absent from school (missing 10% of sessions within a school year).
  • 23% of those sentenced to less than 12 months in custody have been permanently excluded from school prior to their 2014 sentence date. For those sentenced to 12 months or longer in custody, 16% have a previous record of being excluded from school prior to
Documents

Understanding the educational background of young offenders: amended summary report

Understanding the educational background of young offenders: summary report

DfE Team July 2019
August 2, 2019
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Gavin Williamson
Education secretary

The MP for South Staffordshire since 2010, Williamson previously served as Theresa May’s chief whip and defence secretary, before he was sacked following allegations he leaked confidential information, allegations he denies.

During his time as defence secretary, Williamson commissioned a report into how military values could benefit schools. It has yet to be published.

He has also previously campaigned for a better funding settlement for schools, focusing on regional variations in funding between his own rural constituency and other better-funded areas.

As well as leading the department, it has also been announced that Williamson will “lead” on skills, after the government failed to replace Anne Milton as minister of state for skills and apprenticeships.

Responsibilities

  • early years
  • children’s social care
  • teachers’ pay
  • the school curriculum
  • school improvement
  • academies and free schools
  • further education
  • higher education
  • apprenticeships and skills
Nick Gibb
Schools minister

The MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton survived the latest reshuffle despite rumours of his impending departure from the department he has served for most of the past decade.

Gibb has already served a combined six years and five months in the role of minister of state for schools, and seven years and two months’ service at the department.

Appointed as schools minister by David Cameron in May 2010, Gibb served in the role until September 2012, when he was replaced by Liberal Democrat David Laws and returned to the backbenches.

But he didn’t stay away from the department long. He became a junior minister for school reform in July 2014, and returned to the minister of state role the following May after the Liberal Democrats left government following their heavy general election defeat.

He is the government’s main cheerleader for a knowledge-rich curriculum, strict behaviour policies and rigorous testing of pupils.

Responsibilities 

  • recruitment and retention of teachers and school leaders (including initial teacher training, qualifications and professional development)
  • supporting a high-quality teaching profession (including links to National College for Teaching and Leadership)
  • reducing teacher workload
  • admissions and school transport
  • national funding formula for schools and school revenue funding
  • curriculum, assessment and qualifications (including links with Ofqual)
  • school accountability (including links with Ofsted)
  • personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and children and young people’s mental health
  • preventing bullying in schools
  • behaviour and attendance, exclusions and alternative provision policy
Lord Agnew of Oulton
Academies minister

Agnew, the founder of the Inspiration Trust academy chain and a faithful disciple of the academies programme, also remains in his post following Johnson’s reshuffle.

The Conservative peer is a controversial figure, in part because of his background in business and outsourcing, but also because of his regular outbursts about school finances.

Last year, he got into hot water after he wagered schools a bottle of Champagne that he could find additional savings in their budgets. He has described himself as being like a “pig hunting for truffles” when it comes to making savings.

His personal wealth remains tied up in a blind trust for the duration of his time as a minister. He also does not receive a salary for his ministerial duties.

Responsibilities

  • free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools
  • academies and multi-academy trusts
  • faith schools
  • independent schools
  • home education and supplementary schools
  • intervention in underperforming schools
  • school improvement (including teaching school alliances, national and local leaders of education and school improvement funds)
  • school governance
  • school capital investment (including new school places, school condition, land and playing fields)
  • counter extremism and integration in schools, further education colleges and sixth-form colleges
Kemi Badenoch

Children’s minister

The MP for Saffron Waldren replaced Nadhim Zahawi, who moved to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Previously a back-bencher, Badenoch has repeatedly called for an increase in school funding, acknowledging in parliamentary contributions that the government now asks schools “to do much more than they ever have”.

Schools Week reported this week how Badenoch will immediately face pressure from the schools community to address a crisis in SEND funding.

The think tank IPPR North recently found that the amount of funding available for pupils with the most complex needs has reduced by 17 per cent across England since 2015.

The government has also announced that Badenoch will help cover the skills brief handed to her boss Gavin Williamson after former skills minister Anne Milton was not replaced.

Responsibilities

  • children’s social care including child protection, children in care, adoption, care leavers, social work, local authority performance and family law
  • special educational needs including high needs funding
  • education policy in response to the race disparity audit
  • safeguarding in schools
  • disadvantaged pupils – including pupil premium and pupil premium plus
  • school sport, healthy pupils and school food, including free school meals
  • early years policy including inspection, regulation and literacy and numeracy
  • childcare policy, inspection and regulation
  • delivery of 30 hours free childcare offer
  • social mobility including opportunity areas
  • DfE contribution to cross-government work to tackle rough sleeping
Jo Johnson
Universities minister

This isn’t the first stint at the DfE for the MP for Orpington and brother of Boris. He previously served in the same role between May 2015 and January 2018 before moving to the transport department and eventually resigning over Brexit.

Johnson was also previously a minister for London and cabinet office minister. Before that, he was director of the Number 10 policy unit, advising David Cameron.

Like his brother, he attended Eton College and the University of Oxford. However, unlike Boris, he is on the pro-European left of the Conservative Party.

Responsibilities

According to the DfE, his responsibilities “will be confirmed in due course”.

Williamson to Personally Take on Skills Remit
July 31, 2019
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The education secretary will be supported by the new children’s minister in delivering the brief, DfE confirms.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson will personally lead on the skills brief, the Department for Education has confirmed. 

He will do so with support from newly appointed children’s minister Kemi Badenoch – a former apprentice who completed her A levels part-time at an FE college. 

The announcement follows days of speculation on whether there would be a dedicated skills minister in Boris Johnson’s government and the resignation of former apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton last week. 

The DfE said this morning that, as already announced, Jo Johnson would be returning to the department, and this would be “in his previous role as universities minister, in addition to also returning as a minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy”.

A DfE spokesperson said:

“All ministerial appointments have now been made and the education secretary will be leading on the skills brief, with support from the new children’s minister Kemi Badenoch.

“As the prime minister has said, further education and skills will be a priority for this government – and the education secretary taking the lead for this vital work is a reflection of that commitment.”

In his first appearance in Parliament as prime minister last week, Boris Johnson said he had already discussed the issue of further education and skills with the newly appointed education secretary, and it would be a priority.

“Yes, it is a great thing that 50 per cent of our kids should have the ambition to go to university, but of course it is equally important that other kids should acquire the skills they need that can be just as valuable, can lead to just as fantastic a career, and it is vital we invest now in further education and skills,” he said. 

Response to the Appointment of Gavin Williamson as Secretary of State for Education
July 25, 2019
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Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP, has been appointed Secretary of State for Education in Boris Johnson’s first evening in office as Prime Minister.

Gavin was previously Secretary of State for Defence from 2 November 2017 to 1 May 2019. He was Chief Whip (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury) from 14 July 2016 to 2 November 2017. 

Gavin was known for his innovative ideas while in his previous Defence Secretary role, which also ended with a little bit of controversy. Reports in the mainstream media were widely shared whilst he was in the Defence Secretary’s post, such as innovative cost-saving ideas like arming tractors with guns, disguising missile defense systems as drinks lorries and re-purposing ferries as landing craft.

Williams was removed from post as the Defence Secretary over the Huawei 5G leak scandal by previous Prime Minister Theresa May, where he was accused of leaking information from a National Security Council meeting. Williamson strenuously denied any involvement in the Huawei leak and no formal charges were brought against him. 

So what is the Sector Response to the news about Gavin Williamson taking up the Secretary of State post?

Steve Frampton, President of the Association of Colleges (Aoc) said:

“The job of Secretary of State for Education is one of the best, and most important, in government. There is the potential to change the lives of millions of people, transform our communities, and support the long-term success of business and our economy.

Gavin Williamson has stepped into the role at one of the most crucial times in modern history. The House of Common’s own Education Select Committee this week released a report that warns that the education system risks “reaching breaking point” unless government acts. And so we urge him to act and act quickly.

Report after report, expert after expert have been clear, colleges have been over-looked and under-funded, having faced a decade of unprecedented cuts. The new Secretary of State has the potential to shape a legacy in which the forgotten 50% are remembered and supported, businesses are equipped with the skilled staff they are crying out for, and our communities and people across the country can thrive. That legacy can only happen if he prioritises further education, including with real, meaningful and sustainable investment in colleges. We look forward to working with the new Secretary of State to make this happen.”

Tom Bewick, Chief Executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) comments:

“It’s great to see a state educated politician take over the helm at the Department for Education. Gavin Williamson will be judged on the basis of one overriding objective: and that is his ability to secure more investment in further education and skills. He needs to make the case to the Treasury that you can’t secure a world-class workforce on the cheap. Improving skills, productivity and social mobility is a shared challenge. Top of his priority list should be to sort out the financial sustainability of the Apprenticeship Levy. He should resist the calls from business to turn the Levy into a general skills fund; and instead, ensure the money is targeted at below Level 6 apprenticeships. This should include a focus on more 16-24 year olds being able to benefit from the learning and earning route to success, without them having to rack up huge graduate debts. 

“From FAB’s perspective, we’d like to see the new ministerial team become a genuine champion of the awarding and assessment industry. We export more qualifications and expertise than any other country on the planet. Attacking the value of vocational qualifications therefore is not a sensible way of building parity of esteem. It only undermines the hard work of many learners and teachers. We look forward to discussing his predecessor’s various qualifications reviews; as well as playing our part in constructively helping the government to deliver on its promises of turning the nation into a leading system of technical and vocational education.”