Paul Kessell-Holland is programme manager for workforce planning and professional standards at the Education and Training Foundation

The Study Programme represents a sea change in the delivery of education in the 16-19 age range. It is a deceptively simple model, expecting education providers to deliver a meaningful personalised learning experience, and funding each learner on a straightforward financial basis. The programme has the potential to be a really positive and transformational offer for our learners but it also has the potential to be a huge challenge, which some providers have already fallen foul of, and which any provider could be caught out by.

The Education and Training Foundation has been working to support providers with this challenge for several months now and to ensure as many people can benefit from this as possible we will be providing a series of seminars, events and CPD that reaches across the sector, from Leaders and Governors to practitioners.

It all sounds so simple but, as is so often the case, the devil is in the detail and there is much detail to absorb. Two years on from the introduction of the individualised study programme many providers across the country are still struggling to get to grips with this change, and there have been some high profile difficulties for providers in delivering what is expected.

Our support has focussed on three principle areas:

  1. Modelling and processes,
  2. Work experience, and
  3. Teacher readiness.

When looking at the issues that providers are reporting (as well as what Ofsted were finding), it became clear rapidly that some of the challenges were structural, like how to re-focus M.I.S to better track learners undertaking more flexible programmes and how to deliver what used to be 'additionality' as part of a core programme (at the same time as adjusting to the GCSE retake expectation). While some of the challenges were individual, such as how to support learners in a more individualised fashion in both their curriculum choices and in further advice and guidance on how to deliver meaningful and career focussed work experience.

The Foundation has tried to meet as many of these critical challenges as possible through the strands of activity we have commissioned, and so far the sector would appear to agree that these were the right things to look at.

Details of the 3 Principle areas

Modelling and Process

The Modelling work has been led by a team of experts from across the sector and explores the key areas of difficulty for providers. If you come along to the dissemination event on 21st January you will have the option to hear for the first time the outcomes of feasibility studies into various models of delivery for the Study Programme, as well as discussions of the ways to manage MIS, audit and financial planning considerations. The findings of this work will be shared in a publication due soon, and following the dissemination on 21st there will be further opportunities to take part in seminars and CPD in the near future.

Teacher Readiness

The teacher readiness work is currently delivering CPD across the sector, with more opportunities being announced all the time (including the chance to hear from this team on the 21st Jan). The programme has carried out research into what the challenges really are for classroom practitioners faced with a new more modularised and personal curriculum, and has solutions for those who are new to teaching, teacher trainers and those who have been working across the sector for many years. This work has brought the most recent thinking and approaches to the teaching staff we have trained, with positive feedback from a wide range of providers to date.

Work Experience

Our work experience strand has been active for the past few months delivering training workshops across the sector, with some remarkable results. It is a genuine challenge, focussing on individual learner's needs in relation to work experience, whilst also managing to even source sufficient opportunities for learners to go on any form of work experience at all. With a key focus on harder to support groups of learners, as well as more general support advice and training on work experience delivery, the CPD we have been offering seeks to inspire staff to know what they are looking to achieve, why it is so important for the learners, and how to match this with the demands of a curriculum and funding regime that has very specific needs.

Paul Kessell-Holland is programme manager for workforce planning and professional standards at the Education and Training Foundation

Further information on study programmes:

The conference is on 21 January 2016 and at the Institute of Education, London (20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL). This is a subsidised event and as such the delegate cost is just £100, great value for what is on offer. If you are trying to plan for next year and understand how you may be able to improve things – whether tinkering round the edges or a wholesale change to your systems and delivery – you attend the dissemination event. If you are concerned about meeting inspection and audit requirement for this complex and key part of your delivery, this is probably the most helpful day you could spend this year.

All opportunities are booking now at:

Full details of the day's activities, including speakers, can be found on the AELP events page.

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