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Introducing the ESFA

By Andrew Gladstone-Heighton, Policy Leader, Thursday 20 April 2017

In a move that has been anticipated in the education sector for some time, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) have been merged to form the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Following the Skills Portfolio being brought back into the Department for Education (DfE) after the cabinet reshuffle last year, the ‘Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) brings together the existing responsibilities of the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA), creating a single funding agency accountable for funding education and training for children, young people and adults’.

The waiting game

By Esme Winch, Managing Director, Thursday 20 April 2017

Once again, we’re experiencing a frustrating wait for the update to the Department for Education performance tables, with the possibility that this could be delayed even further thanks to this week’s surprise announcement of a snap general election. We appreciate that the initial performance tables were released very late, and that this has repercussions when setting out options for your pupils­ or planning the curriculum for next year.

What impact will snap general election have on education reforms?

By Esme Winch, Managing Director, Thursday 20 April 2017

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election on 8 June, with the purdah period beginning this Saturday. The news came as a surprise to many, but how will the election itself and pre-election campaigning impact on our sector and the planned reforms? The first thing to note is that with purdah beginning imminently, there won’t be any new policy announcements until after 8 June.

The Apprenticeship Levy is here – is your school affected?

By Andrew Gladstone-Heighton, Policy Leader, Wednesday 19 April 2017

As we move into the new era of the Apprenticeship Levy, what does this mean for the public sector and those schools affected? With budgets already stretched to breaking point, is there even capacity to make the most of this additional taxation? So, we’re now living in the brave new world of the Apprenticeship Levy. All employers whose wage bill is over £3 million will have to pay a 0.5% tax, which can then be drawn down to pay for an apprentice or apprentices. This isn’t just for private companies either – in order to drive adoption of apprenticeships (and support the government’s target of 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020), public sector organisations, including schools, will also have to pay this levy.

Standard pass – as clear as mud for stakeholders

By Andrew Gladstone-Heighton, Policy Leader, Wednesday 19 April 2017

With less than 4 months to go until the first awards are issued, we received clarification this month on what a ‘pass’ is in the new maths and English 9-1 graded GCSEs and also what’s meant by a ‘standard’ and ‘strong pass’. In a letter to Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee, Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening set out that she ‘wanted to provide certainty about how this new grading will work and, in particular, the consequences for individual pupils of achieving a grade 4 or grade 5’.

Functional Skills reform – what’s the latest?

By Alexandra Shaw, PR Officer, Wednesday 12 April 2017

Following a comprehensive review of English and maths Functional Skills, led by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) at the government’s request, new Functional Skills qualifications will be introduced in 2019 with a view to making them more robust and more credible. The ETF’s review, ‘Making maths and English work for all’, found that work could be done to improve the relevance and content of Functional Skills, as well as improve their recognition and credibility in the labour market. The government wants to ensure everyone has an appropriate opportunity to improve their maths and English skills and achieve a qualification that employers recognise.

End point assessment – how ready is the sector really?

By Simon Ashworth, Chief Policy Officer at AELP, Friday 07 April 2017

As I start my eleventh week at AELP (not that I am counting), you will be unsurprised that much of our focus of late has been around readiness, namely provider and employer readiness as part of the ramp up of activity to be ready for the start of the apprenticeship reforms on 1May. As we enter into April, the formal start of the reforms are less than a month away and despite lots of activity there are still numerous challenges for providers and employers to navigate through, the outcome of the procurement activity for non-levy delivery being a significant question and an area we get asked about with unsurprisingly regularity.

Qualifications and apprenticeships – it’s all about the currency

By Paul Turner, Futures Leader, Thursday 06 April 2017

The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) formally began its role on 3 April with the broad remit to monitor the design, delivery, end point assessment (EPA) and quality assurance of apprenticeships, including standards and assessment plans. Two documents were also released in parallel – the Strategic Guidance to the Institute for Apprenticeships and the Apprenticeships Accountability Statement. The former is to provide the high level guidance to the IfA around the fundamental reforms taking place. The latter sets out the responsibilities of each organisation with a role to play in the reformed apprenticeship system. This includes assessment bodies, providers and employers as well as other organisations such as Ofsted and Ofqual.

Positive news as government decides to retain Applied General qualifications

By Alexandra Shaw, PR Officer, Friday 31 March 2017

We were very pleased to hear that the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed the initial outcome of the Applied General Review is that this category of qualification will remain. It was announced that the DfE will work with Ofqual going forward, to ensure Applied General qualifications are robust in providing appropriate skills and knowledge. The DfE will be retaining Applied Generals in official performance tables.

Launching our new report with the Campaign for Learning

By Andrew Gladstone-Heighton, Policy Leader, Friday 17 March 2017

Together with the Campaign for Learning, we launched our new report: “Reforming Technical and Professional Education: Why should it work this time?” in Westminster yesterday, in a roundtable session that was attended by further education industry bodies, colleges and employers. In launching the paper, the author Mick Fletcher set out nine recommendations, to ‘promote technical education as a strong and prestigious alternative to the academic route, and to succeed where earlier attempts have failed’. The recommendations for the government are:


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