|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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Clare Howard, Chief Executive, Natspec
The reforms to the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) system contained in the 2014 Children and Families Act were a once in a generation systemic change for young people and their families.
For the first time, rights and duties were extended from the earliest years to young adulthood, in a new 0-25 system, giving Further Education colleges and providers new statutory obligations.
Post-16 Special Education Needs
The SEND reforms, combined with the raising of the participation age to the 18th birthday, mean that SEND provision does not end at 16. There are increasingly heavy demands on FE – the number of young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) aged 16 to 25 increased from 84,000 to 96,000 between 2018 and 2019.
Whether it is post-16 or post-18/19, the move into further education and training is arguably the least well-developed area of the SEND reforms.
16-18 Year Olds
At some stage between the ages of 16 to 19, these young people and their families will be considering their post-school options. That might be a college place possibly with an element of residential experience, a supported internship, an apprenticeship, or voluntary or paid work.
Leaving school and moving on to something new is both exciting and stressful for any young person, but it can be especially difficult for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, many of whom find change very unsettling. This is further hindered by a funding system that is hard to navigate and lack of information about the full range of options available.
Moving to college (sometimes after 15+ years at the same special school) gives young people a real opportunity for a fresh start; it means making new friends, having new experiences, learning new skills, and experiencing and overcoming new challenges. For many young people it is the ideal stepping- stone from school into adult life.
Expectations for what can be achieved in this last – and shortest – phase of education are rightly set high. The impact of high-quality further education for learners with SEND can be enormous – for the young people themselves, for their families, and for wider society.
But currently there are a number of issues getting in the way. What are they – and how might we resolve them?
Education, Health and Care Plans
EHCPs should be well- constructed, based on realistic and personal aspirations, and contain aspirational and specific outcomes. Evidence collected by numerous reviews, the most recent being the Education Select Committee SEND Inquiry, demonstrates that the vast majority are not. Natspec has recommended that DfE introduce a new national EHCP template and better guidance for writing Plans. Timeliness of assessment and finalisation for plans is also an issue; for new EHCPs, SEN stats published by DfE in 2019 show that only 60% were issued within the statutory 20 week deadline in 2018.
Local authorities are required to inform families with a full range of options and services on their Local Offer websites. With LAs unfamiliar with the FE landscape, and many being unwilling to fund places outside their own area, many colleges and training providers are not included within Local Offers.
An Ofsted thematic report in 2016 reviewed 20 Local Offer websites, and found 16 which “failed to provide sufficiently detailed information…”. This lack of information was a particular problem for those young people with more complex or profound learning difficulties or disabilities”. Natspec’s own research in 2019 found over half of Local Offers did not list specialist colleges as an option, and mainstream colleges were often hard to locate on websites.
Timeliness Decision Making
The proportion of post-school placements that are confirmed before the March 31 legal deadline each year is tiny.
Specialist colleges are reporting that less than 10% of places are confirmed by June, and many students are left in limbo (with all the increased anxiety that results) into August, September or even later. Natspec would like to see LAs working with all post-16 providers to look at supply and demand, develop strategic plans and work jointly across regional areas to account for FE travel patterns and specialist centres.
All providers should offer a good range of learning opportunities for students with SEND to meet their needs and interests and build on their strengths. Colleges should have rigorous systems for assuring quality, especially if the learning programme is not accredited, and be providing support that prepares the young person to be increasingly independent, including through use of technology (Natspec’s TechAbility programme brings together the best examples of this).
And finally, all post-16 and post-19 study programmes should have high aspirations and be based on outcomes.
What kind of adult does the young person want to become? What personalised programme of learning is needed to help them get there? The late teenage and early adult years are critical in determining levels of independence and success in adulthood. And the right education at this stage can save the public purse millions later in life.
Clare Howard, Chief Executive, Natspec
“It doesn’t matter what you want to be, it’s who you want to be that’s important.” David Gallagher of NCFE shares his advice on the importance of being the best version of yourself, but always being yourself.
What is it the company does?
NCFE is a national awarding organisation with a strong heritage going back over 170 years. Passionate about designing, developing and certificating diverse, nationally recognised qualifications and awards, NCFE is at the forefront of technical education and has contributed to the success of millions of learners at all levels.
A registered educational charity, NCFE is proud to be recognised for exceptional customer service and sector-leading expertise. NCFE offers an extensive portfolio of NCFE and CACHE branded qualifications covering a wide range of products and services for leaners of all ages across many subject areas and specialisms.
NCFE is also a registered Apprenticeship End-Point Assessment (EPA) Organisation, specialising in health, care, childcare and education programmes. The NCFE family of businesses also includes Skills Forward, which offers online diagnostics to support the successful delivery of Functional Skills, and Peer Tutor, a new platform offering high quality, on-demand, tech-enabled peer-to-peer tutoring support at low cost.
NCFE is committed to changing the lives of learners and supporting people to progress and achieve. The organisation’s purpose is to ‘advance and promote learning’ – with a particular focus on social mobility; supporting those who need it most to improve their career and life chances through learning.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
I lead NCFE including NCFE Awarding, Apprenticeship Services, Skills Forward and Peer Tutor. My role involves me shaping the strategy and cultivating the culture of the organisation, developing the leadership and management team to be the very best they can be. I also play a leading role in the growth and continuous development of our business, balancing our social purpose and commercial objectives to ensure that we continue to make a significant impact on the lives of learners of all ages.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I joined NCFE in 2018 as managing director of NCFE Apprenticeship Services, leading a new team to deliver End-Point Assessment (EPA) solutions across a range of subject areas. I have since moved into my new role as chief executive at NCFE.
I have enjoyed a successful career in education, apprenticeships and skills for over 15 years. This has included working in the public sector for the Learning and Skills Council (now ESFA), several private sector training providers and also through establishing several successful new business startups within the sector.
In a previous role, I held a board position as group commercial director at Babington, a professional training organisation based in the Midlands. I also led the reshaping of the organisation and its proposition in response to the Apprenticeship Reform Agenda and emerging market opportunities. I successfully oversaw significant growth of the business, primarily though securing a variety of major corporate accounts. I also held board level responsibly for the creation of Babington’s innovative ‘NextGen’ blended delivery apprenticeship programmes which has received hugely positive feedback from customers and key stakeholders.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I think it’s so important to be the best version of yourself as much as you can at work and to lead by example. I believe in my actions being aligned to my words and being bold and courageous, whilst also being considered. I also think that great leaders focus on helping those around them to be the best they can be.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I’m naturally a ‘get things done’ person and prioritising tasks when there is so much to get stuck into is a big challenge. It’s exciting, though, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. The pace of our sector really keeps me on my toes!
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Spending time with my family and finding that balance between work and home is what alleviates stress for me. Taking time on an evening to cook and spend time with my wife and my two boys helps me keep a good perspective and value what is most important in life.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An archaeologist – basically because I wanted to be Indiana Jones! Then an architect and a golf course designer; I think I’ve always liked creating things.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Apathy is the enemy of energy and is something I really can’t stand. I strive to ensure that people are connected to what we’re trying to achieve and inspired to take action. We really believe in the power that learning has to change people’s lives and we’re a key part of powering education and training. So apathy is essentially our enemy because it means that power is sucked out of something that is so important.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I believe that learning will change radically over the next five to 10 years, so I would like to think that NCFE has played a major part in developing new ideas and approaches that will create more opportunities for learning, particularly for those who need it most. I also see us being able to leverage more investment in learning through clearly demonstrating the significant positive impact that we’ve had on the lives of millions of learners in terms of their life and career chances.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I would say to be yourself. Be the best version of yourself, but always be you. I occasionally see leaders ‘playing the role’ and it shows. Plus, it must be exhausting.
As a leader, you have such an important role in setting the tone, the mood and ultimately the culture within your organisation. So I think it’s hugely important to be optimistic, consistent, balanced and fair.
Finally, I believe that feedback can be the single most important thing that can improve your performance as a leader. So, ask for feedback and ask people to be honest. Take the feedback with openness and humility, even when it stings.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
I wish that someone had have told me that it doesn’t matter what you want to be, it’s who you want to be that’s important. We spend so much time asking children what they want to be when they grow up and that’s the wrong approach. Focusing on the kind of person they want to be should come first.
Yet two-thirds (66%) fear that there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill vacancies.
That’s according to the 2018 CBI Education and Skills Annual Report, in partnership with Pearson.
The report represents 28,000 businesses and reveals that 85% of firms are expecting to maintain or increase investment in training in their workforce. Currently, UK employers spend £44.2 billion on training expenditure each year.
When asked about the impact of the apprenticeship levy, the report highlighted a drop in the number of firms offering apprenticeship programmes (from 83% in 2017 to 70% in 2018). Worryingly, 59% of those firms that offer such programmes have experienced difficulty in recruiting apprentices or expect to do so in the next three years. And over a quarter (26%) have taken the decision to absorb the levy as an added cost of doing business. Read more
When it comes to overall productivity, the amount of meaningful output we achieve during that time, we are 26 percent less effective than the average worker in Germany.
Expert opinion is converging around the idea that technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI) may hold the keys to solving Britain’s productivity puzzle. The UK government has put investment in AI and data at the core of recently published industrial strategy whitepapers.
As much as this approach seems sensible however, there is a danger that we focus too much on the technology itself and too little on what we actually want to do with it.
The following report was published by Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE on her website http://dmhassociates.org
In late 2017, the Board of Careers Yorkshire and the Humber: National Careers Service commissioned dhm associates to undertake an economic review and analysis of the productivity and economic benefits of the service.
The period under review focuses on data available from early 2015 – mid year 2017 and the primary focus is on face-to-face careers guidance for adults. To access the full report: Productivity and Economic Benefits Report 140918
Three key questions
- What level of fiscal return does the National Careers Service: Careers Yorkshire and the Humber make to HM Treasury?
- Is the National Careers Service priority target group, set by the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), linked to a payment by results, sufficient to meet regional/local needs?
- What lies ahead in Yorkshire and the Humber when it comes to the National Careers Service face-to-face careers guidance work with adults in the coming year(s)?
In 2013 the Sutton Trust published Parent Power?, a landmark piece of work authored by Prof Becky Francis and Prof Merryn Hutchings demonstrating how social class influences parents’ ability to support their children in their schooling. Five years later Parent Power 2018 revisits the cultural and financial resources parents use to boost their children’s chances of educational success.
Based on a survey conducted by YouGov, the Sutton Trust’s Rebecca Montacute and Carl Cullinane find similar trends to those found in 2013. From choosing the best school to attend, to paying for out of school extracurricular activities, better-off parents continue to have the upper hand when it comes to navigating the education system and preventing their children from falling behind in school.
The report also reveals new challenges. The ‘hidden costs’ of education such as uniforms and travel expenses are an increasing concern for parents from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, while schools are demonstrating increasing reliance on extra financial contributions from parents following recent school budget cuts.
- When choosing what school to send their child to, parents with higher socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to attend open days, read Ofsted reports, speak to parents at the school, read league tables and consult local authority or other education websites.
- Parents in lower socioeconomic groups were more likely to indicate that the cost of travel, and potential extra financial costs such as uniforms, played a significant role in their decision making. Over half of working class parents (56%), compared to 34% of professional parents.
- Just one in five parents (20%) reported that they were familiar with Progress 8, the Department for Education’s new headline measure for school league tables.
- Parents in higher socioeconomic groups were much more likely to report a variety of strategies to gain access to their preferred school, such as moving to an area with good schools or to a specific catchment, along with employing private tutors for entrance tests. Read more
CBI’s annual pulse-check on what business thinks about the education and skills.
People and skills are at the heart of our economic prosperity. With a good education and the right skills, everyone has the best chance to get a job and get on in their career.
The Education and Skills survey is the CBI’s annual pulse-check on what business thinks about education and skills. It aims to find out more about the current and anticipated skills needs, what business really thinks the priorities should be in schools, apprenticeships, technical education reform, retraining – and much more.
The findings will shape the CBI’s future policy recommendations to ensure UK businesses have the skills required to flourish over the coming decades.
Better understanding of what business thinks on education is more vital than ever. The next ten years the way we live, and work will rapidly change due to technological developments, globalisation, the impact of Artificial Intelligence, automation and other factors. This will bring exciting opportunities, but also present challenges for the next generation that will need to be addressed. The survey gathers the evidence needed to develop the policies and reforms that need to take place now and in the coming years. Read more
Chair of the House of Commons Education Committee Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP has written to the Secretary of State for Education Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP to press the Government on what it is doing to improve the quality of education in the North.
The letter follows the Committee’s public hearing on Wednesday (2 May) with George Osborne, Lord O’Neill and Henri Murison from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) which focused on their recent report Educating the North. Robert Halfon has called on the Government to respond to concerns over the use of the pupil premium, the spending of the Northern Powerhouse Education Fund, and high-profile failures of some MATs in the North.
The letter (see below) also notes how northern pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve lower attainment levels than disadvantaged pupils elsewhere in the country.
Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said: “The NPP’s report on ‘Educating the North’ lays bare the stark educational attainment gap between the North and other parts of England. This is particularly true for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, who at the age of 16 achieve an average Attainment 8 score of 6.5 points below that of their peers in London.
The Education Committee shares concerns about skills, inequalities in educational attainment and social justice and welcomes the path for improvement proposed by the NPP. The Government must now urgently spell out what action it is taking to narrow the attainment gap between the North and the rest of the country.”
Dear Secretary of State,