David Redden, Product Manager at NCFE

While the economic impact of Covid-19 has been felt acutely across the globe, research carried out by organisations such as the Resolution Foundation has demonstrated that it is our young people who will suffer most during the downturn, as employers cut jobs and apprenticeships in a bid to save money.

The domino-effect of this employment shortfall, as documented in the recent research paper published by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), is that come September, we will see an unprecedented rise in the number of 16-17 year old school leavers seeking to remain in full-time education. It is anticipated that somewhere in the region of 123,000 learners, who would usually seek employment, may instead pursue post-16 education in the form of vocational and technical training.

Creating space within the sector to support these young people is critical to tackling the rise in youth unemployment. However, it does present challenges for centres, especially when the analysis by EPI suggests that two-thirds of the learners looking to continue their studies will not have passed their English and maths GCSEs.

Studying towards a level 2 qualification in in English and maths is a mandatory requirement for all 16-17 year olds who enrol on full time study programmes, which means that if these young people did choose to stay within the education system, most would be required to continue to study these subjects.

The EPI report states that: “in a typical year, around 100,000 16-18 year olds would study towards an English resit qualification, and nearly 150,000 would study towards a maths resit qualification. However, following a surge in numbers, in the most extreme case, there could be an additional 119,000 16- or 17-year olds required to continue with these subjects next year. Even if only half of those in other routes returned to education, this could still mean there would be nearly 60,000 extra students.”

Given the pressure placed on FE colleges already, with the additional strain of GCSE resits too, these additional numbers could represent a significant challenge to their already stretched resources. These challenges include:

  • recruiting more English and maths specialist teachers
  • creating a programme that can overcome the barriers of disengaged learners
  • sitting large numbers of learners for exams whilst ensuring social distancing requirements are met
  • learners already behind on their learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic facing the prospect of timetable changes, and reduction of learning hours, to meet the demands of exams.

Through our #FullyFunctional campaign, NCFE has highlighted that the rate of learners achieving a pass for the resit cohort are very low (22.3% for maths, 31.9% for English). If these achievement rates fall any further due to the challenges around centres delivering to a larger cohort and without adequate resources, there is a risk that we are setting learners up to fail.

Given the falling pass mark for GCSEs, particularly in mathematics where learners achieving a Grade 4 on a higher tier paper was only 18% in some cases, is there a need to protect the integrity of the GCSE quality standard? Allowing FE colleges the flexibility to manage their resources and make the right choices for their learners is going to be paramount for the next academic session, which is why we have welcomed this timely report from the EPI.

The profound impact of the coronavirus outbreak has dictated major changes in how we live and work, but it has also presented us with the opportunity to drive change where change is needed.

In the world of education, lockdown rules have enabled teachers to engage learners in new and increasingly innovative ways that move away from the traditional approach to teaching, and place a heavier emphasis on self-motivated learning. We have also seen policy decisions taken, such as removing the need for Level 2 apprentices to attempt a Level 2 Functional Skills qualification once they have completed Level 1.

At NCFE, we are dedicated to promoting and advancing learning to help improve life chances and increase social mobility which is why, in the spirit of these new-found freedoms, we feel that now is the perfect time to revise those policies which, although well-intentioned, may discourage learners from pursuing qualifications to help them reach their full potential.

David Redden, Product Manager at NCFE

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Cathy Pearson🦓💙 had a status update on Twitter 2 hours 55 minutes ago

@drjanaway I'm just so glad you can be there for that patient: they are lucky to have you. Sending cyber coffee and good biscuits!
View Original Tweet

AELP Webinar Team added a new event 17 hours

Recognising and supporting learners who are at risk of, or...

Overview This webinar is intended to explain the nature of harm and abuse caused to learners who may be at risk of, or have experienced sexual...

  • Wednesday, 06 October 2021 10:00 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 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