Nick Linford

  • Apprenticeship upturn need not be a predictable shift away from helping those in most need

    Last February, when Skills Minister Anne Milton was faced with a 41 percent fall in apprenticeships starts since the levy was introduced, she bravely told me she expected to see an upturn by September. “I will be told by my officials that I shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to say it anyway,” she said.

    12.30 Jan. 25th, 2019 | Opinion

  • Ofsted talk tough on integrity in new regime, but they can’t do it alone

    A first glance there is little new in the draft Common Inspection Framework and accompanying Handbook for FE and Skills, due for implementation from September. Those hoping for the four grade structure to change or the introduction of campus level inspections for college groups will be sorely disappointed. There was also an opportunity to take

    9.40 Jan. 18th, 2019 | Opinion

  • This year, if nothing else, won’t be boring for us in the FE and skills sector

    As the sun rises on 2019, the FE and skills sector is expecting another year of significant policy development. And in our first edition of the year, senior reporter Jude Burke takes a look at what to look out for in eight of the biggest policy areas. Here are my hot takes: 1. Apprenticeship reform

    11.37 Jan. 11th, 2019 | Opinion

  • It’s now obvious that urgent action is needed to quality assure all loans-only providers

    In 2013 the government moved several hundred million pounds of level three funding out of the adult skills budget, replacing some but not all of it with advanced learner loans. At the same time, the then Skills Funding Agency decided it was a good idea to give companies, many with no history of receiving public

    9.56 Nov. 30th, 2018 | Opinion

  • Quality of apprenticeship policy suffers from ‘insufficient progress’

    Two years ago FE Week exposed thousands of apprentices on standards without any approved end-point-assessment organisations. At the time, a former director of the DfE described the situation as “diabolical”. The chief executive of the ESFA, responsible for recruiting the end-point assessment organisations, was given a ticking off by the education select committee and then

    9.30 Nov. 9th, 2018 | Opinion

  • Why is the sector celebrating greater dependence on the public purse?

    In the past, the government paid 50 per cent of the costs towards the training of apprentices aged 19 and over. This rose to 67 per cent during the trailblazer pilot, then it rose again to 90 per cent in May 2017 once the new system was rolled out across England. Now, to stimulate more

    10.30 Nov. 2nd, 2018 | Opinion

  • Colleges Week should be a celebration with three messages for the chancellor

    Having spent more than seven happy years working for a large college in South East London I have seen first-hand the vital role they play in the education ecosystem. So the Association of Colleges is to be applauded for rallying the further education sector at short notice to celebrate the work of colleges. It was

    11.03 Oct. 12th, 2018 | Opinion

  • Euroskills Budapest 2018

    9.53 Oct. 5th, 2018 | Supplements

  • DfE finds much needed apprenticeship monitoring cash

    When the ESFA published the list of providers on the apprenticeship register in March 2017 we reported that the entire sector was shocked. Hundreds of companies, many never having filed a set of accounts, had successfully applied to a register that would give them unlimited access to apprenticeship funding. In an interview with me the

    10.43 Sep. 21st, 2018 | Opinion

  • AELP leaps to defence of level two apprenticeships

    Low-level apprenticeships should not be rubbished by “commentators and policy makers”, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers has claimed in a new report. The body wants ministers to use government spending and post-18 education reviews as an opportunity to “reverse the sharp fall in level two apprenticeships since May 2017”. The apprenticeship levy is

    10.04 Jun. 15th, 2018 | News

  • Only lawyers are guaranteed to win in the T-level AO tender

    With all eyes on the 52 providers taking care of wave one of the T-level delivery in 2020, the process to decide which awarding organisations will get their custom might seem like a comparative sideshow. In fact, removing providers’ choice of awarding organisations is not only controversial, it is where legal challenge seems most inevitable,

    10.03 Jun. 8th, 2018 | Opinion