John Gray is Director of Further Education for Emsi

With the start of the new academic year now in full swing, colleges up and down the country will already be turning their attention to planning their curriculum for the start of the next academic year in September 2020.

There is, however, an added dimension with the introduction of Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework, which sets out how inspectors will be grading colleges on a number of issues, but with three basic criteria in mind:

  1. Intent
  2. Implementation, and
  3. Impact.

Underpinning these three “i”s, is that issue of Intent, especially in relation to curriculum, and the big question Ofsted are essentially asking is this:

"Are college leaders able to show that their curriculum has been planned and developed with a real intent to give learners the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life?"

But what does this actually mean?

At its core, the idea of “Curriculum Intent” is about making sure that the courses run by a college meet the needs of the local economy, so that they can have a real impact on the lives of the students learning the knowledge to fill the identified skills gaps, the employers who benefit from that supply of skills, and ultimately the local and regional economy and community.

For example, here is what the Framework says inspectors will be looking for:

“The curriculum offers learners the knowledge and skills that reflect the needs of the local and regional context … The curriculum intent takes into account the needs of learners, employers, and the local, regional and national economy, as necessary.”

In a sense this is really just spelling out the overarching mission of the Further Education sector, which is all about giving people the knowledge and skills they need to have successful and rewarding careers that benefit not only them, but also their employers and the local community. But how can colleges ensure they are doing this; that they are heading in the right direction; and that they can articulate this to Ofsted?

Data is an integral element in answering this

To put it negatively first, without using good Labour Market Insight (LMI), alongside talking to local employers and stakeholders, planning a curriculum that is intentional in terms of meeting local skills needs is bound to be extremely difficult. Doing it to the satisfaction of Ofsted may well be impossible.

More positively, by embracing the use of detailed local LMI, colleges can begin by getting a good baseline of where they’re at in terms of currently serving local skills needs, and also a much clearer idea of what they need to do to improve. What the data does, therefore, is to help curriculum managers get a much better sense of the areas and the levels where there is need for realignment.


In terms of the practicalities of this, it is important that colleges use a good mix of structured, trend based LMI, alongside real-time Job Postings Analytics. What the structured data allows a college to do, is to drill down into very specific industries, occupations and locations, in order to get a sense of growth over the past few years, and projections into the future. This can then be augmented by rich Job Posting Analytics, in order to build up an even better understanding of what’s going on in the local economy right now, in terms of what employers are looking for, which is critical to ensuring that colleges can build in those skills and knowledge needs into their curriculum.

Mapping provision against local economic demand

Additionally, data allows the possibility for a college to map its provision against local economic demand, and by so doing to establish which course areas the college is currently under or over supplying in, and therefore where realignment is necessary.

It could be easy to look at the Inspection Framework as something of a tickbox exercise, with LMI being used in a fairly narrow way in order to meet the requirements of the inspectors. This approach, however, would be to miss the point, both of what Ofsted are looking for in Curriculum Intent, and in the fantastic opportunities that good use of data can actually bring.

We have a number of customers who have really embedded LMI into the heart of their college, and into the heart of their curriculum, and where this has been done, you can really start to see it shaping a curriculum that is much better geared to:

  • Helping learners get onto sustainable career paths;
  • Enabling employers to get the right people with the right skills; and
  • Ultimately benefitting the local community as skills supply comes together to meet skills demand.

This is why both Curriculum Intent and data are really very exciting. I bet you never thought you’d read a sentence like that!

John Gray is Director of Further Education for Emsi, the Labour Market Insight specialists.

Emsi is running a free webinar series - Using LMI for Ambitious Curriculum Intent and Impact - which you can find out more about here.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Newsroom Activity

Kerry Boffey added a new event 2 hours

Self-Assessment, validating your provision.

Join Peter Stacey for this informative and engaging session, Self -assessment, the process the accuracy of judgement, clear validation through to...

  • Friday, 11 September 2020 10:30 AM
  • On-line. Longdon on Tern

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.


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