Ministers have been urged to guarantee training providers’ income and for the Department for Education to relax funding rules during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Mark Dawe has asked officials to honour non-levy and other funding contracts, including European Social Fund and subcontracts regardless of performance.
He also called for all combined authorities with a devolved adult education budget to do the same, and for apprenticeship funding to be guaranteed, as a minimum, at the average draw down for levy starts from the past three months.
Yesterday, education secretary Gavin Williamson announced that GCSE and A-level exams will no longer take place this summer.
In a letter to his members this morning, Dawe said has told the government: “I must insist now this is extended to apprenticeships and that the requirement to have end-point observations is dropped.”
While nothing has yet been agreed with the DfE, the AELP told them the following measures will be “required” for providers:
Change in break in learning, increasing from four weeks and make it a general rule, not something that is applied for. If the crisis is predicted to be three months long, then breaks in learning or delays in learning up to this period of time, three months, should be allowed for all the above eventualities – with the appropriate sign-off from the employer and the provider. However, while this helps data and success, we know that it still leaves a hole in funding which is why we have asked for profile funding as described above.
An acceptance that the period of training is likely to be extended due to delays in on-the-job, off-the-job or both – and the need to consider the financial consequences of these delays.
Flexibility between on and off-the-job required during this period if a provider can demonstrate appropriate development of knowledge, skills and behaviour through the delivery put in place in whatever form.
Confirmation the gateway exercise can be done remotely and does not need to be done face-to-face.
Functional skills – there is a deadline to complete the old functional skills assessment – given possible delays in delivery, this deadline needs to be moved.
Changes to assessment rules and regulations will also be required, Dawe wrote, such as:
Face to Face assessment: Some assessments are required to be face to face in the standard, when they could be delivered remotely – there should be a rule change for the period of the crisis (at least) to allow remote where possible.
Assessment Order: There is often a requirement for a particular order of assessments – this should be relaxed to allow flexibility.
Staff present: some assessments require a manager to be present – again this needs to be dropped to allow assessments to be done at home / in isolation.
Invigilation: there will still be issues about independent invigilation of functional skills assessments and assessments such as EPA multiple choice. Employers staff should be allowed to invigilate these with appropriate rules and controls in place – agreed across the system – not by EPAO or individual EQA. Simply the employer staff used should not be involved in the training of the apprentice. They can be easily trained as invigilators remotely.
Assessment windows: there are fixed assessment windows post gateway, often 3 months – these rules need to be relaxed to allow a longer period to deliver all assessments.
Observations: this requires some expansion. Currently, it is required face to face and via an independent assessor – EITHER this assessment is dropped during the period and the remote professional discussion is extended to cover what would have been assessed through observation OR the observation is allowed to be undertaken by the employer (with the EPAO supplying the observation records required) making a record of assessment and moderated by the EPAO remotely or reviewed through the professional discussion.
Other asks the AELP is making of the government include:
Suspend funding bands consultation for six months – it is flawed, and we can’t put the work in to it with members that we were planning.
Stop ESFA audit
Suspend framework change for six months – those that were transitioning over the next few months don’t have a chance in hell of achieving this.
AEB and traineeship funding – removing the restrictions of whether funding is spent period 1–8 or 9–12.
Increased flexibility of funding and rules for those apprentices made redundant.
Traineeships – completing them or running them without employer placements as these are near impossible now.
Extend the non-levy contracts for another six months.
For those that have used up AEB – extra funding for on-line programmes for employees at home.
Removing the five per cent employer contribution for non-levy employers.