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Reforms to Subcontracting for Learners Over 16 and the Merlin Standard!
April 6, 2020
2

If you have read the article by Patrick Tucker in FENews published on the 3rd April regarding the ESFA’s consultation on subcontracting, you will have also read his views on Proposal 9: Introducing a Standard for Management of Subcontracting.

The references he makes in this section to the Merlin Standard are both out of date and incorrect.

The Standard was desgned to be relevant to DWP Prime Contractors and their Supply Chain Partners / Subcontractors. However, a high proportion of DWP Primes use Supply Chain Partners / Subcontractors to deliver a range of contracts and services and these have successfully been included within the Prime Contractors Merlin assessment.

For example, ESFA funded Apprenticeships, National Careers Service and Adult Education Budget, ESFA / ESF Skills Support for the Unemployed, Skills Support for the Workforce, the NCS Trust funded National Citizen Service, Big Lottery projects, Ministry of Justice, NHS and Local Authority funded programmes have all been included within Merlin assessments.

The Standard is built upon the following eight fundamental and integrated Principles:

If you want to find out more about the Merlin Standard and the benefits both Prime Contractors and their Supply Chain Partners have gained from the Prime being assessed against the Standard visit: https://merlinstandard.co.uk/benefits/

ESFA Update: 1 April 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Documents

ESFA Update further education: 1 April 2020

ESFA Update academies: 1 April 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 1 April 2020

Details
Information for further education
Informationlatest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Informationfurther responses to the coronavirus pandemic
Informationincreased fraud risk during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Reminderindividualised learner record (ILR) period 8
Informationadult allocations for the 2020 to 2021 funding year
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR) 2018 to 2019
Information for academies
Informationlatest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Informationincreased fraud risk during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Information for local authorities
Informationlatest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Informationincreased fraud risk during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Informationupdated 2020 to 2021 dedicated schools grant (DSG) allocations
Informationadult allocations for the 2020 to 2021 funding year
Informationlocal authority allocations summaries for 2020 to 2021 available on Document Exchange
Informationlocal authority student number summaries for 2020 to 2021 available on Document Exchange
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR) 2018 to 2019

Published 1 April 2020

ESFA Update: 25 March 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Documents

ESFA Update further education: 25 March 2020

ESFA Update academies: 25 March 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 25 March 2020

Details
Information for further education
Informationlatest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Informationrevenue funding allocation statements for 2020 to 2021
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR)
Information for academies
Informationlatest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Informationrevenue funding allocation statements for 2020 to 2021
Informationupdated pupil premium allocations for 2019 to 2020
Information for local authorities
Informationlatest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Informationrevenue funding allocation statements for 2020 to 2021
Informationupdated pupil premium allocations for 2019 to 2020
Informationupdated 2019 to 2020 dedicated schools grant (DSG) allocations
Informationconsistent financial reporting framework 2020 to 2021
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR)

Published 25 March 2020

ESFA Update: 11 March 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Documents

ESFA Update further education: 11 March 2020

ESFA Update academies: 11 March 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 11 March 2020

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Details
Information for further education
Informationhelpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education
Actiongender pay gap reporting 2020
Reminderrecording of residential provision for FE colleges and special post-16 providers
Reminderdeadlines for apprenticeships training provider contract extensions and new provider legal agreements
Informationfurther education data security
Information16 to 19 rates and formula guidance
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR) 2018 to 2019
Informationupdate on provider roadshows
Informationround 3 of Taking Teaching Further
Information for academies
Informationhelpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education
Actiongender pay gap reporting 2020
Information16 to 19 rates and formula guidance
Information for local authorities
Informationhelpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education
Actiongender pay gap reporting 2020
Informationrecoupment guidance for 2020 to 2021
Information16 to 19 rates and formula guidance
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR) 2018 to 2019

Published 11 March 2020

ESFA: Business Update 53
ESFA Update: 4 March 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Documents

ESFA Update further education: 4 March 2020

ESFA Update academies: 4 March 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 4 March 2020

Details
Items for further education
Informationhelpline launched to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education
Action2019 to 2020 Advanced Learner Loans performance management point 3
Informationadult education budget (AEB) devolution update – Sheffield City Region
Informationaccess to the ESFA developer hub
Informationapprenticeships training provider contract extensions
Informationpackage of support for colleges to strengthen leadership and governance across the further education sector
Informationupdate on provider roadshows
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR) for 2018 to 2019
Informationearnings adjustment statement (EAS)
Informationsupport for your advanced mathematics provision
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Items for academies
Informationhelpline launched to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education
Informationteachers’ pay grant and teachers’ pension employer contribution grant updates
Informationthemes arising from ESFA’s assurance work
Informationnational non-domestic rates (NNDR) claims online form
Your feedbackwould you like to take part in research around education funding transparency?
Informationregistration for the WorldSkills UK skills competitions
InformationThe Trust Network’s national school estates conference
Informationnew analysis suggests potential interventions to improve educational attainment of children and young people who have had a social worker
Informationsupport for your advanced mathematics provision
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Items for local authorities
Informationhelpline launched to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education
Action2019 to 2020 Advanced Learner Loans performance management point 3
Informationteachers’ pay grant and teachers’ pension employer contribution grant updates
Informationlocal authorities planning calendar
Informationadult education budget (AEB) devolution update – Sheffield City Region
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR) for 2018 to 2019
Informationearnings adjustment statement (EAS)
Informationregistration for the WorldSkills UK skills competitions
Informationnew analysis suggests potential interventions to improve educational attainment of children and young people who have had a social worker
Informationsupport for your advanced mathematics provision
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns

Published 4 March 2020

ESFA Business Update – Issue 52 (February 2020)
ESFA Update: 26 February 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Documents

ESFA Update further education: 26 February 2020

ESFA Update academies: 26 February 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 26 February 2020

Details
Items for further education
Reminderthe deadline to submit the IFMC is Friday 28 February 2020
Information16 to 19 revenue funding allocation statements for 2020 to 2021
Informationadult funding allocations for the 2020 to 2021 funding year
Information2018 to 2019 list of declared subcontractors
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR) for 2018 to 2019
InformationEU exit update for apprenticeships
Informationupdate to ESFA intervention policy for apprenticeship training providers with low numbers of learners where Ofsted is unable to undertake a full inspection
Informationall apprenticeship starts to be through the apprenticeship service from 1 November 2020
Informationnew provider legal agreements – deadline Monday 6 April 2020
Informationupdate on provider roadshows
Informationimprovements to ‘Manage your apprentices’ in the apprenticeship service
Informationthe FE Choices learner satisfaction survey will launch this March
Informationconsultation on proposed changes to the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Items for academies
ActionTeachers’ Pensions – update your contact details online
Reminderacademy trusts to supply or update their contact details information
Informationfunding allocation statements for 2020 to 2021
Informationpupil premium conditions of grant for 2020 to 2021
Informationyear 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium: 2019 to 2020
Informationfree school meals supplementary grant 2019 to 2020
Informationconsultation on proposed changes to the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance
Your feedbacktell us about your challenges when buying everyday goods
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Your feedbackcan you help us to understand whether/how a public financial health measure of schools and academies could be useful to you?
Items for local authorities
Informationpupil premium conditions of grant for 2020 to 2021
Informationyear 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium: 2019 to 2020
Informationfree school meals supplementary grant 2019 to 2020
Informationsection 251 budget guidance for 2020 to 2021
Informationconsultation on proposed changes to the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance
Informationbenefit from the reduced cost of risk cover
Your feedbacktell us about your challenges when buying everyday goods
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Your feedbackcan you help us to understand whether/how a public financial health measure of schools and academies could be useful to you?

Published 26 February 2020

ESFA Update: 19 February 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Documents

ESFA Update further education: 19 February 2020

ESFA Update academies: 19 February 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 19 February 2020

Details
Items for further education providers
Reminderthe deadline to express an interest to deliver T Levels in 2022 to 2023 academic year is Friday 28 February 2020
Informationupdate on the review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England – the process for removal of funding for qualifications with low and no enrolments
Informationthe integrated financial model for colleges (IFMC)
Informationnew Apprenticeship Service webinar in February 2020
Informationupdate on our provider roadshows
Informationupdate on the matrix Standard
Your feedbackhave your say in the design of a new staff data collection
Items for academies
Informationview my financial insights tool for academy trusts
Reminderthe deadline to express an interest to deliver T Levels in 2022 to 2023 academic year is Friday 28 February 2020
Informationupdate on the review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England – the process for removal of funding for qualifications with low and no enrolments
Items for local authorities
Reminderthe deadline to express an interest to deliver T Levels in 2022 to 2023 academic year is Friday 28 February 2020
Informationupdate on the review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England – the process for removal of funding for qualifications with low and no enrolments

Published 19 February 2020

ViewPoint: It’s Time to Take on the Subcontracting Profiteers
February 19, 2020
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By SIMON ASHWORTH Chief Operating Officer, Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Subcontractors account for more than 10 per cent of ESFA funding. They need overseeing properly, says Simon Ashworth

It was good to see the ESFA’s Peter Mucklow in edition 306 of FE Week confirming government recognition that subcontracting plays an important role and that there will be not be a complete ban on it.

Some interesting numbers were published as part of the ESFA’s consultation: 674 prime providers subcontract provision to 2,288 subcontractors. The total value of subcontracted provision is £484.5 million – or 10.6 per cent of total ESFA funding. These are big numbers, so it’s no wonder the regulators are keen to ensure appropriate oversight, quality and robustness of provision.

Unfortunately, the ESFA has yet again missed a trick – by failing to implement a cap on fees and charges which could address ‘profiteering’ from subcontracting. They make it clear, though, that they “do not expect funding retained to exceed 20 per cent”, and have linked this to two points previously raised by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP). Firstly, if more than 20 per cent of the funding is retained, it raises questions about the capacity of the subcontractor to deliver. Secondly, can good quality can be achieved when funding is so reduced?

Apprenticeship subcontracting has already been reformed with the removal of whole programme subcontracting. And the opening up of the Apprenticeship Service to non-levy employers will allow hundreds of providers on the main Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) to access funding directly, without a non-levy contract.

This will impact on those subcontracting relationships – study programmes, traineeships, adult education – which have hitherto been unable to obtain funding. In the case of AEB, a move to full procurement which rewarded prime providers and subcontractors that actually deliver would also reduce the need for subcontracting.

The proposals around geographical restrictions are attracting the most questions from providers. The “no more than one hour away from the prime contractor by car” pledge begs a question: if a prime provider is undertaking the minimum checks as required by the funding rules, then distance should make no difference in terms of oversight of the relationship. What matters, surely, is that properly checked subcontractors might be based miles from their primes while learners might be on their doorstep.

The ESFA also acknowledged that when working with national employers, a distance arrangement for subcontracting “is beneficial”. The focus on geographical restrictions is more about ‘out of area’ funding, particularly the expectations and justification of grant funding being spent on subcontracting in other far-flung areas of the country. The test is whether provision is supporting the local community or being used to generate additional income.

To date, Ofsted has chosen not to inspect subcontractors directly, and they recently gave me an example of why: a subcontractor that worked with three prime providers, where two-thirds of the provision was good and a third poor. The underpinning rationale was that two of the prime providers had full and suitable oversight and supported the subcontractor appropriately, while the third prime provider took a management fee and had no oversight. This highlights the importance of considering the role that the prime provider has in the process (rather than looking at subcontractors in isolation). But political pressure will probably require Ofsted to inspect a selection of the larger subcontractors as part of their risk-based approach.

The ESFA certainly don’t like managing agent models, and within the sector there are still examples of providers that operate as managing agents in all but name – subcontracting out comparably large portions of their allocations. The ESFA is now proposing a phased transition from all providers to a subcontracting limit of just 10 per cent of their total ESFA post-16 income in 2023-24.

Again, this will be a real challenge for parts of the sector that have for too long relied on subcontracting. Ultimately if the funding isn’t being used, let’s get it reallocated to providers who can spend it directly.