Steve Hewitt is an FE Associates MIS and Funding Consultant

The eye of a hurricane is famously calm - an eerie normality before inevitable chaos. And so it is, currently, with funding for curriculum planning.

But there are still things you should do.

For years now we’ve been battered by cuts coming at us from all directions. But as we move to planning for 2017/18 it’s all looking a little more tranquil.

We know the Education Funding Agency funding rate for learners will stay at its current rate. We can see the 5 per cent tolerance for the Maths and English Condition of Funding will remain when calculating our lagged funding.

Providing we hit our targets in the current year there’s no planned reduction to Skills Funding Agency classroom-based funding - and we’ve just had it confirmed that the formula funded matrix isn’t changing.

This calm is welcome but not surprising, given the funders’ focus on developing a new apprenticeship funding model. And it’s a nice time to breathe it all in, because industry-wide change is coming in 2019/20 with the planned introduction of the 15 Core Vocational Routes.

Use this brief period of certainty as an opportunity to focus on improving our target setting and ensuring the provision we offer in the classroom is the most appropriate.

So while the sun is shining, let me share with you four ways you can tighten the ropes and mend your roof:

1. Local factors and the 16-18 demographics

We know we’re not quite at the bottom of the dip in the birth rate which has led to fewer 16-year-olds.

Nationally, numbers don’t start increasing until 2018/19, although there are local variations which you can investigate with this interesting tool.

It’s also worth discussing with your Local Authority how many Year 11s they think are in the system. If you collect data on which school your 16-year-olds come from you can build up intelligence on what an average year would look like - and pick out which schools it might be worth you working more closely with.

If your main feeder schools have any significant drops in Year 11 numbers, this could have a major impact on you if you aren’t ready for it.

2. Qualifications

We know The Sainsbury Review will have a major impact with the new 15 lines of learning, but clearly there’s a way to go until we know what they’ll look like. The learners who start this September will be long gone before any of these recommendations become reality. So maybe this is the time to concentrate on what you do well rather than branching out into new and unknown areas, given they may have to be completely re-thought in three years’ time?

3. Maths and English

The Condition of Funding doesn’t seem to be going away or changing any time soon and we know it’s (rightly) a major concern for Ofsted, despite rising concerns about its implementation. My colleague Edd Brown offered some great strategies for improving what’s happening in your organisation, if you don’t think you’ve got it right yet.

4. Target Setting

Too often target setting can become a game to make numbers on a spreadsheet add up to the answer you’ve already asked it to reach. Realistic, evidence-based target setting requires discipline as it doesn’t allow for optimism.

When you know the Certificate in Underwater Basket Weaving has only attracted 14 learners in each of the last three years there’s really no justification in setting a target of 20 - even if you’ve recently updated to the latest snorkel technology.

Senior managers need to be tough, and trend data is the key to help you challenge to the more unrealistic plans.

Storm analogies aside, there’s never been a year - in the fifteen I’ve been planning courses - that I’ve not been left feeling at least slightly overwhelmed. There’s always too much to do, and too little time. But it’s probably the most important thing to spend time on. Hopefully I’ve given you some thoughts to feed into your planning process - good luck!

Steve Hewitt is an FE Associates MIS and Funding Consultant and is available to support colleges and providers in interim leadership roles and with consultancy projects.

You may also be interested in these articles:

End to end learner journeys – from initial to end-point assessments - #FutureOfAssessment Episode 4

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page