All courses to have online content to secure SFA funding, announces Skills Minister Matthew Hancock

All courses from September next year will need to have an online component in order to attract Skills Funding Agency (SFA) cash, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock announced today.

The announcement forms part of the government’s response to recommendations from the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (Feltag),  in March. It called for a minimum of 10 per cent of all courses to be delivered online, among other things.

“During 2014 to 2015 we will work with a small number of awarding organisations, employers and providers to take forward ‘online-only trailblazers’, focused initially on vocational qualifications,” said Mr Hancock at the Spectator Skills Forum, at the Institute of Directors, in London.

“This will allow us to road-test the funding and audit implications of online delivery, and crucially, to understand how we move from a skills funding system based solely on ‘contract and contact’ to one which responds to progress, without compromising on quality.

“Alongside the online-only funding rate, from 2015 to 2016 the SFA will also introduce a business rule for the approval of funding: setting out a minimum online threshold for the delivery of course content. We will be announcing both the rate and threshold in the autumn.”

The Twitter hashtag #CareersLab is in use for event coverage. See edition 107 of FE Week (dated Monday, June 23) for more on the government’s response to Feltag.

Pictured, from left, is Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, National Grid chief executive Steve Holliday and event chair Andrew Neil.

Pic: Twitter account of Tony Moloney (@MoloneyEdu), head of education & Skills at National Grid, non-exec director National Skills Academy for Power, Engineering UK Business & Industry

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  1. Pete Smith

    More nonsense with no credability whatsoever. Why wont industry, who have shunned proper apprenticeships with worthwhile job outcomes and politicians masquerading as education chiefs, who’s experience of education is limited to their own (usually private)school experience keep out of education. Since the 50’s education has been the victim of vast quanties of pointless intitives that have done nothing but lower the quality of education to the point where grade C GCSE students can barely read and write. What is needed is well resourced education establishments, well paid enthusiastic staff who’s skills in teaching are high and a massive cut in all the pointless testing and recording etc that gets in the way of teaching and learning. Teaching used to be rewarding and fun, but nobody can remember when.

  2. Pete, I agree to a point with your comments, I believe the direction of education should be taken away from politicians and instead given to some new non-political body who can listen to the wisdom of elected representatives but through their own research, planning and global best practice develop a long term strategy that will allow colleges, schools and others to plan knowing the direction and what is expected not just next year, but 3, 4 years into the future. This responsive nature needs to stop.

    Introducing ICT for me is not ready to replace teaching, considering the ability and needs of school leavers ICT is ideal to provide additional support to students away from the classroom.

  3. JAne Do

    Replace us with an App? I don’t think so and neither do my students; I’ve asked them! Whilst students may use technology to ‘function’, they still want/need the individual and personal contact of a teacher. Politicians need to study how we actually learn as individuals and not be convinced by ‘slick talking salesmen/women’ who advocate technology as the way to go as once the initial cost has been made, online learning equates to financial savings, whilst also equating to an income generator. That is not the point of any education establishment. Lack of investment in education by the government, of any country, equates to a poor economy. We live in a society that expects instant results and failure to produce instant results equates to the accusation of us not doing our job properly. I have just been congratulated on one group of my student’s results, which were fantastic. Every time I have been congratulated in this way, management get the same reply, I have just done my job and the students have done theirs. If my students don’t achieve, that’s because of their lack of effort, not mine. All my students get the same quality of teaching. Let us address issues such as making students take responsibility for their actions and help them to learn to think for themselves. What we have currently are students, their parents, our management and government (of all parties) using us as scapegoats for their failures. Then, and only then, will this country produce a workforce that is innovative and able to compete in a global market.

  4. Garry Sylvester


    If students were to be taught as you would expect the four basic requirements: – Maths, English, Science and Technology to a good standard, with other areas of the curriculum covered to fill the gaps maybe we wouldn’t be forced down these avenues by the politicians. They are looking for quick fixes and not really addressing the issue. When schools and colleges are required to pass as many students as possible because of funding, then what do you expect, good grades! Well taught students! Students with knowledge that they can apply to future work opportunities! (I don’t think so). We have become, because of what is required of us, qualification factories where we churn out students with the necessary qualification regardless of their actual skills. Is it no wonder that we have a critical skills shortage in this country and the only way to fill this gap is to import talent? Let us do our jobs in the way that we can and produce the students the country requires for the future. I am not advocating that we should abandon the failing students but they must be engaged in other ways to help in their development. We need high fliers to help this country achieve what we once had.

  5. Carolyn Lewis

    As a learning technology consultant you might expect me to disagree with what has been said, however I do agree that the government’s approach to developing the use of learning technologies and online learning is not the best way forward. Technology and online learning can massively enhance delivery of learning and assessment when it is used to meet a need, whether that need be improved engagement, efficiency or access to learning.

    I do think that we find ourselves where we are because so much of the sector has not embraced the potential of blended learning. There are occasions when technology is not the best resource, but equally there are many occasions when it is. However, trainers need to be skilled sufficiently to identify the right technology to be used at the right time. They need to have the skills to develop online resources that can deliver knowledge requirements and also personalise learning. Pedagogical skills to deliver online learning have to be developed and unfortunately SMT often neglect these areas of professional development.

    I know that learning technologies can bring huge benefits, but I think we will only see the sector as a whole embracing blended learning if the government funds a national professional development programme for all teachers and trainers.