Tony Allen, CEO, Allen Apprenticeships and Skills

So, Learndirect have failed in their attempt to avoid ‘justice’, and now what many of us have known for some time is out in the public domain: their provision is officially ‘Inadequate’. The ESFA have given them until July next year to finish learners before it withdraws funding. On the face of it, this is a travesty for the reputation of the Apprenticeship brand, that the Oftsed grade only applies to part of the Learndirect business.

The newly created Learndirect Apprenticeships is not affected by the ruling. So for those levy paying employers who have signed up with Learndirect, it can be business as usual! Perhaps the senior team at LD saw the bad inspection coming, and split the business?! However, Ofsted can always decide to inspect a provider at any time, even ‘new’ ones, so perhaps they will not be fooled by this blatant attempt to avoid a proper outcome.learndirect100x100

Whatever the rationale, I believe that Learndirect need to look carefully in the mirror as to why they are now officially ‘Inadequate’. However, are they solely to blame for their predicament? Could it be that the ESFA have a case to answer as to why they let the UK’s largest private provider get into this position?

Just before I left the then SFA, part of my team who managed the largest 40 private providers was disbanded. In total, the team of six people managed contracts worth £630m. We guided and supported providers through such quagmires as inspections, audits, growth requests, and encouraged them to enrol more apprentices. They knew that we were ‘keeping an eye on them’, but hopefully they considered it a positive experience. We were successful….81% of our provision was Ofsted ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ and the growth in apprenticeships from those 40 providers was double that of the rest of the college and provider base. It was effective contract management, which protected the public purse, managed the risk and ensured focus on government priorities.

Then, as part of the staffing reductions of two years ago, the SFA decided that we were no longer needed. It was made clear to me that this type of contract management was not part of a ‘funding body’s’ role. No-one seemed interested in managing the risk, or in promoting apprenticeship growth The focus seemed to change over-night from being concerned as to how public money was being utilised, to frankly, appeasing Minister’s desires to cut staffing levels.

Advertisement

I pointed out to the senior team the implications of what they were doing, but it seemed like there was no agenda other than reducing the number of staff at the SFA.

Now you might think that this is a classic case of sour grapes on my part, and you could argue that it is not role of government to closely monitor providers in the way that we did. I would disagree with both assertions!

There is a correlation between how the then SFA managed private providers and the outcomes that we were trying to achieve. I have already said that we were successful as a team, and look at what has happened since! In the two and a half years that the team existed, none of the 40 providers failed and none had inadequate inspections. Since the team was disbanded, we have seen the demise of Positive Outcomes and First4Skills and serious problems at Learndirect. All were formerly in the top 40 group.

If the ESFA still had a team in place managing providers as effectively as we did would they have prevented these problems?

I am certainly not saying that. However, my point is that they would have had their finger much more closely on the pulse, and would have been aware much earlier of the problems that the particular large providers were facing..

Whilst the ESFA have some ‘light-touch’ provider management in place now, I believe that they should reflect on the last year, and think about the depth of their knowledge of the key providers.

In my view ESFA need to share some of the responsibility for what has happened, and not just with Learndirect. Can you think of anywhere else in the public sector where a contractor with over £100m per year of government funding would effectively just be allowed to ‘get on with it’? As a tax payer, I hope not!

Tony Allen, CEO, Allen Apprenticeships and Skills

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Newsroom Activity

Chris JENNINGS has published a new article: From homeless teenager to homeless centre manager 2 hours 49 minutes ago
Jo Moriani added a new event 4 hours

How learning providers can support victims and survivors...

Overview The aim of this course is to raise awareness of the impact abusive relationships can have, the challenges in speaking out and the impact...

  • Wednesday, 26 August 2020 10:30 AM
  • Online

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 May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 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.

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.

Podcasts

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.

Events

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