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A positive start to the new term

By Esme Winch, Managing Director, Thursday 21 September 2017

Following the latest announcement from the Department for Education (DfE), we’re delighted to have strengthened our offer for schools with 19 qualifications approved in the 2019 tables. This includes the extension of our creative provision with qualifications in Craft where the flexibility of this qualification allows for the ability to cover topics such as Materials Technology, Fashion and Textiles and Food and Cookery. Alongside CACHE qualifications in Childcare and Development and new NCFE Technical Awards in Graphic Design and Interactive Media, our qualifications for schools represent a broad and comprehensive introduction to technical learning. We are responding to feedback from the DfE on the qualifications which were not successful. Although, it must be said, we have fared somewhere in the middle when comparing ourselves to the variations in success seen by other Awarding Organisations (AOs).

Non-levy tendering, still non-moving

By Andrew Gladstone-Heighton, Policy Leader, Thursday 21 September 2017

As Nick Linford is right to point out in his recent blog , the non-levy tendering process has been fraught with own goals and confusion in setting out how a large amount of apprenticeship provision could be delivered. If the government is serious about its manifesto commitment to grow apprenticeships, then it’s going the right way to significantly damage the provider base that will deliver these. As the (revised) deadline for tender submissions has passed, we now enter a nervous waiting period as we see who has been successful in receiving their allocations, and indeed, if the allocations received meet the amounts tendered for.

Collaboration providing the key to success

By Rachel Hopkins, Marketing Officer, Thursday 21 September 2017

We’re delighted to highlight the successful working relationship of Stephenson College and educational publisher and NCFE partner, Learning Curve Group (LCG). Working together, the two organisations have enjoyed a successful working relationship for over 5 years, which has had significant impact and benefits for the learners at Stephenson College. Debbie Torr, Development Manager at Stephenson College, said of the partnership: “Over the past 5 years, we’ve been able to grow and improve our offer for learners as a direct result of working alongside Learning Curve Group who provide materials to facilitate distance learning”.

AELP release 14 points for government to address on Apprenticeship reform

By Andrew Gladstone-Heighton, Policy Leader, Thursday 21 September 2017

Today, the Association of Employers and Learning Provides (AELP) set out their recommendations for government to address as part of the apprenticeship reforms.  The 14 recommendations centre on enhancing of social mobility and broadening apprenticeships opportunities. The recommendations are timely, coming just 4 months after the implementation of the apprenticeship Levy, and after the recent iteration of the tendering process for non-levy procurement. Everyone engaged in the delivery and assessment of apprenticeships is mindful of the consequences of the ‘new world’ of levy funding.


By Esme Winch, Managing Director, Thursday 21 September 2017

Over the summer, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) set out how they would fund workplace learning. In an example of how a seemingly minor piece of wording can alter delivery throughout the sector, they initially set out how they wouldn’t fund any workplace learning, relevant to a learner’s job and/or their employers business. The Funding Rules for 16/17 stated that:

Time for T?

By Esme Winch, Managing Director, Thursday 21 September 2017

Once parliament returns on 9 October, we hope to see some visible process on the Post-16 Skills Plan. What is a positive revelation, is the inclusion of independent training providers being properly referenced. The initial release of the Post-16 Skills Plan appeared to only mention college-based programmes of learning. We have since learned that this was an oversight from the Department for Education where they were making a shorthand reference to all classroom-based learning.

New year, new look, new qualifications

By Rachel Hopkins, Marketing Officer, Wednesday 20 September 2017

The new session follows a tense wait by NCFE, and many other Awarding organisations, as we anticipated the response and feedback from the Department for Education on which of our qualifications have been approved in the 2019 performance tables. We’re delighted to have 19 qualifications approved, including the new Level 2 Award in Childcare and Development from CACHE, which is the only level 2 qualification that serves as an introduction to child development and well-being. We’re delighted with the progress that we’re making for technical education and continue to work closely with the DfE on the feedback received to develop more technical qualifications and expand our offer further. 

It’s always darkest before the Dawn

By Kievah Wallace, PR and Social Media Officer, Wednesday 20 September 2017

Over the summer, we’ve seen young people all over the country receiving their GCSE and A Level results and witnessed the dizzying highs but also some disappointing lows when results aren’t what pupils were hoping for. As an Awarding Organisation that specialise in vocational and technical qualifications, we want to highlight the importance of diversity in learning. Young people are under pressure to achieve academically but the world is changing rapidly and with new technologies and sectors emerging, traditional academia may no longer be fit for purpose across all sectors. We need to ensure we empower young people to embrace change in learning and let them know that there isn’t just one route to success. We’ve been speaking to colleagues here at NCFE about their own career journeys and paths to success, and have been taking part in the #NoWrongPath campaign on social media. What we’ve learned is that everyone is so different, life throws curveballs that you don’t see coming, and that it’s never too late to change direction and learn something new.

DfE Performance Tables and Schools Update

By Lucy Thompson, Product Manager, Wednesday 13 September 2017

I’m Lucy Thompson, Product Manager for Schools here at NCFE. I’m responsible for ensuring that we have great qualifications to offer pupils aged 14 to 16, useful resources to help in delivering the qualifications, and to ensure that our schools receive fantastic service from our support teams. The past week has seen social media awash with ‘first day’ photos as children begin a new year at school. With this in mind we want to let you know how NCFE will be supporting schools this year.

The Perils of Public Procurement

By Mick Fletcher, FE Policy Analyst, Tuesday 12 September 2017

Two big stories have surfaced in the FE press in recent weeks.  One concerns the complex and convoluted process introduced by the ESFA to determine how public funding for those apprenticeships not covered by the levy will be allocated.  Commentators and sector representatives have expressed increasing alarm fearing that colleges and other providers will be destabilised and the ultimate losers will be potential apprentices.  Those not up to speed with the issue can find a good account by Nick Linford on the NCFE blog so the details are not repeated here. The other story, which broke only recently, concerns Somerset Skills and Learning (SSL), the dominant provider of adult education in the county, which until now has offered hundreds of courses to thousands of students.  After its extensive programme had been advertised, staff and students recruited and premises booked, it learned at the very last minute that its funding allocation had been cut by an astonishing 97%.  I must declare an interest: I have paid fees up front to an organisation that is now threatened with bankruptcy and the need to sack hundreds of staff; it is not just my ability to learn Italian but also my hard-earned cash that is threatened.


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