Friday, 20 November 2015

Major funding changes coming

Major funding changes coming
At the AOC conference earlier this week, Nick Boles spoke about funding and apprenticeships. Whilst everyone (not just this sector), is awaiting news from next week's spending review, a few things became very clear.
Overall budgets are going down - but by how much is still speculation. 
Currently, the Government is spending £1.5bn on Apprenticeships, Colleges get around 35% of this total.  Nick Boles made it clear that this budget will increase over the next 4 years as the Government closes in on the 3m Apprenticeship starts.
The Minister made it clear to the AOC audience that he was expecting Colleges to increase their share of this budget and reduce reliance on sub-contracting. So with overall budgets going down, but Apprenticeship funding protected, budgets in other areas will come under major pressure.

The Minister also said that the way that funding is distributed will also change.  By 2020, the SFA and EFA will not be the key funding source, instead employers, the apprenticeship levy and vouchers will be the source on Apprenticeship funding - this represents a very significant change over the coming years.

Friday, 6 November 2015


Every year, we survey the thoughts of the post-16 community about English and Maths.  The survey is open now with results expected to be published in the new year.

If you are involved in supporting or teaching learners in Apprenticeships or Traineeships, please have your say, the survey is 20 questions long, and apart from the basics, you can skip the questions where you have no interest or experience.  Above all, your thoughts and opinions will influence how English and maths is delivered in the post-16 sector.

Apprenticeship Mix

Changing the Apprenticeship Mix
Everyone will have heard about the Government's apprenticeships target of 3 million new starts.

FE Week are asking the question whether the Government's drive towards these numbers will have a big change in the FE sector.  It's a very fair point, there is a significant difference between the delivery and therefore funding of full time study programmes compared to mainly employer based Apprenticeships and so far, the numbers of 17 year olds on Apprenticeship programmes is low.

A little bit of digging into the recently published SFA stats reveals some interesting stats based on the 2014/15 year just completed.

  • Almost 60% of Apprenticeship starts are at level 2, just 4% are at level 4 or above. 
  • The most popular sectors are Business, Health and Care, Retail and Engineering making up 90% of all starts.
  • 25% of starts are by those aged 16-18, 32% are 19-24 and the largest sector is the 25+ age group with 43% of starts.

Perhaps these statistics do show that the Government sees the growth in the 16-18 sector as being the biggest opportunity?

Friday, 23 October 2015

Newsletter with Government statements, expos, e-learning all to do with English and maths for the post-16 sector.

Edition 203 - Friday October 23rd 2015

This week we have brought together a number of different threads involving Apprenticeships and Functional Skills.

We all know about the 3 million apprenticeship promise and the apprenticeship levy proposals, but now we're also seeing some opposition to activities and plans - we pull together those threads below.

We also have news of a new type of expo event organised by AELP - ForSkills are in the e-learning zone which is entirely appropriate as ForSkills is the ONLY company able to support claims of e-learning success with independent evidence and we have a link to a new "prezi" about that.

As always, feel free to contact Jonathan Wells, the editor of this newsletter on 0191 3055045 or

Government support, but plenty of criticism too.

An interesting week or two that has seen plenty of Government support for Functional Skills and Apprenticeships mixed with some negativity on both quality and quantity.

Nick Boles, in commissioning the ETF reform programme, makes it totally clear that Functional Skills is here to stay (see our little sample image below) and in a separate address he also provides lots of support for promoting Apprenticeships by Apprentices.

But at the same time, Emily Thornberry of labour was expressing her concern about burger flipping Apprenticeships.

Ofsted then weighed in with their comments, albeit based on quite a small sample, which the BBC reported last week under the headline "devaluing brand".

AELP robustly defended Apprenticeships and issued a statement following their Autumn conference to that effect.
E-learning works

A short on-line "prezi" of the University of Sunderland research on e-learning

Are you prepared for the digital future?

Keeping up to date with the developments in ICT that support digital technology including e-learning and e-assessment is vital to the success of the sector.

On November 5th at the ILEC Conference Centre, London, AELP will hold a new type of event - the #aelptechexpo

Featuring five dedicated zones, a dozen workshops, great speakers and exhibitor briefings, this is an event for your diary.

Friday, 16 October 2015

ETF to manage reform programme for Functional Skills

Functional Skills reform off and running

The Education and Training Foundation have been commissioned by the Government to produce a programme to reform Functional Skills.

The initial report will be delivered to Ministers in August 2016 with the intention of having the new qualifications available for 2018.

Our view is that this is genuinely good news that shows Functional Skills have significant support from the Government. Indeed Nick Boles (BIS Minister) said that "Functional Skills are delivering an employer-recognised level of English and maths skills that help learners into lasting work".

Full details of the announcement.

Changes to Assessments

Functional Skills Changes

English Reading
Source materials will have more resemblance to what candidates see in their daily activities. At level 2 there will be at least three texts to read.

Answers will require more explanations rather than ‘lists’. There will be a greater variety in terms of coverage so that it will be more important to teach skills rather than ‘teach to the test’.

English Writing
There will be less guidance and structure, requiring candidates to provide more extended responses. There will be an emphasis on candidates working in normal ways, so a clarification that grammar and spellcheckers are allowed.

At level 2, candidates with weak SPaG will not necessarily be able to pass purely on the content marks.

The format of assessments will remain unchanged with three assessments covering number; measures, shape and space; and handling data. There will be reduced guidance within tasks, less scaffolding of questions. There will also be an addition of specific planning and reviewing steps for cdates to demonstrate the effectiveness of their working.

Task 1 (number) will have the most significant changes with a planning step at the start, reduction in guidance throughout and a review at the end of the task. Tasks 2 and 3 will have a similar structure to existing assessments but with reduced guidance.

Friday, 25 September 2015

16 to 19 funding for maths and English

Key changes from previous guidance are:
Where targets for 2014/15 were missed by less than 5%, no funding deduction will be made. Outside of this 5% tolerance, the funding reduction per student will be reduced from 100% to 50% of the national funding rate.
The Government have said that 97% of students without GCSE A*-C did an approved course (typically either Functional Skills or GCSE re-sit) in 2014/15 which means that 35,000 students did not.  Institutions who did not fully comply will also be required to complete a survey to say why and what they are doing to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Almost all Apprenticeship programmes retain Functional Skills as an option, as does adult learning courses.  The full guidance is here.