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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/esfa-update-20-january-2021/esfa-update-further-education-20-january-2021
1. Latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Department for Education has published guidance about COVID-19 in educational settings for staff, parents and carers, pupils and students on GOV.UK.
There is also guidance on the apprenticeship service about COVID-19.
Please check GOV.UK regularly for updates.
2. Reminder: mid-year funding claims for 2020 to 2021
The mid-year funding claim window will open at 9am on Monday 8 February 2021. We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone, and time and resources are under strain. However, we will still require you to submit an accurate mid-year claim so we have visibility of the challenges you are facing, which will inform the design of the year end reconciliation process.
Please submit your mid-year funding claim by 5pm on Friday 19 February 2021. This is slightly later than we originally published. The claim form will be available on Submit Learner Data.
You will need to submit a claim if you receive funds through:
- grant funded – ESFA adult education budget (AEB) (adult skills, community learning, 19 to 24 traineeships and COVID-19 skills offer)
- learner support for ESFA AEB procured (adult skills and 19 to 24 traineeships) – paid-on-profile
- grant funded - Advanced Learner Loans Bursary (ALLB)
Once you have submitted your claim you will also be able to view it on the Manage your education and skills funding.
If you have any queries about this, please contact your Territorial Manager.
3. Information: FE and Skills White Paper release
The Department for Education will publish tomorrow (21 January), the post-16 Further Education Skills for Jobs White Paper and response to Philip Augar’s independent government commissioned report, which highlighted a number of recommendations for post-18 education.
4. Information: rapid asymptomatic testing of adults who are attending colleges onsite
The government’s asymptomatic testing strategy will help to break the chains of transmission of coronavirus in education settings. The asymptomatic testing programme in secondary schools and colleges for staff, pupils and students, will help to identify asymptomatic positive cases.
The weekly testing of the education workforce should have begun as should testing for secondary school age students who are currently attending college.
In some cases, adults will be attending colleges onsite. These adult students can be tested if they are attending college onsite.
The asymptomatic testing programme does not replace the government’s current testing policy for those with symptoms. If you have symptoms, you should continue to book a test via the NHS website or by calling 119 in England, Wales and Scotland, or 0300 303 2713 Northern Ireland.
5. Information: extension of the Get Help with Technology programme to support disadvantaged students in FE
The Get Help with Technology programme is being extended to support disadvantaged students in further education to access remote education.
Further education providers will be eligible to receive devices where they have students that are aged 16 to 19 who are in receipt of free meals, and where they have students aged 19 and over with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) who are also in receipt of free meals.
Allocations of devices follow the same process as the existing scheme for schools and are based on estimates of the number of:
- students in receipt of free meals (FM) in FE aged 16 to 19 and those over 19 with an EHCP where they are also in receipt of FM in FE and,
- devices that providers already own.
The department will invite the majority of 16-to-19 providers to register with the service before the end of January and at this point providers will be notified of their allocations. Providers will need to complete some pre-order information and then will be able to go on and place their order once this has been verified. Currently the majority of orders are being fulfilled within 5 working days of being placed.
Note, you cannot access to the Get Help with Technology service until you have received an invitation from the department. To ensure we can fulfil orders, further education providers will be invited in waves. Further education providers who are already registered on the system because they have 14 to16 provision will be invited to order devices for their 16 to 19 cohort later this week. Other further education providers are due to be invited in waves from week commencing 25 January.
Device allocations will also be proportionately increased to reflect that DfE secured additional devices for schools and further education providers this year. Providers invited to order from 25 January will receive allocations that include this uplift from the outset. Providers invited to order before 25 January will receive allocations without the uplift and will receive a further invitation to order additional devices to reflect the uplift in the following weeks.
Providers will be able to state a preference for the types of device they will receive, based on the four types of device available and subject to availability. Like the existing scheme for schools, further education providers will own the laptops and tablets provided under this scheme and can lend these to the young people who need them the most. These devices must only be used for publicly funded students aged 16 to 19 and those aged 19 and over with an Education Health and Care Plan. Providers eligible to receive devices will also be able to access support for connectivity for disadvantaged students where they do not have access to the internet at home.
5.1 Get funding and support to set up a digital education platform
Find out how your college can apply for government-funded support to access one of two free-to-use digital education platforms. You can choose from either Google Suite for Education or Microsoft Office 365 Education. All colleges in England are expected to provide remote education so that their teachers and students can continue learning through online virtual classrooms.
6. Information: subcontracting returns following consultation response – extension to January deadlines
Earlier this year ESFA published the response to the subcontracting consultation. We updated you in November to extend the deadline from 31 December 2020 to 31 January 2021 for the following:
- 16 to 19 provision only: requests to continue with existing “distance learning” arrangements in 2021 to 2022
- 16 to 19 provision only: requests to continue with “whole programme subcontracting” arrangements in 2021 to 2022
- excluding ESF provision and local authorities: cases made to the agency If providers do not think they can reduce their subcontracting
COVID-19 restrictions have caused increased pressure amongst providers and, in response, we delayed publishing the follow-up document to the consultation response. When it goes ahead, this publication will set out further detail of what we expect from providers in relation to each reform proposal, including the requests to the agency set out above. Further information will be provided regarding what should be included in the request, where this should be sent to, and by when. We have removed the deadline of 31 January 2021, and new timelines will be published in the follow-up document.
We have been clear from the outset that we want the volume of subcontracted activity in the sector to reduce and we still expect all providers to continue to work toward implementing all aspects of the reforms. Removal of the specific deadlines set out above does not detract from that, but does demonstrate the agency is taking a more considered pace with enforcement, to lessen the burden on providers in the current climate.
7. Information: 16 to 19 funding allocations 2021 to 2022
We have updated our 16 to 19 funding allocations information for academic year 2021 to 2022:
- our timeline lets you know when you can expect your allocations. We update the timeline on a regular basis, so do keep checking back to see the latest updates
- we have confirmed the data sources for student numbers and other formula elements we’re using to calculating 2021 to 2022 allocation
- we have published the page where you will find information to help you understand your allocation
We have also published details about how 16 to 19 funding will work in academic year 2021 to 2022.
If you have any queries please contact us using our online enquiry form.
8. Information: high needs place change request outcomes 2021 to 2022
We have published the high needs place change request outcomes: 2021 to 2022 that will inform the funded place numbers for the 2021 to 2022 academic year in academies, free schools, further education colleges and independent learning providers.
You should review the published outcomes as soon as possible to ensure the numbers reflect those expected. If an institution is not listed, this means no change was notified for that institution and the published 2020 to 2021 place numbers will be used as the basis of the 2021 to 2022 allocation.
Local authorities, academies or further education institutions can contact ESFA to query their 2021 to 2022 place numbers between 20 January 2021 and 5 February 2021.
More information about the enquiry window can be found in the high needs place change process guidance.
9. Information: apprenticeship service employer agreement
Following the announcement to extend incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice until end March 2021, we have updated the ESFA Apprenticeship Agreement for Employers.
The latest version of the agreement will be available for employers to accept through their apprenticeship service account from 1 February 2021. Employers will need to accept the latest agreement if they wish to apply for incentive payments for apprentices who start their apprenticeship between 1 February 2021 and 31 March 2021, where they are eligible to do so.
We will also update the apprenticeship funding rules to reflect the extension.
10. Information: consultation on alternative arrangements for vocational and technical qualifications
The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic means that the government is of the view that it is not viable for external exams and assessments to go ahead for some vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) this year.
However, for VTQs that require a practical assessment to demonstrate occupational competency or to gain a licence to practise, we think that these assessments should continue to take place in school or college, where this is possible, subject to public health guidance.
It is really important we get views on these proposals, so on Friday we launched a joint consultation with Ofqual on the alternative arrangements for awarding Vocational and Technical qualifications where exams don’t go ahead. Our aim is to ensure that there is a fair, equitable and robust awarding of qualifications this academic year, and would encourage learners, staff, and providers to respond as we are keen to hear your views.
11. Information: webinar for colleges on supporting employers to access apprenticeship funding
The apprenticeship service is pleased to bring you the next in our series of support webinars. Join us on Wednesday 27 January 2021 at 12 noon when we will be discussing how colleges can support employers to access funding though the apprenticeship service.
The webinar will include information on:
- what the experience should feel like for the employer
- how employers could be supported
- what the challenges are for colleges in transitioning to an employer led funding model
- an update from a college about their experience
For more information, please see our webinar registration page.
12. Information: applications are open for influential employer external quality assurance (EQA) directory
Applications have opened for the new Employer Directory for apprenticeship EQA.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education announced its plans to move to a simplified EQA system in August 2020. The changes will see EQA delivered by Ofqual or, for integrated degree apprenticeships, the Office for Students (OfS).
The Institute is also setting up a new group of professional and employer-led organisations – called the Employer Directory - for Ofqual and OfS to draw on industry expertise. This will keep employers at the heart of protecting quality in apprenticeships.
Professional and employer-led bodies can apply to join, through the first window for applications, up to 4 February 2021.
If you would like to apply, visit the employer directory page on the Institute’s website.
13. Information: National Careers Service Virtual Careers Fair
The National Careers Service Virtual Careers Fair takes place next week on 27 to 28 January, bringing together a range of speakers to talk about their current opportunities and give first-hand industry insight. The event is split into two days:
13.1 Wednesday 27 January: Exhibition day
This is a chance to hear to hear from organisations about their opportunities, and hear the experiences of people doing the jobs; what to expect, what skills they need, and routes in. As well as other useful careers resources available on the day.
13.2 Thursday 28 January: Virtual Jobs Fair
The Fair will give people the chance to see vacancies in their local area.
The event will also have qualified National Careers Service advisers on hand throughout to provide advice and guidance, whether it’s talking further about the careers on display or answering any other questions people have about their next steps.
People can register their place and receive notifications as new sessions are added by visiting our Eventbrite page.
14. Your feedback: Publish to the course directory
As part of our ongoing commitment to continuous improvement of the ‘Publish to the course directory’ platform, we would appreciate your input, sharing with us your experience, specifically your experience of the Bulk Upload feature.
Your feedback will help us better understand how it is currently used to shape and inform the changes we are looking to make as we work to improve the facility.
Take part in our short survey. All input is gratefully received.