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Have Your Say on Post-16 Level 2 and Below Study
November 12, 2020
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Views sought on how to boost study at level 2 and below so more students progress into jobs or further study.

Published 10 November 2020From: Department for Education

A call for evidence seeking views on how to ensure post-16 qualifications at level 2 and below – excluding GCSEs – can support more people to progress into further study or employment, has been launched (10 November) by Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan.

Access the Online Survey Here

Qualifications at level 2 (GCSE equivalent) and below can be the springboard that supports large numbers of young people and adults to access higher levels of study, unlock employment opportunities, re-engage in education and secure English, maths and digital skills.

However, new analysis published by the Department for Education has revealed that 60% of 16 year olds who study a classroom based level 2 course do not move on to study at level 3 (A Level or T Level equivalent) the following year. It also highlights that 37% of students who leave education with a level 2 qualification find it harder to get a job, compared to 14% of students who leave with a level 3 qualification.

Making sure everyone can access high quality qualifications that give them the skills they need to secure a good job and that provide employers with the skilled workforce they and the economy need to build back better from coronavirus, is a priority for the government. The call for evidence builds on the action already underway to overhaul the post-16 landscape so all students, no matter where they live and whatever qualification they choose, they know it will set them on the path to success.

Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister said:

We are overhauling the post-16 system to make sure it delivers for everyone. We are already taking action to make sure qualifications at level 3 are fit for purpose, but for too long courses at level 2 and below have been overlooked and undervalued – we want to fix that.

We want all students to be confident that whatever option they choose it will be high quality, valued by employers and will lead to an apprenticeship, further study or a great job. I encourage everyone from students to employers of all sizes to share their views so we can transform further education in this country.

In October the government set out detailed measures aimed at making sure that whatever course a student takes at level 3 and below they can be confident it will be fit for purpose and lead to good outcomes. This includes removing funding from qualifications that overlap with T Levels and A levels, and only funding qualifications that are high quality and lead to good outcomes for students.

Work is already underway to overhaul technical and vocational education in this country, including the roll out of new T Levels, working with employers to create more high quality apprenticeship opportunities, establishing a system of higher technical education and a network of Institutes of Technology, backed by up to £290 million.

The government will shortly publish its ambitious FE White Paper which will set out plans to build on and strengthen the excellent work that is already happening across the country to unlock potential and level up skills and boosts opportunities for more people.

New Free Online Learning Platform to Boost Workplace Skills
April 29, 2020
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Online platform ‘The Skills Toolkit’ will help people to build their skills during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

A new online learning platform to help boost the nation’s skills while people are staying at home, has been launched today (28 April) by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The Skills Toolkit

Free courses are available through a new online platform hosted on the gov.uk website, called The Skills Toolkit. The new platform gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.

These are the skills which are highly valued by employers and sought after in a wide range of jobs. With more people expected to be working and studying remotely in the coming months, the platform offers a great opportunity to learn new skills to help to get ahead online and gain the knowledge we’ll all need for the future. The platform also offers employees who have been furloughed an opportunity to keep up their skills development while they are at home.

Courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths and tools for using email and social media more effectively at work to more advanced training. Individuals will be able to access courses helping them to create great online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage and to learn how to code for data analysis from the Open University. All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

I know how difficult the recent months have been and the huge changes the coronavirus has brought on the daily lives of us all.

The high-quality and free to access courses on offer on our new online learning platform, The Skills Toolkit, will help those whose jobs have been affected by the outbreak, and people looking to boost their skills while they are staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

I want businesses to encourage their furloughed employees to use The Skills Toolkit to improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak.

The Skills Toolkit is designed to help people gain new skills while they are staying at home and boost their confidence. The courses have been selected on the advice of experts and leading employers to make sure they meet the needs of business, not just for today but in the future. This is just a first step towards assisting with the longer-term recovery to boost employability across the country, helping people to build up the skills employers need during time spent at home.

Employers are also encouraged to use The Skills Toolkit to help to support and develop furloughed employees who are interested in learning from home.

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director said:

Online learning is a great way for people to upgrade their skills at any time, but never more so than during a lockdown.

The toolkit’s heavy emphasis on the skills that businesses need are welcome.

Maths and digital skills are highly prized by employers, so for those who take the chance to upskill they can help improve their job prospects and career progression. I’d encourage all businesses to make their staff aware of this learning opportunity.

Minister Tells MPs Over 1,000 Apprenticeship Providers Will Not Be Given Any Supplier Relief
April 22, 2020
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Article from FEWeek.

More than 1,000 apprenticeship providers that only train levy-paying employers will not be eligible for supplier relief support from the Department for Education, minister Gillian Keegan has said.

In a letter to MPs dated 17 April, she confirmed the DfE will be introducing targeted financial relief measures “for those providers that need it”, but only where they “hold direct contracts with the Education and Skills Funding Agency”.

This includes adult education and non-levy apprenticeships, but not levy contracts held between providers and employers.

Minister tells MPs over 1,000 apprenticeship providers will not be given any supplier relief

“This does not apply in relation to apprenticeships funded from employer digital accounts where the contractual relationship is between the employer and the provider,” Keegan wrote.

FE Week analysis shows there are 1,624 main and employer providers on the register of apprenticeship training providers currently, of which 593 have non-levy allocations this year amounting to £690 million.

That means there are 1,031 providers that only have access to levy funding, and are therefore not eligible for the supplier relief.

Keegan told MPs that the extra targeted support, being offered due to the coronavirus crisis, is to “enable high-quality providers to remain active where that is still possible and safe”.

She will set out further detail on these measures and the criteria for accessing the financial relief this week.

“In doing so we will ensure that this support is targeted at those providers who need it, with proven track records for delivering quality training, and that it takes account of any wider support providers have accessed from HM Treasury or elsewhere,” Keegan said.

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Mark Dawe said that in the absence of published criteria so far, “we are concerned that the proposed ‘targeted support’ will involve some form of arbitrary selection of providers that may not be fair or justifiable”.

“The letter refers to enabling ‘high quality providers’ remaining active as a result of the promised support but how will the DfE define ‘high quality’?” he added.

“Full transparency is required.”

Quality in Careers Standard Events
January 13, 2020
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The Department for Education (DfE) is funding 3 free to attend events for schools and colleges to learn more about externally validating their careers programme through the national Quality in Careers Standard.

These events involve testimonies from schools and colleges already holding the Standard and are hosted by the Quality in Careers National Director. They are intended for staff in schools and colleges that have not yet engaged with the Standard.

The event details, including the speakers from schools and colleges, have now been confirmed:

  • Wednesday 4 March 2020, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Thursday 12 March 2020, Birmingham
  • Tuesday 17 March 2020, Bristol

For more information and to book your free ticket, please visit the Quality in Careers website.

New Essential Digital Skills: Booking Now Open for Free CPD Events

Booking has opened for the Education and Training Foundation’s (ETF) free face-to-face training and online workshops to support staff involved in delivering courses for the upcoming Essential Digital Skills entitlement.

The Education And Training Foundation

As from September 2020, adults aged 19 and over with no or low digital skills will be entitled to free training to develop their digital skills, in line with existing maths and English entitlements. Demand for courses is anticipated to be high and there is interest in delivery from all parts of the Further Education (FE) and Training sector.

According to the Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2019, more than half of working-age adults in the UK – 17.3 million people in total – do not have the essential digital skills they need for work.

In addition, the survey found that 11.9 million people lack the digital skills they need for everyday life in the connected world in which we now live.

In response, the Department for Education (DfE) introduced new national standards in April 2019, replacing the basic ICT standards published in 2006. The new standards cover five areas reflecting the way in which we now live online:

  • Using devices and handling information – using devices, finding and evaluating information, managing and storing information, identifying and solving technical problems
  • Creating and editing – creating and editing documents and digital media, processing numerical data
  • Communicating – communicating, sharing and managing traceable online activities
  • Transacting – using online services, buying securely online
  • Being safe and responsible online – protecting privacy and data, being responsible online, digital wellbeing.

The Essential Digital Skills training events and webinars are part of a broader CPD package commissioned by DfE from the ETF to support the FE sector in delivering the new entitlement, which also includes:

  • An interactive self-assessment tool
  • A series of 20 short online learning modules
  • Development of a community of practice to offer peer-to-peer support
  • A multimedia toolkit to provide guidance on the CPD package.

The self-assessment toolkit, the online learning modules and the community of practice will be hosted on the ETF’s Enhance Digital Teaching Platform, which has already proved a popular resource for teachers and trainers seeking to develop their digital skills. The CPD package will be free to all staff.

The face-to-face training workshops will take place in Bristol, Leeds and London, starting on 29 January. Webinars are also being provided for those who cannot attend face-to-face training. It is anticipated that the programme will be particularly helpful for those teachers and trainers who are not ICT specialists but rather will deliver digital skills training as part of another learning programme such as ESOL or Preparation for Life and Work. The aim of the training is to build confidence and share practice related to different teaching contexts.

£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.