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20.05.2021 | By Teresa Quail

Skills and Post-16 Education Bill

Posted in News

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill was introduced in Parliament on May 18th and the Bill print is now available. You can access the press release and Bill documents via the following links:

·                     Press Release

·                     Bill print


Skills and Post-16 Education Bill

“The Bill sets out the legislative changes needed to implement reforms outlined in the Skills for Jobs White Paper and proposals in the Review of Post-16 Qualifications. The proposed legislation will support:

·         A flexible Lifetime Skills Guarantee: supporting the introduction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement, which will give all individuals access to the equivalent of 4 years of student loans for higher-level study. The loans can be used flexibly across their lifetime, full-time or part-time, for modules or full qualifications, for high-quality technical qualifications and academic education;

·         Putting employers at the heart of post-16 skills: by providing the statutory underpinning for local skills improvement plans as part of the Skills Accelerator;

·         Providing the technical skills the country needs: by introducing new quality requirements for technical qualifications, streamlining regulatory arrangements undertaken by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and Ofqual, and introducing a single approval gateway for technical qualifications (further detail below);

·         Responsive providers supported by effective accountability and funding: by placing duties on providers to review their provision and structure to meet local needs; by extending the Secretary of State’s statutory FE intervention powers; by taking powers to make regulations for a list of post-16 providers with registration conditions aimed at protecting learners in event of provider failure; and

·         Supporting outstanding teaching: including by taking powers to make regulations for the purpose of improving or securing the quality of FE initial teacher training.

The Bill also proposes measures to improve the FE insolvency regime, simplifying how a college becomes a “designated institution” and other technical improvements; and to make clear that the Office for Students has the ability to set requirements and make assessments in relation to quality by reference to absolute student outcomes rather than relative benchmarks.

Technical education qualification measures – overview

The proposed legislation will allow the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) to approve a broader range of technical education qualifications. This will support the implementation of the proposals in the Post-16 Qualifications Review and in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, ensuring that the majority of technical education is linked to employer-led standards by 2030.

It will also embed collaboration between the Institute and Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) for the approval and regulation of technical education qualifications. This will streamline and reinforce the long-term stability of the technical education qualification regulatory framework.

In practice, it means:

·         The Institute will have an oversight role to ensure the system of technical education and training within its remit is coherent. It will have a categorisation and approval function for a broader range of technical education qualifications in addition to T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications. Furthermore, the Institute will have a role in advising on the relationship between non-qualifications-based provision (such as traineeships and skills bootcamps) and employer-led standards.

·         There will be scope for the Institute to manage the number of qualifications that are approved. This will include the ability to issue a moratorium on approving new qualifications of a particular kind (e.g. in a particular occupational area, level and category), subject to consultation and in agreement with the Secretary of State for Education. There will also be scope for the Institute to charge fees in relation to the approval of qualifications, subject to regulations published by the Secretary of State.

·         Through regular reviews of approved qualifications, the Institute will determine whether a qualification should continue to be approved, whether it requires revision, or whether approval should be withdrawn. This will ensure that qualifications remain available where they continue to meet the criteria against which they were approved.

·         The Institute will be able to take steps to allow for the availability of T Levels in countries outside England.

·         Ofqual and the Institute currently share the regulatory and oversight responsibilities for technical education qualifications through voluntary collaboration. The legislation will not change how this works in practice but will future-proof the stability of the collaborative relationship between the two bodies. It will also create a single approval gateway for technical education qualifications by taking them out of scope for separate statutory accreditation by Ofqual.

The Government response to the Review of Post-16 Qualifications at level 3 will build on the Bill and set out more detail about the range of technical qualifications that the Government will fund for 16-19 year olds and adults. We expect to publish this in due course.”

Department for Education