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In the News

ESFA ‘postpone’ results of second attempt at non-levy apprenticeship tender due to ‘high volume’ of applications

After extended delays and ultimately an aborted first attempted at a tender for funding apprenticeships with small employers (non-levy), the second attempt by the Education and Skills Funding Agency has been ‘postponed’. This evening the ESFA told providers more time was needed to evaluate a ‘high volume’ of applications and was unable to say when the results of the £650m tender round would be known. The full message sent tonight via the tendering website reads: “The Agency has been pleased to receive a high volume of tenders following a very positive response to the Invitation to Tender for this procurement, and is currently finalising the evaluation process. “In accordance with paragraph 8.2 of the Invitation to Tender (Attachment 1), the Agency is making a change to the procurement timetable as set out in paragraph 8.1 (Attachment 1). The intention to issue award notifications to successful and unsuccessful Potential Providers is postponed, and will not now be issued on 21 November 2017. “Potential Providers will be contacted again shortly with further information on the new date for the issue of award notifications.” The postponement will be frustrating but may not come as a surprise, as tender process was controversial for it’s...

Skills Show 2017: Welcome home Team UK

A welcome home reception was put on for the 34 heroes who made up Team UK and competed in Abu Dhabi last month, on day two of The Skills Show. Hundreds of visitors and VIPs headed to the spotlight stage at Birmingham’s NEC Arena to celebrate and welcome back the team (pictured above) who retained our country’s top 10 position at WorldSkills this year, winning one gold, three silvers, three bronzes, and 13 medallions of excellence. The event, which was hosted by Will Torrent, a former Team UK member who this week celebrated his 10-year anniversary since competing in Japan, included heartfelt speeches from WorldSkills UK’s official delegate and chief executive of the ESFA, Peter Lauener, and chair of WorldSkills UK Carole Stott. “Today we have some really important people to celebrate,” Mr Lauener said. “I had the great privilege of being out in Abu Dhabi where we experienced a combination of high emotion, real pride in the team’s achievements, and a lot of pleasure just seeing how much everyone can achieve with a lot of team work.” The welcome home reception was also used to recognise several individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty when...

Ofsted Watch: New leadership praised at improved college

Ofsted has commended the new leadership team at a London college as it moves up to be rated ‘good’ while the grades of other providers fell. Richmond-upon-Thames College climbed from grade three to grade two in a report published on November 17 which congratulated the new principal, senior management team and governors for their success in “rapidly” improving student outcomes. The report said staff had “carefully redesigned” the curriculum to suit the needs of the community, and “share a determination to improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, which is now good”. The college, which offers both academic and vocational courses, was inspected on October 10 and inspectors found students were well-behaved with “high aspirations”, and that “experienced staff” were developing the confidence and independence of high needs learners “very well”. However, other colleges faced difficulties this week. Bradford College fell from a grade two to a grade three when Ofsted published its report on November 14, and was hit with a financial health notice to improve from the Education and Skills Funding Agency the next day. The college later confirmed its group chief executive, Andy Welsh, would be standing down at the end of this academic year. And...

The new prime providers who struck gold in the first AEB tender

There were many winners to emerge from the AEB procurement, including two new prime providers which each received more than £1 million. Top of the list of first-time primes is London-based Free to Learn, which has £2 million for November to July next year. Its chief commercial officer was bullish about the company’s ability to deliver as a lead contractor. “Free to Learn is a pioneering organisation that’s focused on providing high quality and worthwhile, vocational training to individuals throughout the country in order to make a difference and change people’s lives,” said Andrew Hibbitt. “Although we have not held a direct contract for AEB previously, we have vast experience and a proven track record in delivering in excess of £10 million per annum as a subcontractor and are an organisation that is learner centred and passionate about quality.” The firm was listed over the summer by the Education and Skills Funding Agency as subcontracting with 12 primes, including Barnet and Southgate College, Eastleigh College, and the FA Premier League, for contracts worth more than £8 million in total. The company only has one director, listed on Companies House as Gabiele Gherscovic. Jason Holt, the author of a 2012 government-commissioned...