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NYA Toolkit & Covid-19 IAG
June 26, 2020
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The National Youth Agency (NYA) as the Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body for youth work in England has, in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive, developed youth sector specific advice and guidance.

The guidance will support local providers, leaders, volunteers and young people to remain safe when engaging in youth sector activities. It is intended to guide the youth sector in opening up services for young people at the right pace and time.

This guidance must be used in conjunction with the readiness framework and your existing safeguarding policies and procedures. It is complementary to government guidance on social distancing, travel and other measures which must be adhered to.

https://nya.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/0877-NYA-Activity-guide-COVID-19-final_17_06_20-1.pdf

https://nya.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/0877-NYA-Readiness-Toolkit.pdf

Additional tools and resources to support this guidance can be found here

Freedom of Choice to Prevail in post-COVID-19 Work Styles
June 25, 2020
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Employees will want more freedom in where they choose to work following the coronavirus pandemic.

Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) found since the introduction of mandatory remote working, many employees had the chance to exercise more, spend time with family and time to think and reflect.

Almost two thirds (62%) of people said they wanted to work from home more on a regular basis. 

Some respondents discussed wanting to spend the majority of their time at home, or have an equal split between home and office. 

Of those who said they wanted to work from home more often generally, more than a quarter (27%) of them wanted to do so more than one day per week. 

Gemma Dale, lecturer at LJMU and report author, said HR now risked employees leaving if it did not offer more flexible working choices.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “There is a potential risk that where this demand to work from home isn’t met and requests are turned down, employees may choose to seek an employer that will allow them more flexibility in their working lives. 

“An economic recession may lead to a depressed job market – so these implications may take some time to be felt, unlike morale and employee engagement which could take an immediate hit.”

Yet Dale said a lack of flexibility in some organisations can create opportunities in others.

She added: “I do however think there is an opportunity for those organisations that do need to recruit now – if they can allow some homeworking on an ongoing basis it can be a talent acquisition opportunity, especially where employees feel that their current employer won’t be supportive.” 

The research recommended that more employers should consider home working to support employee wellbeing, reduce the carbon footprint of commuting, attract and retain talented employees, support the reduction of the gender pay gap and improve productivity. 

The research authors therefore said that where workplaces should help employees set up effective workspaces. 

Many employees noted a lack of hardware such as printers and monitors while working from home, plus using unsuitable desks and chairs given many are sharing spaces with family and using home spaces such as kitchen. 

The study has led to a series of recommendations for HR to prepare for the increase in demand for homeworking.

These included taking feedback from employees about challenges and benefits, determining an overall approach for homeworking and reviewing flexible working and homeworking policies. 

The survey also pointed to practical challenges of the pandemic such as technology, appropriate work spaces, childcare, home-schooling and stress and anxiety. 

Dale added: “We didn’t see a significant amount of people saying they were working longer hours, although there were challenges around establishing boundaries between work and home. This did not however seem to have dissuaded them from doing more homeworking.” 

Yet despite these challenges, many respondents had experienced more flexibility and freedom and wanted to retain it, the report’s authors said. 

The survey ran for three weeks in May and early June and had over 500 responses, generating 3,000 qualitative responses. 

ESFA Reveals Covid Financial Support Offer for 16-19 Private Training Providers

Private training providers whose recruitment of 16 to 19 students has been “limited” due to Covid-19 have been offered financial support to ease budget pressures.

From 22nd June 2020, independent learning providers (ILPs) can make a business case to the Education and Skills Funding Agency to prevent clawback of any underperformance they have experienced for this group of learners.

The ESFA said:

“ILPs may be recruiting fewer part-time students than they would normally recruit between March 2020 to July 2020.

“This will impact on the level of funding that these students would usually attract and will result in clawback of funds for 2019 to 2020.

“The ESFA will support ILPs whose recruitment of students, to a 16 to 19 study programme, have been limited due to the lockdown situation and who have faced clawback for under performance.”

For approved cases, the ESFA said it will base the expected delivery in March to July on the previous year’s delivery for students recruited between 1 March 2019 and 31 July 2019, taking up to half of this into account.

In addition, the agency will “add the actual delivery for students recruited between March 2020 and July 2020, up to a maximum of 100 per cent of the 2018 to 2019 funded delivery for March 2019 to July 2019”.

No clawback relief will be possible if the cash delivery in 2019 to 2020 exceeds the cash delivery in 2018 to 2019 for the period from 1 March to 31 July for each year.

The ESFA added that to further support ILPs, they are extending the clawback period to include January 2021 to March 2021.

“The clawback that is planned for July 2020 will be included into the re-profiling, from August 2020 to March 2021. This does not need to be requested and will be shown in the R10 reconciliation statement.

“There may be a small number of exceptions where a risk to ESFA and public funds is identified. In these instances, we cannot delay July 2020 clawback, but we will extend the clawback profile until March 2021.”

The ESFA made clear this funding support is a “one-off” in response to the unexpected disruption caused by the arrival of coronavirus and ILPs should “not expect this to be repeated in future”.

ILPs making a business should also “not seek” support from government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to furlough staff whose salaries are paid from continuing ESFA or any other public income.

“ILPs submitting a business case must demonstrate they have not received support from the CJRS to furlough staff involved in the continued direct delivery of provision remotely of 16 to 19 study programmes and where possible recruitment of 16 to 19 students between March 2020 to July 2020,” the ESFA said.

“The Department for Education is considering appropriate measures to monitor use of claims from CJRS in order to detect any duplication of public funding and will be considering potential options to recover misused public funding as required.”

Why Transparent Leadership is Clearly Important Now
June 22, 2020
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ARTICLE BY: Michelle Moss, Director of Assessments – Signium Africa | First Published: 17 MAY 2020 |theHRDirector

If we’re learning anything from the current crisis, it’s that legacy authoritarian-style leadership has no place in businesses constrained by the covid-19 virus.

hands-on-or-heads-off

Even before the pandemic, the world was demanding a more collaborative and consultative style of leadership based on transparency. Today, transparency is so much more critical to an organisation’s survival, as an attribute of both those who lead it and the creative culture that drives it forward.

The most obvious requirement is open communication. This is especially true when it comes to allaying the fears of employees and suppliers who are uncertain about the company’s ability to pay them. Or clients who are unsure of the business’s ongoing satisfaction of their needs. It’s essential to keep these parties informed. Yet, relaying every little fact to stakeholders can create confusion about what is actually being said, inevitably hampering transparency. So communication should be structured to deliver only relevant facts in a timely manner.

If the new way of leading people is by collaborating with them, then collecting and considering their ideas becomes a natural part of the process of developing business solutions. This is another area in which transparency is vital. Employees who feel they are involved in their company’s future will often contribute their suggestions and time enthusiastically. But if the final decision appears to exclude their input, they may feel undervalued and withhold further participation.

Why should employers care? One 2017 study suggests that the more transparent leaders are, the more creative their employees will be. Further, in times of uncertainty, like the current period, companies that are creative are more able to survive a crisis and emerge stronger afterwards. So it benefits leaders to be open about how they arrived at their decision and how each idea helped, even if it wasn’t incorporated into the solution.

True transparency calls for emotional intelligence (EQ), not just in considering employee concerns but also in the courage to face one’s own limitations and accept assistance. When leaders admit that they don’t know what will happen and what the impact of COVID-19 will be, they can build rapport with their workers and gain their support. Those who “stay strong”, ignore input and stonewall employees will not enjoy the trust they need to push forward.

High EQ leaders show integrity by not pretending to have all the answers and embracing the strengths of the entire organisation to find creative solutions. They’re consistently open about their policies for managing people and evaluating performance, choosing suppliers impartially, communicating with staff and stakeholders, and much more.

The most important outcome of transparency in leadership is a culture of transparency in the workplace, physical or virtual. This means that people can express themselves without fear of judgment or reprisal, because a confident leader uses even conflicting opinions to ignite creativity and uncover new business opportunities.

However, employee transparency must be offered and not demanded. Employers should respect that, especially under work-from-home conditions, staff have other roles to fulfil and should not have to sacrifice their privacy or private information. By recognising this, and even developing policies to protect employee privacy, transparent leaders show they care and will enjoy respect and loyalty in return.

ViewPoint: Covid 19 and Remote Working: Beware the ‘TEMPLE OF ZOOM’
June 15, 2020
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ARTICLE BY Ab Banerjee

Just as in nature, survival among businesses is determined by the ability to adapt to change. 

It’s estimated that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic a quarter of the world’s population now finds itself living under some form of quarantine restrictions. Hundreds of millions of workers spread across multiple continents all suddenly find themselves forced to work remotely and in isolation from their teams. This detachment risks a loss of staff cohesion, a collapse in productivity and, ultimately, a decline in overall commercial function.

Everyday face-to-face interaction in the workplace between co-workers themselves and their managers is often valuable for all parties. We can use it to pose questions, offer updates, gather feedback, read body language, benchmark our performance and, ultimately, collate the information to inform our decision-making. But, by losing the close physical proximity of the working environment we lose this feedback mechanism.

Overcommunication and the rise of the ‘Temple of Zoom’
Organisations have recognised this loss and have looked to compensate. The event and conference provider, TED, for example, has begun creating virtual spaces where staff can have the simulated experience of working alongside their co-workers in a relaxed coffee shop environment. More common, though, is the widespread embrace of videoconferencing platforms, such as Zoom, and online team collaboration tools like Slack.

There are few winners from the coronavirus crisis, but Zoom is one of them. It’s been used to host birthday parties, business meetings and even Cabinet briefings. App tracking firm Apptopia has reported that Zoom was downloaded 2.13m times around the world on 23 March, the day the lockdown was announced in the UK – up from 56,000 a day two months earlier. The company’s share price has more than doubled since the start of the year.

The difficulty is applications such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams have their pitfalls. In a bid to compensate for the loss of everyday informal interaction, managers and co-workers often lean towards having more phone calls, scheduling more frequent videoconferences, and sending more emails. All of a sudden momentary and informal discussions in the office have escalated into regular, lengthy video seminars involving multiple team members and often with no guarantee employees will gain the knowledge they’re looking for. Communication overloads. Productivity slumps.

Providing an effective feedback and performance mechanism
Platforms such as Zoom are effective for brainstorming sessions and formal business meetings, but they shouldn’t be relied upon as an effective forum for receiving feedback and performance assessment. Not everything you see on people’s faces is necessarily easy to interpret. Also, in group settings it’s almost impossible to get a sense of how you (and even more importantly your team) are perceived. 

A key challenge facing managers is how to provide remote workers with an effective facility through which they can receive feedback and measure their cooperation with co-workers.

We’ve spent lots of time looking at and understanding how teams interact and deliver feedback. We’ve developed a tracking metric for team cooperation called TeamScore which acts as a performance tracker for use by teams, both in the office and remotely. It combines a diagnostic toolkit to help teams understand where they need to improve, and crowdsourced feedback and coaching advice to understand how they can.

In a remote working environment, the need for feedback becomes heightened, but the capacity to receive it is reduced. By providing team members with a platform through which they can individually, and as a team, receive and offer real-time feedback in the form of performance ratings and constructive suggestions for improvement satisfies this need. It helps individuals and teams find meaning by being empowered to do good work whilst also being recognised for it. Importantly, it also does so without the disruption associated with having multiple videoconferences.

Cooperation is also a two-way street. The feeling of having a voice, being heard, and seeing tangible improvements in outcomes is among the most empowering enablers of employee engagement and one of the opportunities most at risk from remote working. The platform gives remote working individuals and teams the ability to give feedback to others too, whether to individuals, to other teams or even to teams external to their organisation.

This last element, the provision of an effective feedback mechanism to individuals and teams in external organisations, such as a client or other important stakeholders is in some ways even more critical. Struggling to adapt to remote working themselves, often these teams will have an even lower tolerance and capacity for frequent, disruptive Zoom calls to deliver feedback. This leaves the provider in search of an alternative option. Less invasive, online, real-time and interactive platforms like ViewsHub satisfy this function.

Beyond Zoom
The coronavirus pandemic has brought massive change to all our lives. Remote working is one. Technological innovations such as Zoom are invaluable tools to help maintain team cohesion and function. But we must be careful of overreliance and overcommunication. Online real-time feedback platforms and easily digestible performance trackers for team performance offer the facility to boost productivity, encourage effective team working, and continually track client-service levels. 

Ab Banerjee, CEO of ViewsHub

Leaders are Failing to Communicate with Employees During Coronavirus
June 12, 2020
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Nearly half of employees say communication is the area their leadership most needs to improve during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a nationwide survey of 16,000 workers, Hays recruitment found 43% said leaders needed to improve communication, well ahead of areas such as strategy and planning (23%) and remote staff management (13%). 

A third of employees said they have contact with their manager less than once a week and just 29% said they contact their manager on a daily basis.

This has decreased in recent months according to over a third (34%) who said the amount of contact they have with their manager has reduced since lockdown. 

Speaking to HR magazine Yvonne Smyth, director of Hays Human Resources, said that although the current circumstances are unusual, leaders should know how to adapt their strategy.

She said: “A leader used to being in an office setting should also be perfectly capable to lead well remotely. The clear differences are the need for leaders to be more visible to their teams, which will rely on clear, transparent and authentic communication and making sure people know when to expect to hear from you.”

Leading well, Smyth added, is also a question of trust. She added: “If you’ve previously only led a team who you can see and talk to each day in an office setting, transitioning to having everyone working remotely can initially be unsettling if you can’t physically talk to/see everyone. 

“Leaders must learn to shake off any mistrust and assumptions if you and your team are to succeed in the new era of work, whereby remote work will no doubt be much more common.”

A lack of contact has impacted working relationships, with 20% of employers reporting relationships with their team have been more distant since lockdown began. 

This is shared by employees given 40% do not have access to a work support network while working remotely. 

To alleviate isolation in the workforce Smyth said: “It’s important HR support employees by facilitating regular opportunities for them to check in with their employer. Team meetings and 1-2-1s should still be on the agenda, but as staff won’t bump into one another organically at work, make sure to organise social sessions like virtual coffee mornings and quizzes.

“These can also include any employees who are on furlough leave, as it’s important that they too are able to catch up and discuss what’s on their minds.”

Despite employee criticism, for 40% of respondents, communication is the aspect of their organisation which has undergone the most change since the coronavirus outbreak, ahead of people (24%) and processes (22%). 

Over half (51%) rated their leadership’s response to the coronavirus outbreak so far as excellent or good, while 49% said their leadership’s response has been OK to poor.

As employees are gradually starting to be reintegrated into the workplace, Smyth said it would also be critical for HR to advise leadership on agile working strategy.

“Hybrid working patterns are likely to be here to stay so understanding flexible working practices and options which suit individuals and organisations is key.

“HR functions can be of huge value here by informing leaders of agile working practices from flexible working to job shares and part time hours.”

AoC Events & Webinars
June 5, 2020
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Scheduled online events 

Click on the titles to find out more details and how to register. More details will be added daily so do please check back.

June

July

Previous Webinars

Coronavirus Communications Webinar

Online Forum – Home Learning: next steps post Easter (recorded 01.04.20)

College governance and COVID-19: sizing the problem and addressing the risk (03.04.20)

A level and GCSE summer assessments, 2020 implications for colleges (recorded 07.04.20)

Vocational and technical qualifications update (recorded 21.04.20)

AoC Apprenticeships in the Current Climate Webinar Recording (23.04.20)

AoC/Ofsted Sector Dialogue Webinar (23.04.20)

Webinar: Supporting SEND students both in mainstream and specialist provision (recording)

Webinar: How to manage centre and assessed ranking for GCSE and A Level’s (recorded 07.05.20)

Supporting Student Mental Health Remotely Webinar (recorded 12.05.20)

Managing Positive Industrial Relations Webinar (recorded 19.05.20)

How to manage centre assessment vocational and technical qualifications webinar (recorded 22.05.20)

Cashflow and Solvency Webinar (recorded 22.05.20)

Finance series –  Webinar 1: Setting 2020-1 budgets 

Report: WHERE DO I GO FOR CAREERS SUPPORT?
June 5, 2020
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In April 2020, Careers England and the Career Development Institute (CDI) in partnership with dmh associates, conducted an online survey to identify how careers companies and careers professionals in England were responding to the impact of Covid-19 and the social distancing lockdown measures.

View the full report here

The main purpose was to investigate how careers companies and practitioners were responding to customer needs and to identify current trends and recommendations to inform public policy.

The survey took place between 24th April 2020 to 10th May 2020. This was primarily aimed at careers companies and practitioners in England1 . The findings highlight a key question for citizens during and after the pandemic is where do I go to for careers support?

Main recommendations include the urgent need for:

 a national Youth Employment Taskforce with cross-departmental ‘buy in’ and joint action plan. Government departments to adopt a more joined up approach, particularly between DWP and DfE, including the National Retraining Service, to clearly signpost individuals to quality-assured career development professionals’ support services.

• every young person in school or college aged 16 -19 (in Years 11-13) to be immediately guaranteed a careers interview with a trained and qualified career development professional to ameliorate the effects of exams cancelled and to ensure young people’s progress is not impeded. This would ensure young people would have as a minimum careers support contact worker and a personalised plan. The Department for Education (DfE) has a duty of care to these young people.

• an enhancement of the existing September guarantee so that all young people, particularly those facing the likelihood of unemployment including apprentices and trainees, receive careers coaching, guidance and/or mentoring support.

 a highly visible national media campaign to promote careers support available to young people and adults, including telephone helpline, web resources and where to find local careers advice from trained and qualified careers advisers/ coaches.

 a broadening of the National Careers Service to include face-to-face careers support for all young people, similar to other parts of the UK i.e. a recognisable place to go for high quality careers support. The role and remit of the Careers and Enterprise Company should also be reviewed in this context and the DfE / Education and Skills Founding Agency (ESFA) should revisit and assess the efficacy of the current Payment-By-Results arrangement.

 a local careers support framework in each local authority/local enterprise partnership (LEP) area designed to champion young people to employers with a relentless focus on opportunities, particularly those with special educational needs (SEN) at risk of being pushed further away from the labour market.

 a minimum guaranteed income for those most vulnerable to assist and support their transition to learning, training and/or work.

• a system in place for career development professionals to track destinations and offer additional wrap around support for those most vulnerable and those not in education, employment and/or training (NEETs).Whilst this is a Local Authority responsibility, it is not carried out to the standard that was provided a decade ago given Local Authorities budget cuts – greater investment is needed at the present time.

The National Careers Service in England already works with Local Authorities, Community Groups, Colleges, Housing Associations, Voluntary organisations etc., serving the needs of adults. More recently, area-based contractors have a new responsibility for providing a telephone helpline service.

Prior to the pandemic, European and world organisations called on governments to invest in career guidance. Many employment support programmes start with CV writing or providing evidence of job search; however, the first challenge for many people who experience job loss or other barriers is to build their confidence, understand their own interests and skills, and identify opportunities that might fit them well.

Whilst many careers companies and careers professionals currently feel under-valued by government in England, they know for sure that in whatever scenario that lies ahead their services will be needed and they are poised and ready to respond.

Share your views with dmh associates here.

Ofsted to Review Students’ and Apprentices’ Online Further Education Experience
June 4, 2020
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Ofsted is carrying out an exploratory review of the quality of learners’ experiences of online education in further education and skills settings during the COVID-19-affected summer term.

Smiling girl with coffee cup

Ofsted is working with the Department for Education (DfE), the Association of Colleges (AoC), the Association of Employer and Learning Providers (AELP) and HOLEX to review further education learners’ experience of online learning during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) lockdown.

The review aims to provide insights into the sector’s experiences of online education and to identify areas of strength and potential for improvement. This will support post-16 providers re-visiting their online education strategies, particularly from September 2020 onwards. The review will look at the online education that providers are delivering in light of the necessary social distancing measures

Her Majesty’s Inspectors will carry out the review during June and will speak remotely to managers, teachers and trainers in volunteer further education colleges and skills providers to discuss their delivery of online teaching and learning.

In particular, inspectors will speak to students and apprentices about their experience of learning online and the support they have received for this. This will be done by phone and a report on the findings will be published in due course.

The review is not an inspection. There will be no inspection judgements and no inspection consequences for the provider. Involvement in the review is entirely voluntary.

Data gathered during the review will be confidential and staff, students and apprentices will not be identified.

Leadership, Learning and Lockdown
May 26, 2020
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A new paper from FETL reflects on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on education leadership and considers what lessons can be learned as we look towards an uncertain and, almost certainly, very different future.

The Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL) has published a new paper highlighting the challenges faced by the education system, and education leaders, in particular, in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown.

This FETL monograph, Leadership, learning and lockdown: First thoughts on lessons for leadership from the coronavirus crisis, by Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, gives an inside view of how staff, leaders and institutions are coping with the unprecedented circumstances in which they find themselves.
The crisis has obliged education institutions to adopt new ways of working, almost overnight. This paper gives draws lessons from the crisis for leaders and learning, outlining cautious but informed conclusions about the ‘new normal’ that will emerge from the pandemic.

Dame Ruth Silver, President of FETL, said: ‘This is a hugely welcome contribution that reflects on the challenges the COVID-19 crisis has posed for learning and its leaders and asks what it can tell us about leadership and the future of education. The transition from face-to-face teaching to online and distance learning placed significant and unprecedented demands on leaders, their institutions and staff. The response in further education, and in the education system more generally, has been remarkable, but there are also important lessons to be learned from all of this, and this FETL monograph begins the process.

‘We are on the verge of a new and unpredictable normal that we, as leaders, have, to an equally unpredictable extent, an opportunity to shape. In these difficult and challenging times, when the present can seem all-consuming, it is more critical than ever that we try to fix our gaze on the future that is emerging from the crisis and on the potential role of FE and skills within that. I would like to express my respect and gratitude to Sir Chris for rising to the call so eloquently and offering some direction and foresight from within the heart of the storm.’

For more information on this or other FETL publications, contact: enquiries@fetl.org.
 
Click here to download a free PDF copy