The FE Week Annual Apprenticeship Conference – now in its third year – shone a spotlight on the importance of quality being maintained and hopefully improved as the system is transformed.

Held just days before the launch of the apprenticeship levy – and shortly after the announcement of the controversial Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers – it was a welcome opportunity for attendees to get up to speed on all the latest developments.

This souvenir supplement features just some of the many highlights from the three days.

Click here to download the AAC 2017 supplement

Quality was the common theme throughout AAC, which saw an array of prominent key note speakers from top politicians, civil servants and more, alongside over 65 indepth practical workshops.

Kirstie Donnelly, City and Guilds managing director, insisted quality had to be at the heart of reforms, which she fears are being pushed through too fast, in her speech on the opening day (page 3).

The Department for Education’s director of apprenticeships David Hill urged attendees not to “do a deal at a price you can’t deliver quality for” (page 4), while Keith Smith, director of funding and programmes at the Skills Funding Agency revealed the agency’s “uncompromising” stance towards delivering a “world-class” apprenticeship system (page 6).

Quality was also among the burning issues debated by a panel of sector leaders – you can read what they said on page 5.

An Ofsted double-header on page 7 looks at apprenticeships from the perspective of the education watchdog, while on page 14 Ofqual boss Sally Collier explains the work the exams regulator will be doing to support reforms.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon was unable to attend the conference, due to the terrible attack that took place in Westminster on the Wednesday. His sincere apologies were conveyed by his Labour counterpart Gordon Marsden, who used his appearance on the Thursday to set out his party’s five apprenticeship policy objectives (page 15).

Also on page 15, Shakira Martin, NUS vice-president for FE, spoke about the need for apprentices to be properly represented by the Institute for Apprenticeships. Peter Lauener, shadow chief executive of the IfA and chief executive of the Skills Funding Agency and Education Funding Agency revealed that the IfA board had “seized upon” quality “in all its aspects” in its first meeting (pages 16 and 17).

Page 18 is given over to WorldSkills UK – which represents quality in its highest form, with vox pops and tweets from throughout AAC opposite.

None of this could have happened without the support of our exhibitors and sponsors. Particular thanks to our headline partners AELP, the DfE and City and Guilds, and our conference sponsors Pearson, NOCN and Smart Assessor. And thanks to all the speakers who made time to provide useful key note speeches and workshops. Enjoy!

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