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Major Expansion of Post-18 Education and Training
September 30, 2020
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From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

The Prime Minister has set out plans to transform the training and skills system, making it fit for the 21st century economy, and helping the country build back better from coronavirus.

Adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course – providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them.

This offer will be available from April in England, and will be paid for through the National Skills Fund. A full list of available courses will be set out shortly.

Higher education loans will also be made more flexible, allowing adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes, take more high-quality vocational courses in further education colleges and universities, and to support people to retrain for jobs of the future.

These reforms will be backed by continued investment in college buildings and facilities – including over £1.5 billion in capital funding. More details will be set out in a further education white paper later this year.

The coronavirus pandemic and changing economy is why the Prime Minister is developing a long-term plan to ensure that, as work changes, people can retrain, upskill and find new well-paid jobs.

In a speech on Tuesday, the Prime Minister is expected to announce a new Lifetime Skill Guarantee. He will say:

As the Chancellor has said, we cannot, alas, save every job. What we can do is give people the skills to find and create new and better jobs.

So my message today is that at every stage of your life, this government will help you get the skills you need.

He will add:

We’re transforming the foundations of the skills system so that everyone has the chance to train and retrain.

Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for SMEs taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured – especially in sectors such as construction and creative industries where there are more varied employment patterns.

In 2000, over 100,000 people were doing Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, but that has reduced to fewer than 35,000 now. Those doing foundation degrees has declined from 81,000 to 30,000.

As a result, only 10% of adults hold a Higher Technical Qualification as their highest qualification, compared to 20% in Germany and 34% in Canada.

This is despite the fact that five years after completion, the average Higher Technical Apprentice earns more than the average graduate.

That is why the government is committed to making higher education more flexible to facilitate lifelong learning, and to make it easy for adults and young people to break up their study into segments, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

This new arrangement will provide finance for shorter term studies, rather than having to study in one three or four year block.

The government is also committing £8 million for digital skills boot camps; expanding successful pilots in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands and introducing programmes in four new locations.

From next year, boot camps will be extended to sectors like construction and engineering, helping the country build back better and support our refreshed Industrial Strategy.

Earlier this year the government launched its free online Skills Toolkit, helping people train in digital and numeracy skills. This is being expanded today to include 62 additional courses.

£2.5 billion is also being made available through the National Skills Fund to help get people working again after COVID, as well as giving those in work the chance to train for higher-skilled, better-paid jobs.

Andy Wales, Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer, BT, said:

BT welcomes the Prime Minister’s commitment to put skills at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery plan, and particularly the emphasis on digital skills. BT is already heavily invested in this area through Skills for Tomorrow which aims to empower 10 million people by giving them the skills they need to make the most of life in a digital world. Our Work Ready programme, and our support for the new Fast Futures digital courses for young adults, focus on the jobseeker groups that most need new skills. Ensuring that the nation’s workforce is ready for a digital future has never been more urgent – and partnership is key. That’s why BT is a founding partner of FutureDotNow, a coalition which aims to motivate people and businesses across the UK to address the growing skills gap and empower everyone to thrive in a digital UK.

Doug Gurr, Amazon’s U.K. Country Manager, said:

We welcome this initiative to help the country recover from the impact of the pandemic by equipping people with the skills needed to find new jobs and retrain for new opportunities. At Amazon, we continue to provide opportunities for people of all ages to gain new skills with apprenticeships and university bursaries, free computer science and engineering resources through our Amazon Future Engineer and Maths4All programmes, and free training for small businesses through the Amazon Small Business Accelerator. Amazon also offers employees a programme called Career Choice that provides funding for skills development through nationally recognised courses of up to £8,000 over four years.

Stephen van Rooyen, EVP & CEO, UK and Europeat Sky said:

Given the pace of change in business and in workplaces today, and the economic challenges of COVID, we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcements today to not just rebuild, but to turbo charge skills training in England. The new Skills and Productivity Board has a key role to play in developing our skills economy for current and future generations. It is a privilege to contribute, and I’m looking forward to working with the panel and the government to drive this important agenda. The Skills Productivity Board will provide important advice to government on how to tackle the nation’s skills challenges to help rebuild our economy post-COVID-19 and deliver the bold skills agenda outlined by the Prime Minister today. I look forward to working with government to level up opportunity across the country ensuring people have the skills they need to progress.

Clare Barclay, CEO, Microsoft UK, said:

As a country we face multiple challenges, but we believe that learning unlocks opportunity. Today, more than ever, individuals, businesses and government must build the skills we need for tomorrow. Because if we fail to act now, the UK could easily be left behind in the global economy. There are no better investments in our future than the kinds of accessible, lifelong and flexible programmes that the Prime Minister has announced this morning.

Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive, BAE Systems, said:

It’s more important than ever that government and industry work together to help young people and adults gain the skills needed to work in sectors which will support our nation’s economic recovery. As a major employer of graduates and apprentices, BAE Systems’ investment in skills provides an essential pipeline of talent that enables us to continue to deliver cutting-edge defence and security capabilities, essential to our national security.

Nick Mackenzie, CEO Greene King, said:

We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of increased funding for skills and further education. As a business we are passionate about improving social mobility and developing the skills of the nation’s young people to ensure they are ready for work. That is why we invest heavily in apprenticeships, supporting over 12,500 since 2011.

David Livingstone, CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Citi, said:

With digitisation accelerating throughout the economy, the UK needs to continue to develop a highly skilled and innovative workforce. Banks can play a critical role, and Citi looks forward to expanding the reach of its current apprenticeship programmes, including our recently-launched Data Academy and efforts to encourage former employees back into the workforce. Citi stands ready to play its part in delivering on the UK Government’s ambition to increase employability and transform the country’s training and skills system.

Anthony Impey MBE, Founder, Optimity, said:

The Prime Minister’s announcement today to transform the training and skills system is crucial to helping businesses get back on their feet and start to realise future opportunities. These are tough times for small businesses and skills are a vital part of the recovery process.

Steve Murrells, CEO of the Co-op, said:

The Co-op Group is pleased to work in partnership with the government to create opportunities for adults to gain the skills they need to move into sustainable employment. We are already an industry leader in providing apprenticeships and we are proud of the work our 1,200 current apprentices have done as key workers during the pandemic to support the nation.

We believe that opportunities need to be created where they are most needed and offered to those who most need them. So we have already committed to ensure that groups that have previously been under-represented in our apprenticeship programme receive fair access in the future so we are seeking partnerships focussed on benefitting Black, Asian and ethnic minority candidates. We also know there is more to do to ensure opportunities to develop new skills are made available in the communities that most need them. That’s why we have committed to offer up to 150 kickstarter placements – combining skills and paid employment – in communities where we know the need is greatest.

A Jaguar Land Rover spokesperson said:

We welcome today’s announcement by the Prime Minister. As future technologies increase the need for digital and electrical skills in the automotive industry, Jaguar Land Rover supports any measures aimed at up-skilling and re-skilling our employees as a part of a lifelong approach to learning.

As the largest UK automotive apprenticeship provider, we invest heavily in the training and development of our people throughout their careers. We look forward now to working with government and industry to develop fit for purpose technical courses and qualifications to support future high value job creation and maintain the UK’s global manufacturing competitiveness.

Ofsted Seeks to Make Oversight of Subcontractors More Comprehensive and Transparent

Ofsted has published new research looking at subcontractors in the further education and skills sector.

New research by Ofsted finds that subcontractors in the further education and skills (FES) sector often have overall control of the day-to-day quality of a learner’s education and training. However, directly-funded providers do not always exert enough influence to manage the subcontracted provision well. For example, they might not have the necessary subject or industry expertise to review provision meaningfully.

The research also found that the current approach to inspection means that some subcontractors are visited more than once, while others are not visited at all.

While Ofsted is not funded to directly inspect subcontractors, the research proposes a more comprehensive and transparent approach to improve oversight.

The report, ‘Subcontracting in further education and skills’, recognises the acute economic challenges FES providers are facing as a result of COVID-19, as well as the broader decline in subcontracted provision over recent years. It explores what makes for high-quality FES provision delivered through subcontracting and asks how inspection and regulation might need to adapt as a result of a rapidly evolving landscape.

Ofsted is responsible for inspecting the quality of education offered by directly-funded FES providers, but inspectors do not report on all subcontracted provision. However, the inspectorate has increased its focus on subcontracting over the past 2 years, in response to concerns about the quality of some subcontractors.

Currently, Ofsted inspections give a rounded judgement of a directly- funded provider by sampling activities across the provision. The choice of subcontractors to sample is made within practical constraints, such as their location. These activities then inform the leadership and management judgement of the directly- funded provider and, where appropriate, the quality of education judgement.

The report suggests there are limitations to this approach and concludes that the oversight of subcontracted education could be improved by sampling more subcontracted provision. Therefore, Ofsted is seeking to make inspecting and reporting on subcontracted provision more comprehensive and transparent by:

  • working with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to improve access to timely and accurate data on the number and size of subcontracting arrangements held by a directly-funded provider
  • increasing awareness among inspectors of Ofsted’s available inspection resource, in order to investigate more subcontractors
  • changing the way evidence is recorded to systematically and consistently include information about all subcontractors visited
  • where appropriate, highlighting more subcontractors in inspection reports

In particular, more accurate data from the ESFA would allow Ofsted to arrange to visit subcontracted provision that was far away, because out-of-region resources could be factored into planning.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said:

The financial stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic and ESFA’s tighter regulations around subcontracting make this an important and timely report. Over the past two years we have increased our focus on the management of subcontracted provision. However, this new research has highlighted the importance of reviewing subcontractors within our current model.

We are open to exploring how we could directly inspect subcontractors in the future, but that would need significantly more financial resource and better data. So, for now we will continue to inspect subcontractors as part of our inspections of directly-funded providers. But I’m confident that the changes set out in today’s report will make our oversight more meaningful and transparent.

The report is based on visits to 14 subcontractors in November and December last year; focus groups with 38 inspectors; and desk-based analysis of inspection reports and evidence bases, as well as other publicly available data on subcontracting.

End to ESFA Funding Subcontracting Brokers

Article by Billy Camden published in FE WEEK

Using brokers in subcontracting deals will be a “serious breach” of funding rules next year, the government said today as it announced the first steps to clamping down on subcontracting in FE.

Training providers have also been told to publish a “rationale” for subcontracting, their management fee structure and a list of subcontracting partners on their websites by October 31.

The measures were outlined in new subcontracting guidance for 2020/21, published today by the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Last month, the ESFA released its response to a consultation that was run earlier this year and proposed major changes to subcontracting.

The agency wants to see a “significant reduction” of the practice in FE and will roll out strict measures, such as volume caps, over the next three years.

For academic year 2020/21, the ESFA said today that the use of brokers to source a subcontracting partner is “not permitted and will be treated as a breach of contract/funding agreement”.

“By brokers we mean where a third-party matches, for a fee, a provider with an unused allocation with a provider that can secure enrolments of learners to utilise it,” the agency explained, adding that they have “strengthened our levers to act and will do so where we find cases of provision being subject to brokerage”.

FE Week has reported on multiple cases of brokers cashing in on last minute subcontracting deals in recent years.

In March we revealed on how a learner find firm was attempting to broker a subcontracting deal for 16 to 18-year-old trainees who had already completed their placement at football clubs.

The only other change coming into force next year is a requirement for “all providers to publish a clear educational rationale for their subcontracting position on their website alongside their management fee structure and a list of subcontracting partners”.

The guidance states that directly funded institutions should “set out in their organisation’s strategic aims their reason for subcontracting, which must enhance the quality of their student offer”. The rationale “should be signed off by governors and boards and published on their website”.

The ESFA said they expect this information to be published by 31 October 2020 and it should be “easy to navigate to from the front page of the organisation’s education and training web pages”.

Other reforms will be introduced in 2022 and 2023.

New Package of Support for T Level Industry Placements

A new package of support to help employers and FE providers deliver high-quality industry placements which are at the heart of pioneering new T Level qualifications have been announced (Friday 3 July) by Gillian Keegan, Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships.

Engineering industry placement

T Levels – high-quality technical alternatives equivalent to three A Levels – have been created in collaboration with industry experts so students gain the skills they need to succeed in the workplace and so businesses can access the workforce they need to thrive.

A unique part of a T Level will be the completion of a high-quality industry placement – of at least 315 hours, or approximately 45 days – where students will build the knowledge and skills and develop the confidence they need in a workplace environment.

Two new reports published today highlight that providers have found that the government’s Capacity and Delivery Fund (CDF) has made a really positive impact, giving them the opportunity to recruit staff to start preparing for the delivery of T Level industry placements, establish the right infrastructure and procedures within their organisations and to build strong relationships with local employers. Employers also reported that they appreciated the flexibility of the different placement models published last year which made it easier for them to host learners on placements.

The package of support announced today will build on this, helping to make sure employers and FE providers can offer really high quality placements when they start delivering T Levels. It includes:

  • New guidance setting out the key roles and responsibilities for providers and employers, and a new guide for students to help them prepare for their placement, with hands on support and advice so everyone can get the best experience possible.
  • Additional delivery models for employers and providers including new models for the way industry placements can be delivered in the Construction and Engineering & Manufacturing routes, to reflect modern practices, and allowing Capacity and Delivery Fund placements to be delivered over two academic years, to bring them in line with T Levels, with a reduced delivery target of 25% for the 2020/21 academic year, to reflect the impact of the coronavirus on employers.
  • In recognition of the impact of coronavirus on employers, the government will extend the Employer Support Fund pilot, launched in September 2019, to offer financial support to employers in selected regions where funding is a barrier to them hosting high-quality industry placements. The Employer Support Package, a suite of online guidance, case studies and workshops to help employers to host high-quality industry placements, will also continue: and
  • The government will also procure an organisation with the appropriate expertise to support 2020, 2021 and 2022 providers to help them deliver high-quality placements in line with the delivery guidance.

Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills said:

Industry placements will give young people invaluable first-hand experience of the workplace that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere, that is what makes T Levels unique and why they are at the centre of our ambitious plans to transform technical education.

These placements will not only boost student’s confidence and knowledge but will also provide employers with a pipeline of skilled workers for the future, something that will be more important than ever as we recover from coronavirus.

With this new package we are supporting businesses and providers so they are able to give students access to the best possible experiences and ensure all placements are high-quality from the start, so we can set up the next generation for success.

The first three T Levels in Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction, Digital Production, Design and Development and Education and Childcare will be taught from September 2020 with more rolled out gradually between 2021 and 2023. The new qualifications will play a key part in rebuilding the economy after the coronavirus outbreak, boosting access to high-quality technical education for thousands of young people so they can progress to the next level, whether that is getting a job, going on to further study or an apprenticeship.

The government is investing significantly in technical education and training including T Levels. Last year the Chancellor announced an additional £400 million boost for 16 to 19 education in 2020-21, including funding to support the first T Level providers to deliver high-quality courses. A further £133 million will also be invested to ensure students have access to industry standard equipment and high-quality facilities.

Bruce Boughton, People Development Manager, Lovell Partnerships said:

With the ongoing skills shortages in both the construction trades and professions, industry placements give us a chance to see and work with young people as a shortcut in the recruitment process. Having spent nearly three months working with us, they are already part of the team and understand the company and how we work.

Cian Short, Group Apprentice Manager, Bakkavor said:

T Levels have the potential to greatly improve technical education in the UK. With more focus being placed on ‘on the job’ experience through the industry placements, employers will be receiving students who are far better prepared, either to go straight into a role or to join a Higher or Degree Apprenticeship.

For more information on T Levels and industry placements, visit https://www.tlevels.gov.uk/employers

5 Ways to Demonstrate Your College’s Positive Intent and Impact
June 24, 2020
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The following article is by  Anthony Horne – Emsi’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific.

One of the most common areas of discussion I am having with senior management in the Further Education sector right now is that Anthony Horneof “demonstrating positive intent and impact”.

This is perhaps unsurprising, since Ofsted have recently included sections on Intent and Impact in their proposed new Education Inspection Framework.

But with the spotlight on these themes, it is perhaps an opportune time to look at whether we can measure the outcomes of Intent and Impact in a tangible way.

The answer is we can, but what is particularly interesting is how many different angles of measuring Intent and Impact are highlighted by college leaders.

For example, here’s a sample of some of the comments I’ve heard over recent weeks from college principals, about what they would like to be able to measure: Read more

Leeds Utd and Salford Uni Join Forces
May 18, 2020
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@LUFC and @SalfordUni join to create online course for aspiring football industry professionals

A unique course designed for professional football players and those working in the football industry has been launched to boost skills and knowledge.

Footballer kicking a ball

Delivered entirely online, BSc (Hons) Applied Football Studies is aimed at players and those in player facing roles, but could also be of interest to anyone who works or volunteers in football.

The three-year course, a partnership between The University of Salford Business School and Leeds Utd Football Club, with support from Ahead in Sport, combines learning in key areas of the football industry, including leadership, talent development and psychology, with practical business skills.

In particular the course will offer a route for academy players to develop skills and knowledge that could be of huge benefit to them if they do not make it in the professional game.

The course also examines contemporary issues such as the development of the women’s game, opportunities for BAME coaches and financial fair play, whilst it will also offer students the opportunity to examine the repercussions of the current pandemic and its impact on the football industry moving forward.

Taught online and created with full-time football players in mind, the programme recognises football as a significant business in its own right and examines the relationship that exists between sport and business. By following a blended learning approach, it allows those on the course to combine study with the demands of being involved in football such as training and games, which may have previously limited opportunities to access traditional HE routes.

Speaking about the new course, Angus Kinnear, Chief Executive of Leeds Utd Football Club said:

“This is an incredibly innovative course, that will create a bridge for people who want to realise their ambition to work in sport. It can be difficult for us to recruit people with the right skill set and this course will hopefully bridge that gap and provide people with the right skills to thrive.

“And it is a fact that, unfortunately, a lot of academy players won’t make it as professionals, but with this course we can help them grow skills and have the chance of developing a successful career afterwards.”

This is a practical course which builds on experiences as a player or in a player facing role. The aim is to develop strong skills relating to the business of football and provide opportunities for career progression into a wide range of roles across sports industries.

Programme leader from the University of Salford Business School, Nicola McCullough, said: “It has been great to work with Leeds Utd and Ahead in Sport on this course. They provide key knowledge, inside information and experience to ensure the course is providing exactly what the industry needs. 

“Working directly with industry providers is key to our mission at the University of Salford.

“We’re aiming to create the next generation of worldwide football leaders with the skills and the fact that the course is entirely online is perfect for the times we are in.”

Joel Roberts, Director of Operations at Ahead in Sport, said: “Through its on-line delivery this unique course offers the flexibility that full-time players and staff require, whilst the industry-led content reflects the number of opportunities available to those aspiring to be involved in the game, either on or off the pitch.” 

By University of Salford Manchester

The Conservative Government’s Plans for FE
December 16, 2019
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The Tories are to stay in power for another five years – so what will that mean for further education? By Kate Parker

General election: what do the Tories have planned for FE?
A £3bn ‘national skills fund’

The Tories pledged to invest £600 million a year into the fund, which it insists is “new funding on top of existing skills funding”. It expects this would be for a range of courses, including apprenticeships. 

In the manifesto, it says: “And our new £3 billion National Skills Fund, alongside other major investment in skills and training and our reforms to high-skilled immigration, will ensure that businesses can find and hire the workers they need.”

£1.8bn for college buildings

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced in November that the Conservative Party plans to invest £1.8 billion in a further education college rebuilding programme.

Mr Johnson said that the money would, over a five-year period, be used to make sure the entire FE college estate is in “good” – or category B  – condition by refurbishing and redeveloping existing facilities and purchasing industry-standard equipment. 

The manifesto says: “Just as universities have been transformed by significant long-term investment over the last few decades, we need to make sure local colleges are equally excellent places for people to learn. We are therefore investing almost £2 billion to upgrade the entire further education college estate.” 

It also states that, as well as encouraging investment in physical building and equipment, they will help employers invest in skills and look at how to improve the working of the apprenticeship levy.

The Augar review

The manifesto says that the Augar review made “thoughtful recommendations on tuition fee levels, the balance of funding between universities, further education and apprenticeships and adult learning” – and pledged to “consider them carefully”. 

Adult education 

On adult education – which featured heavily in both Labour and Lib Dems’ plans – the Conservative party pledged to “invest in local adult education and require the Office for Students to look at universities’ success in increasing access across all ages, not just young people entering full-time undergraduate degrees.” 

Prison service 

Although it’s not mentioned in the manifesto, the Conservatives did also announce plans to create a dedicated Prison Education Service focused on work-based training and skills in November. 

The policy is part of a programme of prison reform that the party says would “give better chances to offenders once they have been released, double the number of prisoners in employment six weeks after release and reduce reoffending”.

Under a Conservative government, the new Prison Education Service would oversee education and skills training across all jails. It would build upon the new prison education framework issued in April 2019 and “provide a new focus across the whole system on raising educational standards of all prisoners serving sentences in England and Wales”.

Kate Parker
Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a junior FE reporterTwitter: @KateeParker

Responses: Chancellor Announces £400m Investment for 16-19 Year Olds’ Education
September 2, 2019
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Providers of 16-19 education such as further education and sixth form colleges will receive £400 million additional funding to train and teach our young people the skills they need for well-paid jobs in the modern economy, the Chancellor has announced.

The boost is the single biggest annual increase for the sector since 2010.

On a visit to the FE college in Bristol where he studied economics, maths and computer science, Chancellor Sajid Javid said:

Further education, like all our public services, is a lifeline of opportunity for our young people.

We’ll make a strong statement in backing it at this week’s Spending Round and I’ll continue to look at what more we can do to help, just as my FE college opened my horizons and set me on my way.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

As former FE students, the Chancellor and I both know first-hand how important the further education sector is so I’m really pleased that today that government is giving our sixth forms and colleges a major funding boost – the single biggest annual uplift since 2010.

This investment will make sure we can continue to develop world-class technical and vocational education to rival countries on the continent so we have a highly skilled and productive workforce for the future.

This includes protecting and increasing the base rate with funding worth £190 million to boost access to high quality courses for more than a million 16-19 year olds.

Colleges and school sixth forms will also get £120 million to help deliver expensive but crucial subjects such as engineering which lead to higher wages and, ultimately, a more productive economy.

There will be £35 million more for targeted interventions to support students on level 3 courses (A level equivalent) who failed GCSE Maths and English, so they can re-sit their exams in these critical subjects.

Colleges and further education providers will receive an extra £25 million to deliver T-levels. The new qualifications start rolling out in September 2020 and will transform vocational education with two-year courses in subjects as varied as accounting, digital production and onsite construction.

The advanced maths premium, which adds £600 to college budgets for every additional student who takes on A- and AS- level maths, is also funded with £10 million additional funding.

A new £20 million investment will also help the sector to continue to recruit and retain brilliant teachers and leaders, and provide more support to ensure high-quality teaching of T Levels.

The announcement forms part of the Spending Round so covers the financial year 2020-21.

The money announced today will be allocated across the 257 colleges in England, as well as other FE providers, including school sixth forms.

The Barnett formula for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be applied in the usual way with block grant amounts confirmed at the Spending Round.

Sector response to chancellor’s funding for 16-19 year olds’ education pledge

Sir Ian Diamond, Chair of the Independent Commission on the College of the Future said:

“Today’s announcement on increased funding in further education for 16 to 19 year olds in England is welcome news. It reflects recognition in Westminster and Whitehall that colleges are vital public assets which must be funded properly if they are to continue delivering for people and communities.  

“But the political attention cannot end here. We face key challenges, with changes in demography, the world of work, technology, climate and the UK’s place in the world, to name a few. It’s clear that colleges can and must play a significant role in meeting these challenges. This requires further serious policy attention and long-term thinking.

“That’s why we have brought together experts and leaders from across all four corners of the UK to ask the fundamental questions about the role and place of colleges in the future. We are working with colleagues across the education sector, business and beyond to put forward clear recommendations in a final report to be published next Spring. The Commission looks forward to building on today’s promising announcement to ensure colleges across the UK can play the critical role that they must in our communities and for our economy.”

Lawrence Barton, Managing Director, GB Training, said:

“There’s a certain irony that the day after the Government announces the appointment of a new finance Tsar to review the way the Department for Education monitors college financial management it announces plans for a multi-million-pound funding boost for further education colleges.

“Politicians need to learn that the only way they can truly get to grips with the financial mismanagement endemic within the college sector is by encouraging colleges to be more financially competitive and less dependent on state handouts.

“FE funding in England and Wales is so skewed in colleges favour — to the detriment of independent providers — that they’ve been overcome by complacency. Only by encouraging effective competition and weaning colleges off guaranteed funding grants will the Government get a handle on the financial mismanagement plaguing our country’s colleges and driving up teaching standards.”

Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges David Hughes said:

“Colleges have been overlooked and underfunded for far too long. Today’s announcement of an additional £400 million marks the first meaningful investment in further education for 16 to 19 year olds for more than ten years. It’s not enough to reverse the decade of cuts, nor to properly stabilise the sector for the future, but it is a good start. 

“I am delighted that the government has listened to college leaders, MPs, businesses, students and stakeholders, all of whom have made it clear that they want more investment in colleges. The announcement today will start to invest more in our young people with a long overdue increase in the base funding rate for 16- and 17-year olds. This will help support the world-class education and training which colleges provide to help our young people to succeed. 

“We believe that an announcement about funding to cover higher Teacher’s Pension Scheme costs will come separately and look forward to seeing the detail of that. Recent changes to pensions means colleges are locked into schemes which take a rising share of their budgets with no additional support in funding currently.

“Both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister have spoken regularly about the importance of our colleges, and the need to properly invest in them and today they have started to honour that commitment. However adult education was notably absent, with the number of adults in further education almost halving in the last decade, funding is urgently needed to boost opportunities to retrain and tackle skills shortages. 

“I am optimistic that more investment will follow next year when the spending review will be able to set out a longer term settlement to support thriving and vibrant colleges for the long term. We will continue to work with government, and campaign with partners to make sure that colleges continue to be a serious political, economic and social priority. That means long-term, sustainable funding, and a robust lifelong learning system. 

“Schools received a three-year commitment that allows them the chance to plan and deliver – we’ll be pushing government to do the same for colleges in next year’s spending review.”

Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association said:

“This £400 million investment is good news – sixth form education that has been starved of resources over the past decade and today’s announcement provides a much needed boost to the 1.1 million 16 to 18 year olds in colleges and schools across England.

“Around half of this investment will be used to Raise the Rate – the government has obviously listened to the coalition of organisations and MPsand MPs behind the campaign to increase the base rate for sixth formers – and we regard this as a step in the right direction. We need to see more detail on all of today’s announcements, but it is clear that this is the first meaningful investment in mainstream sixth form education for a decade”.

Jo Grady, General Secretary, UCU said:

“Today’s funding announcement comes after months of tireless campaigning by trade unions and the further education sector. It is crucially important that colleges use this funding wisely; staff have borne the brunt of cuts in recent years and closing the £7,000 pay gap between school and college teachers must be the top priority for spending. 

“Any funding is to be welcomed, but we need to be clear that it falls well short of the £3bn needed to restore college budgets to their 2010 levels. It is particularly disappointing that there is no additional funding for adult education, which has seen its budget slashed by over 45% in real terms this decade. The government must dig deeper if it wants to ensure our colleges can deliver transformative education for all those who would benefit.”

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to the Government’s announcement on further education spending, said:

“Once again, this announcement falls woefully short of the Prime Minister’s promise to reverse the Tory cuts to education. This is just a tiny fraction of the amount that further education and sixth forms have lost under the last two Conservative governments. Nor has there been an extra penny for adult education, which has suffered even worse cuts.

“A Labour government will not only end the Tory cuts but provide free lifelong learning in further education colleges as part of our investment in a National Education Service.”

According to the IFS report ‘2018 Annual Report on Education Spending in England’, funding per student aged 16–18 has seen the biggest squeeze of all stages of education for young people in recent yearsSchool sixth forms have faced budget cuts of 21% per student since their peak in 2010–11, while further education and sixth-form college funding per student has fallen by about 8% over the same period.

Labour calculation, based on an analysis by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, has found that spending on further education and skills has fallen by £3.3 billion in real terms between 2010-11 and 2017-18. The cuts have been most severe in adult education, which has seen a real terms cut of nearly £1.7 billion, around 50% of its budget, and further education, which has faced a £1 billion cut that amounts to around 25% of its total budget. 

According to the EPI report “16-19 education funding trends and implications“, the financial health of 16-19 providers has significantly deteriorated since 2010/11: the proportion of those with in-year deficits has increased across all institutions, with a particularly large rise seen in sixth form colleges: a five-fold increase of 7 to 36 per cent from 2010/2011 to 2016/17. An increasing number of local authority schools with sixth forms are in financial difficulty – the proportion with cumulative deficits has risen significantly from 12 per cent of schools in 2010/11 to 22 per cent in 2017/18. In stark contrast, schools without sixth forms have only seen rises of 6 per cent to 9 per cent. Teacher wages in FE colleges are now around 17 per cent lower than for teachers in secondary schools.

The Raise the Rate campaign has found that over a third of schools and colleges (38%) have dropped STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) courses and that more than three quarters of schools and colleges (78%) have reduced or removed student support services or extra-curricular activities.

New Guide on the Further Education system in England
August 30, 2019
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The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has launched a new simple guide on the Further Education system in England.

The guide gives a clear explanation of what the Further Education (FE) sector is, what the different types of providers are in the sector and what opportunities the sector offers for potential learners, their parents, teachers and trainers, and employers.

The FE sector is a large, wide-ranging and significant pillar of the education system offering a range of education and training opportunities, including technical, academic and recreational courses.

The guide has been designed to give a basic overview of the FE sector to everyone whether they are a school-leaver, an adult returning to learning, a parent, policymaker, employer, education providers, a current practitioner or someone looking to start a career as a teacher or trainer.

The ETF developed the guide as part of its role as the government-backed, national workforce development body for the FE sector.

The guide is split into two sections:

  • Part One provides an outline of the different types of FE providers, followed by a summary of some approaches to learning that are prominent in the sector.
  • Part Two outlines some of the different types of qualifications available.

Access the guide by following the link below.

‘So what is the FE Sector?’

David Russell, Chief Executive at the Education and Training Foundation, said:

“Given how central Further Education is to the future of our country and how it forms one of the three central pillars of our education system, it is often been a challenge to explain it easily and simply. We felt this could no longer continue so set ourselves the task of producing a basic and clear guide which can be used by a multitude of different people and audiences as a starting point. “We are confident the guide provides the core information that anyone with an interest in our sector, from learners to leaders and practitioners to policy makers, will find useful.”

Further Education Trust for Leadership: A Series of New Publications Launched
July 16, 2019
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The Further Education Trust for Leadership has had six new publications launched which are each available on the FETL website to be downloaded as a PDF.

Two of the publications can be accessed below. Other topics include:

  • Colleges as Anchors in Their Spaces: A Study in college leadership of place
  • Crossing Boundaries 2: The FE Sector and Permeable Spaces
  • Adult Community Education: Supporting place and people: Characteristics of success
  • Learning at Life Transitions: Supporting learners returning to work or preparing to retire

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