New minimum standards system prompts questions

New minimum standards categories have been unveiled by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) for 2014/15 — but the sector has been left asking why they were not ready earlier.

Guidance for post-19 training, issued on Tuesday (October 28), revealed how qualification success rates (QSRs) will change. Previously, providers’ QSRs were divided into three categories — long, for courses of 24 weeks or more, short, for courses lasting two to 24 weeks, and very short, for less than two weeks.

However, these have been recategorised and further divided into 13 qualification types, including apprenticeship frameworks (which continue to have a 55 per cent success rate threshold), A-level (which continues at 75 per cent), AS-level (which continues at 63 per cent), awards, certificates and diplomas.

Association of Colleges senior policy manager Joy Mercer said: “It is disappointing these new methods and standards are implemented retrospectively — a pilot year would have been a better option.”

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Stewart Segal said: “Providers need to manage their provision in line with the minimum standards guidelines and these should be published well before the end of the year to which they are applied.”

Providers face the SFA intervention process if they fail to hit the QSR thresholds.