Here are some key items relative to careers from the wonderfully informative June Click newsletter for those working in FE in England:
- the Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill will require JobCentre Plus (JCP) advisers to work with schools across England to ‘supplement careers advice’. A new Youth Allowance for unemployed 18-21 year olds will be established. This will be paid for a maximum of six months, after which, the recipient will be required to participate in an apprenticeship, training or a community work placement. Automatic entitlement to housing support for 18-21 year olds will be ended
- The government has set a target of creating 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. The budgets for colleges in the FE and Skills sector will be cut further ostensibly to fund the expansion of apprenticeships. This is linked to a wider debate in government about whether or not general FE colleges have a future. In her latest report, ‘Heading for the precipice: can further and higher education policies be sustained?’ Professor Alison Wolf warns that government ‘plans to create 3 million new apprenticeship starts by 2020 are largely unfunded’ and that ‘FE could vanish into history to foot the bill’.
- Matthew Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office, will chair the ‘Earn or Learn’ trouble shooter taskforce to monitor progress on creating 3 million new apprenticeships and helping employers create the two million new jobs needed to achieve full employment
- The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill will pave the way for the Greater Manchester and Sheffield City Regions to control the skills budgets for their region. This will be extended in due course to other city regions that have an elected mayor
- The Education and Adoption Bill includes proposals for those schools judged by Ofsted to be ‘inadequate’ or ‘coasting’, to be automatically be converted into academies. Ofsted has published new inspection handbooks (wef September 2015) and will shortly be publishing a report on apprenticeship provision in colleges
- Conservative MP, Neil Carmichael has been elected as the Chair of the Education Select Committee, replacing Conservative MP, Graham Stuart. John Woodcock has been appointed as the new Shadow Minister for Young People
- The DfE has made a number of announcements relating to GCSEs and the proposed English Baccalaureate (EBacc). These are as follows:
- It has been confirmed that, from 2017, for GCSE examinations in England (but not in other UK countries) grading will switch from the letters A to G to the numbers 9 to 1 (with 9 being the highest grade). The ‘good pass’ grade that will be used in school performance tables from that date will be a grade 5. This is located between the low B and high C grade in the current grading scheme.
- The new GCSE grade 5 ‘good pass’ in English and mathematics ‘will be aligned with the 16-19 English and mathematics funding condition’. This will happen on a phased basis. For the academic years 2017/18 and 2018/19 the funding condition will be based on the new GCSE grade 4.
- All pupils in England will be required to study GCSEs in EBacc subjects. These subjects are English, mathematics, science, a language, and history or geography. If schools do not offer these subjects they will not be eligible to receive an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rating. Other than for pupils with special needs, every new Year 7 pupil will be required be taking the EBacc subjects by the time they reach Year 11 (in 2020). Wherever possible, schools are expected to comply with the requirement earlier than this.
- John Cridland, the Director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has called on the government to scrap GCSEs altogether. He proposes an alternative system in which the key exams would be GCE A Levels, that would include both academic and vocational subjects, with each having equal status, taken at the age of 18.
- FE colleges that piloted the requirement for students with GCSE grade D in English or mathematics to re-sit the GCSE (rather than take a Level 2 equivalent) alongside their other studies reported that it was a logistical nightmare to administer
- The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has published a report that examines barriers to entry for people from less privileged backgrounds gaining employment with elite firms (eg in accountancy, law and financial services). The Commission’s report says that top firms are recruiting from a ‘small pool of middle and upper class graduates, who have usually attended private or selective state schools’.
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