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Department for Education (DfE) Key Stage 4 Performance Tables: Inclusion of 14-16 Qualifications from 2014 - Outcome of Appeals Process

 On 31st January 2012 the Department for Education (DfE) published the approved list of 'Key Stage 4 performance tables: Inclusion of 14-16 Qualifications from 2014'.

 The IMI wrote to the DfE to express our concern that no motor vehicle qualifications have been included on the list and the main Awarding Organisations operating in the sector appealed against the DfE's decision. The DfE has now published an updated list of qualifications that will count in performance tables (equivalences with GCSE's) including any qualifications that were successful in the appeals process, which can be found here:

 Unfortunately none of the automotive appeals were successful. However schools are still able to offer qualifications that are not included in the performance tables and there are a number of motor vehicle qualifications accredited by Ofqual, approved for pre-16 delivery and eligible for funding that are suitable. The DfE have pointed out that qualifications should not be offered solely on the basis of 'points' and centres should consider what is most appropriate for their learners.


Key Skills Announcement

In December 2010, John Hayes, Minister of State for Further Education Skills and Lifelong Learning confirmed the decision to extend the use of Key Skills qualifications from April 2011 to the end of September 2012. Following this awarding organisations amended the operational and certification end dates for these qualifications in the Regulatory IT System (RITS).

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has confirmed that the national test bank for Key Skills only contains sufficient material for the extended period and will, therefore, be exhausted for first teaching by September 2012. As a result, it will not be possible for awarding organisations offering Key Skills to continue to meet the regulatory criteria requirements for use of 'the agreed national tests' and, therefore, the status of the Key Skills qualifications on the Register cannot be further amended. This has a related impact not only upon Key Skills; but also Apprenticeships, Adults Basic Skills and ESOL provision.

A letter was sent from BIS on 24th March 2011 about the future role and operation of the Key Skills test bank and enclosing an implementation document, outlining the status of all related qualifications. This also covered Adult Basic Skills qualifications at Levels 1 and 2, which should not take any new enrolments after August 2012, and the Key Skills qualifications which will not take any beyond September 2012. As the literacy tests are also used within some Level 1 and 2 Skills for Life ESOL (English for Speakers of other Languages) qualifications, all such provision will also have a current operational end date of August 2012.

Ahead of the removal of Key Skills from the English Apprenticeship frameworks in September 2012, the IMI is directly working with the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and the Association of Colleges (AoC) to look at ways in which the assessment of Functional Skills could be changed to better suit Apprenticeships.


Employer Incentive (AGE 16 to 24) - Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16 to 24 year olds

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has announced a new employer incentive scheme called 'AGE 16 to 24' which is aimed at helping eligible employers to offer young people aged 16 to 24 employment through the Apprenticeship programme, by providing wage grants to assist employers in recruiting their first apprentice.

The new incentive scheme is designed to encourage small and medium sized employers to take on new apprentices aged 16 to 24 by providing 40,000 grants up to the value of £1,500. The £1,500 is in addition to the training costs of the Apprenticeship framework which are met in full for young people aged 16 to 18 and 50% for those aged 19 to 24.

The £1,500 grant is payable in two installments for eligible employers who commit to employ one or more 16 to 24 year old apprentices for the first time and is exempt from VAT.

The scheme will be available from 1st April 2012 until 31st March 2013 for employers who are able to offer a job opportunity to a young person. However eligible employers who have employed a new apprentice from 1st February 2012 will be able to apply for a grant subject to all of the eligibility criteria.
In terms of eligibility, priority will be given to small and medium sized employers with less than 250 employees. Large employers (more than 250 employees) are not eligible for support through this scheme. However NAS do want to encourage take up within the large employers small and medium enterprises (SME) supply chain.

Subject to budget availability and the employer's commitment to support the apprentice to the end of their programme, up to 3 grants can be made to any one employer. However, the employer must commit to the total number of apprentices they wish to take on through the grant at the upfront agreement stage.

Employers will sign an agreement which will include:

  • Confirmation of the number of apprentices they will be taking on as a result of this incentive (to a maximum of 3)
  • Confirmation that they wouldn't have taken the apprentice on without this additional incentive.
  • A commitment to employ the apprentice for at least the time it takes to achieve the Apprenticeship framework. If they fail to do this, some or all the wage allowance will be clawed back.
  • Confirmation that they are aware of and do not breach any state aid rules.
  • Agreement to pay the minimum Apprenticeship wage of £2.60 per hour - although this is a minimum and most employers pay more.
  • Confirmation that they have not taken on an apprentice in the previous three years*

*Not eligible if the employer employs an apprentice with an Individual Learning Record (ILR) start date of April 2009 or after.

Employers can check to see if they are eligible and to apply for 'AGE 16 to 24' by completing an online web enquiry form which can be downloaded from the NAS website or by calling NAS on 08000 150 600 to talk to an adviser.