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£18m Extension to Opportunity Area Programme
November 5, 2019
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£18 million announced to extend the Opportunity Area programme to support social mobility in some of the most disadvantaged areas.

Young people in some of the most disadvantaged parts of England are set to benefit from an extra £18 million investment to build on improvements in educational outcomes, careers advice and attracting teachers.

Young girl colouring

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has today announced the Government’s Opportunity Areas (OA) programme will be extended for an additional year, building on its success so far in areas of the country where children have for too long been left behind.

The programme is also showing impact in a wide range of areas from early years education to employment, following an initial £72 million boost for interventions across literacy, maths, attendance, teacher training and recruitment, post-16 options and careers advice since its launch in 2017.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

I grew up in Scarborough, now part of the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area, and having returned recently for a visit I’ve seen for myself the progress being made and the difference it is making to young people living there.

Ability is evenly spread across the country, but opportunity isn’t. We’re determined to put right the wrongs of places left behind and see the Opportunity Area programme grow – helping local leaders and schools to tackle some of the greatest challenges young people face.

It’s not just about what happens now in these 12 areas but the impact these projects will have on future generations and paving the way for them to overcome obstacles to success.

The programme has been operating in 12 Opportunity Areas across the country – Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, North Yorkshire Coast, West Somerset, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent. Areas were chosen because they face some of the most entrenched obstacles to social mobility and were set up to improve outcomes and increase opportunities for all young people in these areas.

West Somerset has shown progress in early years’ development, with performance historically below the national average for pupil outcomes at the end of reception year, but now showing year on year improvements. The Story Start scheme is one of a range of early years’ initiatives, supporting families in rural areas to play, chat and read to boost their child’s development so they can start school with the skills needed to thrive.

Across all the Opportunity Areas around 60,000 young people have also been given the chance to develop life skills like resilience, teamwork, problem-solving, confidence and leadership thanks to a share of the £22 million Essential Life Skills programme.

Today’s funding extends the programme into a fourth year, which will run until August 2021, to help sustain long term improvements and outcomes.

Schemes put in place to improve maths are showing signs of success across some Opportunity Areas. In Ipswich, six weeks of Saturday maths classes provide targeted support, free bus travel and food for disadvantaged Year 11s at risk of not getting a GCSE level 4 or 5, with the first 75 pupils enrolled showing an average boost in predicted grades of 1.3 in comparison to the start of the programme.

Investigation into University Technical Colleges – Sector Response
November 1, 2019
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The National Audit Office (NAO) has published an “Investigation into UTCs” report on university technical colleges. UTCs are a type of free school that focus on providing technical education, mainly to students aged 14 to 19.

This investigation sets out the facts about the UTC programme. It covers how the programme has progressed and the financial and educational performance of UTCs. The investigation also examines the Department for Education’s plans to improve UTCs.

Meg Hillier 100x100

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said:

“£792 million pounds has been spent but UTCs are running under capacity, often perform less well than other secondary schools and just under half of those inspected either require improvement or are inadequate.  

“UTCs were set up to improve technical education but 17% of UTCs that opened have since closed, leaving hard-pressed local authorities to find alternative places for the students affected. 

“This report provides further evidence as to why the Department for Education is my top department of concern.”

Jo Grady 100x100

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

‘In too many cases, University Technical Colleges have proved to be expensive failures that took funds away from the further education sector at a time when it most needed support.

‘If the government really wants to improve the standing of technical education, it must ensure that the further education sector as a whole is well-supported to deliver it. That means building capacity across the board because without proper investment, this perennial conversation about the problems facing technical education is doomed to repeat itself.’

Lord Baker100x100

Lord Baker, Chairman Baker Dearing Educational Trust said;

“This report records the price of everything and the value of nothing. UTCs should be judged by the success of their students becoming apprentices, studying STEM subjects at a University and getting a job as a technician or an engineer. For that we have the best destination data of any schools in the country.

“Because of this the Department has encouraged us to make applications for new UTCs and we are working with local employers and universities for the next round in November.”

The key findings of this report relate to:

  • The number of UTCs that have opened, and the number that have subsequently closed as UTCs
  • What capacity UTCs are operating at
  • The financial position of UTCs and formal intervention by the Education and Skills Funding Agency
  • How much has been spent on the UTC programme
  • How Ofsted rates UTCs compared with other secondary schools
  • What proportion of students from UTCs go on to become apprentices, compared with other secondary schools
  • What the Department for Education’s plans for improving UTCs are
£19 Million Vital Support for Care Leavers Announced
October 24, 2019
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#ECLCM – Multi-million pound settlement and cross-Government action announced to help young #CareLeavers

  • £10 million to create stable homes for care leavers as they become adults
  • £6 million to support young people leaving care to live independently
  • £3 million pupil premium plus to help care leavers into further education
  • 1,000 new paid internships for care leavers by 2022 in the police, fire service, defence civilian roles, and health service to help these young people into skilled employment

Access to better housing, healthcare and employment opportunities are at the core of a new multi-million pound settlement to improve the life chances of vulnerable young people leaving care.

Marking #NationalCareLeaversWeek, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has today (Wednesday 23 October) announced the new cross-government support available to young people leaving the care system, alongside £19 million of investment into programmes that directly benefit care leavers.

The new funding includes £10 million to create stable homes for care leavers as they become adults; £6 million to support young people leaving care to live independently and £3 million to help care leavers go into further education.

Chaired by Mr Williamson and Minister for the Cabinet Office, Oliver Dowden, the new Care Leaver Covenant Board, will comprise of Secretaries of State from across relevant government departments and will meet three times a year to address the key barriers facing young care leavers as the adjust to independent life as adults: finding a suitable, safe place to live, supporting them to remain in education, employment or training, and helping them access appropriate healthcare. It will also look at how to support councils to employ adolescent mental health workers in every leaving care team in the country.

Alongside this, the Education Secretary has committed to delivering 1,000 internships for care leavers over the next two years to help secure long term, quality jobs for care leavers. This will include expanding the existing Civil Service Internship Scheme which has offered permanent jobs to 220 care leavers across Whitehall and working with other public sector bodies including the NHS, Ministry of Defence civilian roles, police and the fire service to support care leavers into new employment opportunities. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said

“Young people leaving care face enormous barriers in their lives as they move towards independence, from not having a trusted person in their life to rely on, to not having a safe home to return to at the end of the day.

“Housing, healthcare and education are three of the biggest obstacles they have to overcome. We all have a responsibility to do better for them – so I’m bringing together colleagues from across government to join me in transforming the support we offer care leavers in all of these key areas to make the biggest difference in their lives.

“This starts immediately, because we must raise the bar for these young people, to give them greater stability and a strong sense of purpose in adulthood.”

The new offer for care leavers builds on existing work by the Department for Education to tackle the root causes for children being taken into care, through projects designed to strengthen families and support stable home lives for vulnerable children so that they can stay with their birth families when it is safe to do so and in that child’s best interest. It adds to extra funding announced last week to help adoptive families build strong relationships and overcome past trauma, and practical support announced earlier this month for foster families in the form of short breaks, mentoring and social activities.

In addition to the new internships and ministerial group, the full package of new announcements includes:

  • £10 million to expand Staying Put, a programme designed to create stable homes for care leavers as they become adults. The programme will help more care leavers to continue living with their foster families until they reach 21. This will the stability will boost their numbers in employment or staying in education and make a smooth transition into living independently.
  • £6 million in 2021/22 to roll out Staying Close across the country, helping young people leaving residential care to continue to get on-going support from their previous carers they know and trust, which will help them to successfully live independently.
  • £3 million to extend the Pupil Premium Plus to all 16-18 year old care leavers, supporting their transition into further education. This is to help them be ambitious in their choice of qualifications and to make sure that there is a greater chance that they will complete their chosen course.

This transformation in support for care leavers will help improve their outcomes, addressing the number of those aged 19 to 21 who are deemed ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET). Almost 40% of care leavers are NEET compared to 13% for this age group overall. The new internships, each being a one-year paid offer, are designed to lead to full-time job offers, and follows an expansion of the civil service internship scheme for care leavers from 2021, which is currently offering 220 internships across 25 departments in the next year.

Expanding the scheme is part of the government’s drive to provide care leavers with opportunities to learn new skills in a range of employment areas, whether the police, or other public bodies.  

The ministerial group will agree key goals across relevant policy areas which will be scrutinised by members, which will include the Secretaries of State from the Minister of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Department of Health and Social Care and Home Office.   

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Oliver Dowden, said:

“My role in the Cabinet Office is to pull together all the different parts of government, so that they work together on the issues that really matter. Through better coordination we can massively improve the support that’s available to young people leaving the care system and make sure they can become independent adults with a bright future ahead of them.”

Ian Dickson, Chair of the Conference for Care Experienced People which met with Mr Williamson on Monday to mark National Care Leavers Week, said:

“The Education Secretary listened very attentively and reflected that our commitment to ‘care experienced’ people should be a lifelong one – similar to the commitment we make towards members of the Armed Forces. We thought he really got it: care experience is a continuous lifetime experience bringing different needs at different stages that may not accord with the statutory definition of care and leaving care. Care does not end at 18, 21 or 25.”

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. 

75% of Traineeships Lead to Apprenticeships or Jobs
June 26, 2019
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A new achievement rate measure will be introduced to boost transparency around traineeships, according to the government

Three-quarters of young people who complete a traineeship go onto start an apprenticeship, further study or get a job within 12 months, the Department for Education has said.

The number traineeships fell for the first time in 2017 and, at the time, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) urged the government to take action to save the programme.

Traineeships are an education and training programme aimed at helping 16- to 24-year-olds to prepare for an apprenticeship or work. They were launched by the coalition government in 2013.

The DfE has announced that a new achievement rate measure will be introduced for the academic year 2019-20 in a bid to boost transparency and highlight the progress of trainees.

The measure will help the government to monitor the effectiveness of the traineeship programme, and assist young people in making decisions about their futures.

In order to encourage more people into traineeships, the government is providing £20 million through the Adult Education Budget for further education and training providers.

‘A positive step’

Apprenticeship and skills minister Anne Milton said that traineeships were a great way of giving people of all ages and from all backgrounds the opportunity to learn new skills and go on to have successful careers.

“I’m thrilled that this report shows how traineeships are supporting young people to start their apprenticeship journey, get their first job or go to further study,” she added.

“This new measure we have launched today will also provide greater transparency and help young people make informed decisions about their next steps.”

Mark Dawe, AELP chief executive, said that the announcement was a positive step towards reinvigorating traineeships, and encouraging more young people to take advantage of the programme.

“AELP particularly welcomes the separate measurements of achievement confirming the programme’s original objectives of progression into an apprenticeship, job or further education.  

“In the light of this, we will be urging providers to seriously take a fresh look at traineeships with a view to increasing the number of opportunities available,” he said.

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: 

“It is important that we do not lose the stepping stone programmes that allow people to progress to the levels of competence that employers are seeking. These changes will help recognise the many positive outcomes from traineeships which colleges are helping to achieve,” he said.

Copies of Presentations Explaining T Levels
June 25, 2019
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As T Levels are gaining momentum more organisations are sharing their knowledge about them.

The following are copies of presentations made to the CDI by Sue Clarke from DfE and Gatsby.

 Gatsby T Levels Awareness Raising CDI 2019

Intro to T Levels – CDI

 

Free Courses and New Qualifications Launched to Boost Essential Digital Skills for Adults
April 25, 2019
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Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton unveils new qualifications based on rigorous national standards to give adults the digital skills they need.

Free courses will be offered to thousands of people to help the 1 in 5 adults with no or low basic digital skills learn how to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

The new qualifications, unveiled on 23rd  April 2019 by Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Anne Milton, will be based on new, rigorous national standards and will be available for free to anyone over the age of 19 from 2020.

They have been designed to help adults learn the essential skills, such as sending emails, completing online forms or using a tablet, that many people take for granted.

Research shows that digital skills have become as important in getting a job and being part of society as English and Maths. An estimated 90% of all jobs in the next 20 years will require some form of digital knowledge, but one in five adults still lack these skills. Read more

10 Key Facts the DfE Want Us To Know About The Apprenticeship #Levy
April 8, 2019
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The following was published by the Department for Education on 5th April 2019

The apprenticeship levy is celebrating its two year anniversary. Here’s what you should know.

Two years ago, we introduced the apprenticeship levy to create long term sustainable funding for apprenticeships and to give employers more control to provide their staff with a range of training opportunities.

The levy means there is more money available than ever before for apprenticeship training and allows employers to choose which apprenticeships they offer, how many and when. By 2019-20 the funding available for investment in apprenticeships in England will have risen to over £2.5 billion, double what was spent in 2010-11 in cash terms. Read more

Damien Hinds Insists Apprenticeship Reform is Working
March 5, 2019
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Education secretary Damian Hinds has insisted the UK’s workplace training is “coming of age” with the apprenticeship levy, and defended restrictions in the new system that many businesses complain about.

Mr Hinds, speaking ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, which started on Monday, accepted companies had “frustrations” with the system.

But he said increasing numbers of employees had been taking up high quality apprenticeships since large companies and public sector organisations were required by the government in 2017 to contribute the equivalent of 0.5 per cent of their total wage bill to fund workplace training.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Hinds also said the UK’s looming departure from the EU made the task of reinvigorating skills-based training more urgent.

“Brexit should be a skills moment,” added Mr Hinds, who campaigned for Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum. “It should be about development of the workforce, about improving our productivity and education.”

The CBI, the employers’ organisation, said in January the government’s reform of workplace training had proved frustrating for many companies because of the system’s inflexibility, noting there was a shortage of appropriate courses on which to spend money raised by the apprenticeship levy. Read more

AELP & DfE Complimentary Workshops: T Levels – Purpose and Planning
February 19, 2019
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Tuesday, 12 March 2019 – Hilton Leeds City, Leeds
Thursday, 21 March 2019 – etc.venues Victoria, London

Overview

The current T level proposals are part of a wider approach to the reform of technical education that it is vital all in our sector understand. Providers have recently been invited to express an interest to deliver the programme in 2021 to 2022 academic year, including the transition offer. Supported by DfE and in association with the Gatsby Foundation, AELP is running this half-day workshop that will enable those still unfamiliar with T levels to understand more about what they are and how they will work, and give those with more knowledge the chance to encourage planning ahead for how their introduction may impact on current provision and provide opportunities for new provision going forward.

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