Councils failing to track learners’ status, Ofsted director to claim

Councils failing to track learners' status, Ofsted director to claim

Councils are failing to track the status of learners in FE colleges and other training providers, a senior Ofsted director will claim in a speech to the sector tomorrow (Wednesday, September 10).

Ofsted’s director of FE and skills Lorna Fitzjohn will demand legal powers for councils to enable them to force colleges and other FE providers to report on the status of their learners.

She will also use the event, Ofsted’s annual FE and skills lecture, to publish the findings of the watchdog’s survey report into the government’s 16 to 19 study programmes.

In her speech, Ms Fitzjohn will say that while councils have a duty to collect data from schools, colleges and FE providers, they have no power to enforce it, making it nearly impossible for Ofsted to know the true number of young people not in education, employment or training (Neet).

She will recommend giving councils legal powers to require providers to record and report on the status of their learners.

She will say: “All education providers need to implement the principals of the 16 to 19 study programmes and senior leaders made accountable for this. Learners must also be given access to impartial careers advice which gives them a clear idea of the paths available to them.”

Ms Fitzjohn will also call for the government to widen its focus away from reducing the number of young people not in education, employment and training (Neet).

She is expected to say will say that, a year on from the launch of study programmes, “much more is to be done to ensure a secure future for all those at 16 and beyond”.

She will add: “Much of the focus in tackling the number of young people classed as Neet has been on the 16 to 18 age group, however, this focus is too narrow and does not capture the full extent to which young people are falling through the cracks.

“If we look at the 16 to 24 age group then the number of young people not in education, training or working full-time rises to 1.18 million. 955,000 of these young people would fall into the Neet category. This age group is at risk of becoming the ‘new NEETs’.

“One initiative set up by the government to tackle this are the ambitious 16 to 19 study programmes.  This aims to make sure providers give learners a tailored course that benefits their aspirations, offer beneficial work experience placements and ensuring all learners have achieved GCSEs in English and mathematics at grade C or above.

“In conjunction with increasing the education and training participation age to 17, and next year to 18, the scheme looks to equip learners with the extra skills and experience they need to achieve their career aims.”

Ms Fitzjohn will also state that many local authorities are failing to track the progress of learners in their area, with the destinations of 40,000 16 to 17-year-olds currently unknown.