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Sajid Javid Pledges Extra Funding for T-Levels
September 3, 2019
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Sajid Javid is to announce £400 million of extra funding for further education in England to support the introduction of new T-Level qualifications.

The chancellor wrote in The Guardian that the additional money, which is part of his spending review, will help fund the new technical and vocational qualifications as well as “more expensive” courses in science, engineering and mathematics.

‘I want this investment to start to end the snobbishness in some quarters about the quality and importance of a vocational education,’ he wrote. ‘It was a FE college that equipped me with the qualifications needed to pursue my ambitions.’

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said the funding will help young people “get the skills to get the right jobs”.

T-Levels were first announced in the 2017 Spring Budget as a new two-year qualification that will provide an alternative to A-Levels. They will combine a mix of classroom learning and on-the-job experience, with the first courses starting in September 2020.

News of further investment follows a pledge from then-chancellor Philip Hammond in his 2018 Spring Statement to channel £500 million into the new qualifications and £50 million into supporting employers to roll out T-Level placements.

Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Paul Johnson welcomed Javid’s funding announcement. “We hear a lot about schools. We hear a lot about universities. But it’s actually the further education sector that has had the biggest cuts since 2010,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Javid’s pledge comes as business groups have written to him urging government to use the spending review on Wednesday (4 September), brought forward to earlier in the month than planned, to broaden the apprenticeship levy.

In the joint letter the coalition of bodies said that a reformed levy would allow employers to spend funds more flexibly, helping millions more workers to benefit from training and career progression opportunities, and providing a much-needed boost to the UK economy.

The bodies, which represent hundreds of employers and include the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and CIPD, have written to the chancellor in response to commitments he made during his campaign for leadership of the Conservative Party.

Javid wrote in the Financial Times on 7 June that he would open up training opportunities to more workers. “I will broaden the apprenticeship levy into a wider skills levy, giving employers the flexibility they need to train their workforce while ensuring they continue to back apprenticeships,” he said.

The letter said ‘this would be the right step’: ‘A levy that allows businesses greater flexibility to fund accredited quality training that is effective for workers and employers – rather than meeting a government target – would be ideal. It would help to fill skills shortages and enable higher pay for workers,’ it stated.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said that the current levy system is not flexible enough and locks too many workers out of training.

“The apprenticeship levy was designed with the best intentions, but the current approach has not worked. The number of young workers doing apprenticeships has slowed and non-apprenticeship training has taken a huge hit. It’s time to think again. Moving away from a complex system that locks many workers out to a flexible skills levy that lets firms buy the most appropriate high-quality training for any worker is the right choice,” he said.

Carberry added that increased funding is vital to increasing productivity in the UK:

“Our Report on Jobs survey tells us that there are skills shortages all across the economy – from logistics to hospitality to health and social care, and the recruitment industry is doing its part to help. However, they employ almost one million temporary agency workers who are currently shut out of levy-funded training. A flexible skills levy would allow recruiters to provide quality training for temps, which would help them progress at work, earn more and fill some of these vital roles.

“At this critical time for the UK skills matter more than ever. It is time for this policy to be redesigned in order to boost productivity and help workers to learn and progress.”

CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said that the apprenticeship levy is too restrictive and prevents employers from creating more opportunities for workers.

“The apprenticeship levy is too inflexible and fails to encourage or create the best opportunities for employers to invest in the skills they need to boost the UK’s productivity and competitiveness. Our research shows employers want a more flexible training levy that supports investment in apprenticeships, as well as other equally-important forms of workplace training and development,” he said.

Javid has promised increased spending for schools, the NHS and the police in his spending review, but said public spending would still be restricted: “At a time when the global economy is slowing it’s important that we don’t let our public finances get out of control. Any departments expecting a blank cheque will be sorely disappointed.”

At a pre-spending review speech last Wednesday (28 August) shadow chancellor John McDonnell criticised the spending plans as trying to appeal to voters. “People see through this exercise as crude electioneering […] You take the top three or four issues that are prioritised in the opinion polls and throw as much and as little money and promises at them that will shift enough votes,” he said.

“That’s why we have had a number of grandiose announcements from Boris Johnson throughout the past month on the NHS, education and policing. If nothing else this has proved what we have said all along: austerity was always a political choice not an economic necessity.”

Responses: Chancellor Announces £400m Investment for 16-19 Year Olds’ Education
September 2, 2019
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Providers of 16-19 education such as further education and sixth form colleges will receive £400 million additional funding to train and teach our young people the skills they need for well-paid jobs in the modern economy, the Chancellor has announced.

The boost is the single biggest annual increase for the sector since 2010.

On a visit to the FE college in Bristol where he studied economics, maths and computer science, Chancellor Sajid Javid said:

Further education, like all our public services, is a lifeline of opportunity for our young people.

We’ll make a strong statement in backing it at this week’s Spending Round and I’ll continue to look at what more we can do to help, just as my FE college opened my horizons and set me on my way.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

As former FE students, the Chancellor and I both know first-hand how important the further education sector is so I’m really pleased that today that government is giving our sixth forms and colleges a major funding boost – the single biggest annual uplift since 2010.

This investment will make sure we can continue to develop world-class technical and vocational education to rival countries on the continent so we have a highly skilled and productive workforce for the future.

This includes protecting and increasing the base rate with funding worth £190 million to boost access to high quality courses for more than a million 16-19 year olds.

Colleges and school sixth forms will also get £120 million to help deliver expensive but crucial subjects such as engineering which lead to higher wages and, ultimately, a more productive economy.

There will be £35 million more for targeted interventions to support students on level 3 courses (A level equivalent) who failed GCSE Maths and English, so they can re-sit their exams in these critical subjects.

Colleges and further education providers will receive an extra £25 million to deliver T-levels. The new qualifications start rolling out in September 2020 and will transform vocational education with two-year courses in subjects as varied as accounting, digital production and onsite construction.

The advanced maths premium, which adds £600 to college budgets for every additional student who takes on A- and AS- level maths, is also funded with £10 million additional funding.

A new £20 million investment will also help the sector to continue to recruit and retain brilliant teachers and leaders, and provide more support to ensure high-quality teaching of T Levels.

The announcement forms part of the Spending Round so covers the financial year 2020-21.

The money announced today will be allocated across the 257 colleges in England, as well as other FE providers, including school sixth forms.

The Barnett formula for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be applied in the usual way with block grant amounts confirmed at the Spending Round.

Sector response to chancellor’s funding for 16-19 year olds’ education pledge

Sir Ian Diamond, Chair of the Independent Commission on the College of the Future said:

“Today’s announcement on increased funding in further education for 16 to 19 year olds in England is welcome news. It reflects recognition in Westminster and Whitehall that colleges are vital public assets which must be funded properly if they are to continue delivering for people and communities.  

“But the political attention cannot end here. We face key challenges, with changes in demography, the world of work, technology, climate and the UK’s place in the world, to name a few. It’s clear that colleges can and must play a significant role in meeting these challenges. This requires further serious policy attention and long-term thinking.

“That’s why we have brought together experts and leaders from across all four corners of the UK to ask the fundamental questions about the role and place of colleges in the future. We are working with colleagues across the education sector, business and beyond to put forward clear recommendations in a final report to be published next Spring. The Commission looks forward to building on today’s promising announcement to ensure colleges across the UK can play the critical role that they must in our communities and for our economy.”

Lawrence Barton, Managing Director, GB Training, said:

“There’s a certain irony that the day after the Government announces the appointment of a new finance Tsar to review the way the Department for Education monitors college financial management it announces plans for a multi-million-pound funding boost for further education colleges.

“Politicians need to learn that the only way they can truly get to grips with the financial mismanagement endemic within the college sector is by encouraging colleges to be more financially competitive and less dependent on state handouts.

“FE funding in England and Wales is so skewed in colleges favour — to the detriment of independent providers — that they’ve been overcome by complacency. Only by encouraging effective competition and weaning colleges off guaranteed funding grants will the Government get a handle on the financial mismanagement plaguing our country’s colleges and driving up teaching standards.”

Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges David Hughes said:

“Colleges have been overlooked and underfunded for far too long. Today’s announcement of an additional £400 million marks the first meaningful investment in further education for 16 to 19 year olds for more than ten years. It’s not enough to reverse the decade of cuts, nor to properly stabilise the sector for the future, but it is a good start. 

“I am delighted that the government has listened to college leaders, MPs, businesses, students and stakeholders, all of whom have made it clear that they want more investment in colleges. The announcement today will start to invest more in our young people with a long overdue increase in the base funding rate for 16- and 17-year olds. This will help support the world-class education and training which colleges provide to help our young people to succeed. 

“We believe that an announcement about funding to cover higher Teacher’s Pension Scheme costs will come separately and look forward to seeing the detail of that. Recent changes to pensions means colleges are locked into schemes which take a rising share of their budgets with no additional support in funding currently.

“Both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister have spoken regularly about the importance of our colleges, and the need to properly invest in them and today they have started to honour that commitment. However adult education was notably absent, with the number of adults in further education almost halving in the last decade, funding is urgently needed to boost opportunities to retrain and tackle skills shortages. 

“I am optimistic that more investment will follow next year when the spending review will be able to set out a longer term settlement to support thriving and vibrant colleges for the long term. We will continue to work with government, and campaign with partners to make sure that colleges continue to be a serious political, economic and social priority. That means long-term, sustainable funding, and a robust lifelong learning system. 

“Schools received a three-year commitment that allows them the chance to plan and deliver – we’ll be pushing government to do the same for colleges in next year’s spending review.”

Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association said:

“This £400 million investment is good news – sixth form education that has been starved of resources over the past decade and today’s announcement provides a much needed boost to the 1.1 million 16 to 18 year olds in colleges and schools across England.

“Around half of this investment will be used to Raise the Rate – the government has obviously listened to the coalition of organisations and MPsand MPs behind the campaign to increase the base rate for sixth formers – and we regard this as a step in the right direction. We need to see more detail on all of today’s announcements, but it is clear that this is the first meaningful investment in mainstream sixth form education for a decade”.

Jo Grady, General Secretary, UCU said:

“Today’s funding announcement comes after months of tireless campaigning by trade unions and the further education sector. It is crucially important that colleges use this funding wisely; staff have borne the brunt of cuts in recent years and closing the £7,000 pay gap between school and college teachers must be the top priority for spending. 

“Any funding is to be welcomed, but we need to be clear that it falls well short of the £3bn needed to restore college budgets to their 2010 levels. It is particularly disappointing that there is no additional funding for adult education, which has seen its budget slashed by over 45% in real terms this decade. The government must dig deeper if it wants to ensure our colleges can deliver transformative education for all those who would benefit.”

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to the Government’s announcement on further education spending, said:

“Once again, this announcement falls woefully short of the Prime Minister’s promise to reverse the Tory cuts to education. This is just a tiny fraction of the amount that further education and sixth forms have lost under the last two Conservative governments. Nor has there been an extra penny for adult education, which has suffered even worse cuts.

“A Labour government will not only end the Tory cuts but provide free lifelong learning in further education colleges as part of our investment in a National Education Service.”

According to the IFS report ‘2018 Annual Report on Education Spending in England’, funding per student aged 16–18 has seen the biggest squeeze of all stages of education for young people in recent yearsSchool sixth forms have faced budget cuts of 21% per student since their peak in 2010–11, while further education and sixth-form college funding per student has fallen by about 8% over the same period.

Labour calculation, based on an analysis by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, has found that spending on further education and skills has fallen by £3.3 billion in real terms between 2010-11 and 2017-18. The cuts have been most severe in adult education, which has seen a real terms cut of nearly £1.7 billion, around 50% of its budget, and further education, which has faced a £1 billion cut that amounts to around 25% of its total budget. 

According to the EPI report “16-19 education funding trends and implications“, the financial health of 16-19 providers has significantly deteriorated since 2010/11: the proportion of those with in-year deficits has increased across all institutions, with a particularly large rise seen in sixth form colleges: a five-fold increase of 7 to 36 per cent from 2010/2011 to 2016/17. An increasing number of local authority schools with sixth forms are in financial difficulty – the proportion with cumulative deficits has risen significantly from 12 per cent of schools in 2010/11 to 22 per cent in 2017/18. In stark contrast, schools without sixth forms have only seen rises of 6 per cent to 9 per cent. Teacher wages in FE colleges are now around 17 per cent lower than for teachers in secondary schools.

The Raise the Rate campaign has found that over a third of schools and colleges (38%) have dropped STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) courses and that more than three quarters of schools and colleges (78%) have reduced or removed student support services or extra-curricular activities.

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.

The 3 Colleges to Open Centres for Excellence in SEND
June 21, 2019
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City College Norwich, Derby College and Weston College will each share a slice of £1.2 million to provide support for leaders, managers and practitioners who wish to put learners with SEND at the heart of their organisation.

Revealed: The 3 colleges that will share £1.2m to open centres for excellence in SEND
Three colleges have been chosen to open centres for excellence in special educational needs and disabilities.

Selected by the Education and Training Foundation, each will host a SEND strategic leadership hub, which will provide leadership support to around 15 leaders from different providers across the country’s FE sector.

The centres will also develop “effective practice” for use in college strategies, by creating pathways to employment, curriculum co-creation and promoting staff and learner wellbeing.

City College Norwich will focus on “community”, ensuring that learners with SEND are “participating in their local communities, including creating pathways to employment”.

Meanwhile, Derby College will focus on making sure the curriculum “always has a clear purpose so that learners with SEND have potential to achieve their aspirations”.

And Weston College will focus on people, ensuring organisations create “truly inclusive cultures, motivating staff to engage in continued professional development with an emphasis on supporting learners with mental, social and emotional needs”.

The ETF expects the initiative to support 120 managers.

Nadhim Zahawi, children and families minister, said the investment will “help young people with special educational needs strive toward their ambitions, by making sure education is designed with the needs of students in mind”.

And David Russell, chief executive of the ETF, said: “Further education has an essential role to play in ensuring every learner in our country has the maximum opportunity to make the most of their talents, skills and ambitions. It is vital therefore that we place more focus, thought and activity on how we can better support our learners with SEND which is why this new programme is needed.

“We are pleased to be working on this programme with the three chosen Centres, on behalf of DfE and we look forward to supporting leaders, teachers and trainers across the whole sector on making this a success.”

Corrienne Peasgood, principal at City College Norwich, said her college was “excited by this opportunity to act as a hub for good practice”.

“There is a wealth of innovative partnerships and approaches in FE that enrich learning, enhance progression, and enable students with SEND to make a visible and valued contribution in their communities,” she added.

Mandie Stravino, chief executive at Derby College Group, said: “We are incredibly proud to be selected as a Centre for Excellence in SEND by the ETF – particularly during these challenging times when peer support and sharing good practice is even more important.”

And Weston College’s principal Paul Philips added that his college was “thrilled and excited to be delivering within the new centre”.

Education Secretary Confirms T Level Roll-Out from September 2020
June 19, 2019
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The second wave of FE providers announced to teach T Levels from 2021 – bringing the total to over 100.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds confirmed on 18th June that new T Level qualifications will become a reality from September 2020, as a second wave of further education providers are announced to deliver courses from 2021.

The move signals a major step forward in Mr Hinds’ 10-year ambition to overhaul technical education, and is further demonstration of the Government’s commitment to give more young people access to high-quality training opportunities so they can secure rewarding careers. Read more

Workshop for Potential VocTech Impact Applicants: Lincoln
June 9, 2019
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The UFI Charitable Trust are looking to offer grants for innovative uses of digital technology that enable large numbers of adults to access and develop the skills they need for work.

They are running pre-application face to face workshops to hear more about funding and discuss applications with Ufi staff. You must log in to your Ufi account in order to register for a workshop.
Four-Letter Verdict on Colossal Europeasn Social Fund Blunder

In what one ESFA official is alleged to have called a “f*ck up of epic proportions”, all 80 training providers in receipt of around £300 million of European Social Funding are being investigated after funding claim “discrepancies” were discoveredEuropean Social Fund Logo.

As a result, contract compliance for the 2014 to 2020 ESF programme has been thrown into doubt.

In early April the ESFA wrote to providers with concerns that evidence was missing from learner files. FE Week has seen a copy of the ESF contract which states that where a learner is enrolled on to a course involving a regulated qualification, then the “evidence requirement” for a start payment is registration to an awarding body. Read more

£15 Million Investment to Help Keep Families Safely Together
May 24, 2019
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Up to 40 new areas will benefit from £15 million to expand promising innovative approaches to keeping families safely togetherFamilies together

Children at risk of being taken into care are set to benefit from programmes that tackle the root cause of family problems, by strengthening the expert support available from social workers, addiction specialists and psychiatrists.

The new programme, Supporting Families; Investing in Practice, will help families work on issues together, including those impacted by domestic violence, substance misuse or addiction, in order to help create stability in the home for young people and prevent them being taken into care, where that is in their best interests. This is part of wider Government work to improve outcomes for children in need of support of a social worker, by creating home and school environments in which they can thrive.

Applications to the programmes can be made here.

Modelled on existing Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) and a programme known as Family Group Conferencing, the innovative new projects will be rolled out in up to 40 new council areas. The Government has today announced up to £15 million over the next year, following the emerging success of these existing programmes.

Read more

Education Secretary Announces £2.5m Boost to Careers Hubs in 20 Areas

The Secretary of State for Education has announced the expansion of a successful model helping to transformDamian Hinds meets pupils benefiting from a Careers Hub in Leicestershirecareers education around the country.

This follows news last year that careers support is improving across England and is now strongest in disadvantaged areas.

Last year, The Careers & Enterprise Company launched the first 20 Careers Hubs accross England. Each Hub brings together a group of up to 40 schools and colleges to improve careers support for young people in their area.

Schools and colleges in this first wave of Careers Hubs are already outperforming the national average across all aspects of careers education. Read more

DfE Launches Consultation on Improving SEND Funding Arrangements for Colleges

The Department for Education has today launched a consultation on how to improve funding arrangements for learners with high needsDfE launches consultation on improving SEND funding arrangements for colleges

The department is seeking views on what “may be adversely influencing local authorities, mainstream schools, colleges and other education providers” in their support for young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND).

“We welcome views on changes to the funding system that could help in getting the best value from the resources available,” the DfE said.

The evidence document said the government “understands the cost pressures facing both local authorities and post-16 providers as they seek to meet the needs and ambitions of young people, and the need for appropriate levels of funding”.

However, it hopes to gather views on whether there are other aspects of the financial arrangements that are acting as a barrier to young people accessing the support they need, “regardless of the amount of funding available”. Read more