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In the News

Revealed: How to get the DfE Institute of Technology kite-mark

After more than two years and three Skills Ministers since the Institutes of Technology (IoT) concept was announced, FE Week can exclusively reveal the “process and timeline” ahead of their launch in 2019.  Institutes of Technology were first muted in the Productivity Plan in July 2015 , which said: “The government anticipates that many colleges will be invited to specialise according to local economic priorities, to provide better targeted basic skills alongside professional and technical education, and that some will be invited to become Institutes of Technology.” In documents seen by FE Week that have been “agreed by ministers” and were due for publication this week, the DfE sets out details of the IoT invitation process. The DfE will be calling on those that “would like to register an interest in the IoT initiative” to complete a short form and email it back to institute.technology@education.gov.uk by the 31 October 2017. Despite the DfE repeatedly saying the plan is to “establish high quality and prestigious institutions”, in truth and as previously reported by FE Week, the IoT funding is in fact a relatively small three year wave of capital funding for mainly existing colleges, not to create new ones. The “successful bidders will receive...

Top civil servant announced as new apprenticeships boss

A civil servant who led the Department for Education’s response to the Grenfell Tower blaze has been appointed as its new director for apprenticeships. Rory Kennedy has taken the reins from David Hill, and is now responsible for the whole apprenticeships programme, as well as a number of other important policy areas including the levy, the target for three million apprenticeships starts by 2020, and the work of the Institute for Apprenticeships. Mr Hill, who was appointed in October 2015, left the role in July and was replaced on an interim basis by Carl Creswell, the DfE’s deputy director of apprenticeships. He then left the position himself earlier this month to become director for better regulation at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Mr Kennedy’s start date has not yet been confirmed but it is “expected to be some time from mid-October onwards”, according to an email from the DfE. He has already been working with the DfE: after finishing a year on secondment to Haringey council as assistant director for schools and learning, he has led the department’s response to the Grenfell tragedy since July. According to his LinkedIn page, Mr Kennedy has been a policy manager...

Massive £1bn FE loans underspend revealed

A massive 58 per cent of FE loans funding – amounting to almost £1 billion – has not been spent since 2013, FE Week can reveal. This shocking figure, revealed by a Freedom of Information request, has been branded a “systemic failure” that could unravel the government’s plans to upskill the nation in a post-Brexit world. The Student Loans Company, which processes advanced learner loans on behalf of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, revealed that just £652 million in loan-funded provision had actually been delivered since 2013, against a massive £1.56 billion in allocations. There has also been a near-40-per-cent fall in the numbers of level three and four learners since the loans were introduced, sparking dire warnings across the sector. Gordon Marsden described the figures as “extremely concerning” and claimed they indicate “a systemic failure in the Department for Education and the ESFA in delivering this policy”. “The general message that this is sending out to adult learners and people wanting to reskill makes a mockery of the government’s alleged commitment to promoting adult skills and learning,” said the shadow skills minister. “We are going to need the contribution of older people reskilling to keep our economy afloat,”...

New RoATP window opens on Monday

The register of apprenticeship training providers will open for a third time starting on Monday, FE Week can reveal, and the window will last for one month. An email from the Department for Education said applications would “reopen for applications on Monday, 25 September”. “This reopening will close on Friday, 27 October,” it continued. “This opening is open to all organisations, including those organisations that have not previously been successful. “If you have already been successful in your application to the RoATP, you do not need to reapply as this opening is not a refresh.” This is the third time the register has opened for applications. The first window ran for a month in November 2016, while the second window opened in March – just days after the first register was published. That first register prompted shock across the sector as many established providers – including all of Birmingham’s general FE colleges – failed to make it on, while large numbers of new, untested providers were successful. Although many of those who failed first time around made it onto the second register, published in May, a number of one-man bands also made it on – including one provider with no previous...