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NUS to give oral evidence on the Technical and Further Education Bill

Wednesday 16-11-2016 - 15:06

Tomorrow, The Technical and Further Education Bill Committee will hear oral evidence from the National Union of Students on Tuesday 22 November at 3:00pm. They will also hear oral evidence from the National Society of Apprentices at 09:35am.

Oral evidence sessions allow MPs to gain input from experts and key stakeholders. We will be calling on the Committee to ensure that learners concerns are taken seriously during the reforms to the FE sector. 

We will be asking them to:

  • Ensure that the newly expanded Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has guaranteed learner representation.
  • Balance the power of the Secretary of State by requiring them to consult on any changes to the 15 routes proposed in the Skills Plan.
  • Adequately protect the quality of a learners education if their instituion become insolvent.
  • Create legislative changes to improve careers information, advice and guidance.

You can read a more detailed briefing on the key issues of the bill here, as well as follow our evidence at the committee tomorrow at www.parliamentlive.tv/ .

Last Monday also saw the Second Reading of the Technical and Further Education Bill, where MPs debated the general principles of the Bill. The Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, opened the debate, speaking of the Bill as an importance vehicle for improving social mobility and increasing the quality and value of technical education pathways. She spoke of the need to address root causes of poor quality provision, such as weak employer engagement, poor training methods, low valued qualifications and institutions with uncertain finances.

The specific measures within the Bill will extend the role of the Institute of Apprenticeships to include technical education, put in place student protections and insolvency procedures for further education institutions, and ensure FE providers continue to submit relevant data to the Government when FE and skills becomes increasingly devolved.

As Shadow Secretary for State for Education, Angela Rayner responded with her views on the Bill, describing it as a missed opportunity and outlining the financial instability the sector faces following ‘dramatic’ government cuts. She urged the Government to use the Autumn Statement next week as an opportunity to reinvest money into the sector.

Tristram Hunt, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central and former shadow education secretary, spoke about his reservations regarding the Bill. In particular, he appealed to the House of Commons to aim for a consensus on committing to ending GCSEs by 2025, claiming that the qualifications have become redundant and should be replaced by a more creatively conceived 14-19 framework and a broadly constituted baccalaureate. He also emphasised the importance of effective careers guidance in making technical and vocational education work.

Others contributions covered concerns that the Government’s pledge for 3 million apprenticeships measures starts, not completions. Suggestions were raised of having a worker represented on the board of the Institute for Apprenticeships, along with points about the importance of educational paths that are a blend of vocational and academic education.

Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, made a speech focused on the importance of keeping FE local, with everyone – local authorities, educationists and employers – working together. He also noted that within his community, people would not travel outside of Dover for skills education if the local college was threatened with closure.

Justin Tomlinson, Conservative MP for North Swindon, spoke with a focus on opportunities for young disabled students, particularly regarding apprenticeships. He emphasised the low employment opportunities for young disabled people, and suggested that University Technical Colleges (UTCs) should have a lowered entry age of 11.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Robert Halfon closed the debate, addressing various points that had been made and summarising the key points of the Bill, highlighting the benefits of reforms to learners and employers, and to the financial health of the sector.

The Bill will now pass onto Committee Stage, where a Public Bill Committee will examine the Bill line-by-line. This process will begin next week. NUS will continue to influence the debates on this Bill to ensure it works in the best interest of students, apprentices and learners.

You can find the transcript for the debate here.

Watch live

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