Another area that is expected to experience significant pressures in the coming years is further education (FE). Demand for FE provision is expected to rise due to previous demand in primary and secondary pupils moving through the system. This is particularly significant in light of the introduction of Raising the Participation Age, which legislates that all young people must remain in education or training until the age of 18 and requires local authorities to ensure that there is sufficient provision to meet demand.
The government is placing considerable emphasis on technical education as fundamental to ensuring that young people are equipped with the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace. The government’s acknowledgement of the importance of technical education is welcome, but the wave of recent and upcoming reforms will place significant capital requirements on FE institutions which will need to be fully met by the DfE to ensure that providers continue to deliver high quality technical education that meets demand.
Education post-16 is more varied than the school system for children up to the age of 16. At the end of year 11, young people can choose whether to attend a school, a general further education college, a sixth-form college, a training provider or start an Apprenticeship. FE providers also establish their own entry requirements and policies, which can affect the choices available to young people across the different institutions.
It will be important to understand the effect of recent and upcoming policy developments, such as the structure of A levels and the changes to GCSE examinations and grading, on admissions policies and the options that are made available to pupils across the FE sector. This is because changes to admissions policies and young people’s decisions about which type of setting to attend affect patterns of supply and demand in the sector. Local authorities need to be equipped to respond to these changing patterns in order to ensure that they deliver on their duty to provide sufficient places to meet demand.
Further education college
or other FE provider
School sixth form
- state funded
Currently, the FE system lacks a body with overall oversight and responsibility. While councils have some controls over the funding for schools, they have no power or levers over private FE providers, which receive funding directly from central government.
The way forward
London Councils believes that 16 to 18 provision should be devolved to London local government and greater control should be given to the capital over policy and commissioning. The Adult Education Budget (AEB) is due to be devolved to the Mayor of London by 2019/20 and FE capital funding is devolved to London and overseen by its Local Economic Partnership. Devolution of 16 to 18 provision will allow London to take a much needed whole-systems approach that can reflect London’s progression and economic priorities. Local government should have the funding and levers to support both schools and private FE institutions to ensure that young people can undertake their chosen course and that schools and colleges have appropriate funding to deliver high quality education and training.
London local government should also be given control over all vocational capital investment, including 14-19 capital provision and Institutes for Technology, alongside existing FE capital responsibilities. London government should be part of the decision-making process for the number and location of university technical colleges, technical free schools and Institutes of Technology. These two reforms would enable a more strategic, co-ordinated approach to investment.
London Councils believes that it is vital for the government to work closely with local authorities and providers to ensure that the full impacts of changes to the level and nature of demand are fully understood. The DfE needs to meet costs incurred by schools and colleges as a result of RPA and reforms to technical education and ensure that providers are fully funded to offer an appropriate and varied range of provision for all young people.
- Invest in the FE sector to ensure that the costs of meeting future demand for provision are fully met, including covering the capital costs of delivering provision supporting technical pathways and apprenticeships
- Devolve 16 to 18 provision and vocational capital investment to London local government in order to ensure consistent and appropriate delivery of FE across all provider types