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Castles made of sand? Is the new Industrial Strategy up to scratch?

By Paul Turner, Futures Leader, Thursday 20 July 2017

At the beginning of 2017, the government released its Industrial Strategy for consultation. The responses are currently being considered and incorporated into a White Paper which is due in the autumn. Additionally, the Industrial Strategy Commission was set up in March 2017 to act as a critical friend as to the content, structure and direction of the strategy. The Commission has now published its interim report called ‘Laying the Foundations’ its final report is due in October.


Strength against all odds

By Esme Winch, Managing Director, Thursday 20 July 2017

The last year has been extraordinary. There's seldom been a time of such change in policy and people, creating a great deal of uncertainty. The snap election has meant the government’s decision-making capacity has been compromised and has meant a dialling back of some of the reforms to education. However, as is usually the case in these circumstances, during the political turbulence and fall out of the past year, the Further Education (FE) sector has been ‘business as usual’, creating opportunities for learners to increase their employment and learning potential. This in itself is no mean feat, especially as the sector has faced multiple uncertainties, such as procurement for Adult Education Budgets and non-levy contracting.



Keeping it brief

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

We’re starting to see the relevant ministers within the Department for Education settle into their respective briefs, with some of the fog of uncertainty around some reforms beginning to lift. The now confirmed Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, Anne Milton, stated at the recent AELP conference that she was here to ‘listen and learn’, and seemed to be in favour of a period of stability to allow the current reforms to be rolled out.



One fifth or 20%? Off-the-job training for apprentices

By Paul Turner, Futures Leader, Thursday 20 July 2017

The Department for Education recently published its long awaited guidance to Off-the-job (OTJ) for apprenticeships and applicable to frameworks and standards. The document is light, weighing in at a mere 14 pages, but covers what is probably one of the most anticipated, yet possibly controversial elements of apprenticeships – 20% of apprentices time must be allocated for OTJ training. Firstly, here’s the official definition:



Let’s not pretend GCSEs are perfect

By Michael Lemin, Policy and Research Manager, Monday 17 July 2017

It seems that, against all odds, in a department where everything else has changed around him, Schools Minister Nick Gibb is the Department for Education’s longest serving politician. His 3 years in post seems a lifetime, given that he’s worked under 3 different Education Secretaries in that time. Much of schools reform over the last few years can be attributed to Gibb. Changes to English and maths, the introduction of baseline testing and increased emphasis on GCSEs, have all been championed under his watch. GCSEs have been framed as the “gold standard” in qualifications.



P.S.H Everything

By Rachel Hopkins, Marketing Officer, Monday 17 July 2017

This year, sex and relationships education (SRE) has been made mandatory for all children over the age of four in all schools in England, whereas previously, this was only an obligation for council-run schools. This is one example of the changing world we live in, influencing timetabling decisions and identifying gaps in the core curriculum which may not necessarily be equipped to arm schoolchildren with some of the ‘life lessons’, that can be lacking amongst traditional academia. SRE fits neatly in to the every growing umbrella of Personal, Social, Health and Education (PSHE) which has formed part of the National Curriculum since 2000. However, as all elements are not compulsory, the contents can be hazy and the responsibility lies with the school to decide the content of this wide ranging subject. From personal safety and first aid to money management, PSHE is the epitome of the subject that would like to be all things to all pupils and where the ‘E’ could almost stand for ‘everything else’.



Here’s why apprenticeship opportunities for the young will now disappear

By Nick Linford, Writing exclusively for NCFE, Tuesday 11 July 2017

The government lied in both its 2015 and 2017 manifestos. It committed to “create three million apprenticeships for young people by 2020”, when in truth ‘young people’ are not being prioritised. In reality, apprenticeship starts of all ages count towards the target, and so far this year a record 47% of starts are adults aged 25 and over. In fact, since counting towards the target began in 2015, more than 10,000 apprenticeship starts have been for people aged 60 and over. Yes, you read that right, aged 60 and over.



10 qualities employers are looking for

By Katie Dawkins, Guest Blogger, Friday 30 June 2017

This article was researched and written by Katie Dawkins who joined our Communications Team from Whitley Bay High School on a work experience placement.



5 stages of the Functional Skills Reform

By David Redden, External Quality Assurance Officer, Wednesday 21 June 2017

Functional Skills qualifications are changing. As an active member of the Functional Skills Working Group, we want to keep you up to date with everything that is going on with the reform and open up a conversation with you, our customers, as this is your opportunity to create the qualification your learners need. Take a look at the 5 stages that have been taken so far in the journey of the Functional Skills reform. Stage 1



Is an IoT an HEI?

By Mick Fletcher, FE Policy Analyst, Tuesday 20 June 2017

The proposals in the Post-16 Skills Plan (July 2016) sought to revitalise higher technical education by creating a new binary system, perhaps responding to the popular sentiment that laments the loss of the polytechnics. On the one side of the line, there would be Higher Education (HE) delivered in the main by Universities and regulated by the Office for Students (OfS). On the other side of the line would be Higher Technical and Professional Education (HTPE) delivered by Colleges or new Institutes of Technology (IoT) and regulated by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE). In HE, autonomous institutions would design their own programmes as now; in HTPE institutions would only be funded to deliver programmes centrally developed to rules set by IfATE. HE could include provision at levels 4 and 5 but only if they form part of a programme leading to a full degree.  HTPE would, it seems, be essentially at sub-degree level. The proposals raised a number of questions. How, for example, would it raise the status of technical education, to clearly signal from the outset that it is in the second division? Why would colleges opt to deliver the centrally planned programmes of IfATE when new rules give them easier access to degree awarding powers that let them design their own? Why would we want two systems of regulation in HE when one would do?



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