New funding rates for functional skills English and maths will be brought forward to January 2024, the government’s director for apprenticeships has announced.
Kate Ridley-Moy told today’s Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ conference the Department for Education will fast-track the uplift after originally planning to introduce it at the start of the 2024/25 academic year.
From January, all apprentices who have not gained their level 2 English and maths qualification will have their funding lifted to match the adult education budget – moving the rate up by 54 per cent from £471 to £724 increase.
It will, however, only apply to new starters and not those already on programme.
Ridley-Moy said: “I know this increase is something that many of you have long made the case for. So I’m pleased to confirm that we will introduce this uplift for new starts from January 2024.”
She told the conference bringing in new funding rates and policies mid-year can cause “confusion and make things difficult” but her officials felt that this was “so important that we wanted to work with the Treasury and the ESFA to make sure that we could bring that in as soon as possible”.
QAR’s looking ‘substantially higher’
Ridley-Moy, who recently replaced Peter Mucklow as the DfE’s top apprenticeships civil servant, also said the sector’s qualification achievement rates (QARs) are looking “substantially higher” in 2022/23 than in recent previous years.
Education secretary Gillian Keegan recently said that improving QARs is one of her “top priorities” as the sector continues to target a 67 per cent rate by 2025. The rate in 2020/21 was 57.7 per cent and dropped to 53.4 per cent in 2021/22.
Ridley-Moy said today: “It’s an encouraging sign that the number of apprenticeship achievements up to quarter three in 2022/23 was substantially higher than previous years. I’m grateful for the role that each and every one of you is playing to help us achieve this ambition.”
While she couldn’t give an insight into what “substantially higher” looks like in terms of figures, she added “we’re definitely seeing an impact on achievement rates from all of the work to drive quality that’s been going on”.
The apprenticeships director also revealed the DfE is exploring ways with the Cabinet Office and Treasury to use more up-to-date, in-year data to monitor providers rather than relying upon year-old QARs.