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Chancellor to announce ‘over £500m’ per year in extra funding for post-16 skills reform

Chancellor to announce ‘over £500m’ per year in extra funding for post-16 skills reform

 The Budget will invest new funding in FE from 2019 to pay for increasing the amount of training for 16 to 19-year-olds by more than 50 per cent to over 900 hours a year.

 

This will come as a welcome surprise to the FE sector, as when the Sainsbury reforms were first outline in the Post-16 Skills Plan last June it was to be achieved “within current budget constraints.”

But today the Treasury has confirmed that at the Spring Budget, on Wednesday, the Chancellor will put in an additional £100m for the first teaching on new technical education routes in 2019/20 (the final year of this spending review period). This will rise each year as more routes are introduced, until there is teaching on all 15 routes in September 2022, when the extra funding will reach an annual figure “over £500m”.

The chief executives for both the college and independent sector membership bodies enthusiastically welcomed the announcement of new funding. David Hughes, chief executive of the AoC and writing in FE Week said he was “delighted that the Chancellor has listened” to their calls for “fair funding for colleges”. He goes on to say: “The announcement certainly signals a step-change in thinking, backed thankfully by proper investment which will put us on a par with our international competitors” and “this announcement will make a significant and positive difference.”

The Treasury has described this “major” and “radical investment” as “the most ambitious post-16 education reforms since the introduction of A-levels 70 years ago.” Mark Dawe, chief executive of AELP told FE Week: “The increased investment in technical skills for a post-Brexit Britain is welcome.  Combined with apprenticeships, this will have a real impact.” A statement from the Treasury concludes the post-16 skills reform “will help deliver a vision to have two genuine routes of equal footing to develop world class skills for young people; either via a well-established academic route or a technical skills route with a new and improved upgraded system – helping to build an economy that works for everyone.

However, those with not so distant memories will hope this latest reform does not repeat the failures of the 14-19 Diploma’s introduced in 2008 and phased out in 2013. “The post-16 alternatives to GCSEs and A levels in schools and colleges need to be more widely available and to be credible with employers” said the 2005 White Paper, adding: “This major package of reform seizes a once-in-a-generation chance to transform 14-19 education and skills.”

The Budget will also announce the introduction of FE maintenance loans for students on courses at level 4 and above at National Colleges and Institutes of Technology, as well as “a fund of up to £40m” for “piloting new approaches to encourage lifelong learning”.

Article courtesy of FE Week (www.feweek.co.uk)

 

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