Change seems inevitable in our sector, however, we need to keep on top of it or we could easily be left behind, or worse, without a job. Our sector is becoming increasingly commercialised, therefore we need to make sure we are aware of what’s happening, and that we are skilled and knowledgeable to deal with the changes.

This article will explore some of the recent changes and developments in the FE and skills sector (in no particular order). Whilst it will give you an overview, there are lots of weblinks included to enable you to research further.

The QCF to the RQF

More acronyms for us to remember! The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) came to an end last September. It was replaced with the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). Until individual QCF qualifications reach the end of their lifetime (usually five years) they are still being offered, and the credit values still apply. Under the RQF, awarding organisations have the freedom to design their own qualifications and call them what they like. So, the Award, Certificate and Diploma titles might change.

Credit values have gone, however, all qualifications on the RQF have a size which is expressed in terms of total qualification time (TQT). TQT can still be thought of as credits i.e. one credit equals 10 hours of learning (just like the QCF). This learning time can be contact time with a tutor or assessor and non-contact time for assignments and studies. You can find out more about TQT by clicking here

All qualifications on the RQF must be underpinned by a validity strategy that will show how they provide value for learners and employers. The 2014 Ofqual General Conditions of Recognition were updated in September 2015. These conditions are used by awarding organisations for designing qualifications, and quality assuring the centres who deliver and assess them. If you work in a centre, you might wish to take a look.

Guidance regarding the General Conditions can be accessed by clicking here.

You can view a short video Introducing the Regulated Qualifications Framework below:  

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The Post 16 Skills Plan and the Sainsbury Report

The Department for Education (DfE) which now covers early years, schools and further and higher education and skills, want to improve levels of achievement to maximise the chance of all young people to reach their potential. They are introducing academic and technical options to enable learners to access a recognised occupation and/or to progress further.

You can find out more by accessing The Post-16 Skills Plan (2016)

Over 20,000 courses will be replaced with 15 high quality routes (listed on pages 22/23 of the above Plan. 

Lord Sainsbury’s Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education recommends each route has a common core which will include English, maths and digital skills, as well as a “specialisation towards a skilled occupation or set of occupations.”

Ann Gravells and Hilary ReadChanges to Apprenticeships

Hilary Read will explore these in a future FE News article.

Myself and Hilary will be delivering an event about the apprenticeship changes in Newcastle on 14th October.

Please click here for details.

If you’ve attended a different CPD event with us in the past, please contact us for a 20% off discount code.

The Common Inspection Framework

This was introduced last year and all types of provision are taken into account under one framework. This includes:maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools, further education and skills provision, and registered early years settings in England. The emphasis is upon impact on learners, not process or provision, and Ofsted will look at how session plans relate to individual learning plans.

There is no grading of lesson observations, although organisations can decide if they still want to use their own grading system for in-house observations.

Ofsted will state whether safeguarding is effective (this includes Prevent Duty – lots of resources are available by clicking here and going to the ETF website).

British values will also be looked at. This includes: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect, tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs. Taken from Prevent Strategy, Home Office, June 2011.

Equality and diversity will permeate four key judgements:

  • Effectiveness of leadership and management
  • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment (under review)
  • Personal development, behaviour and welfare (PDBW)
  • Outcomes for children and learners.

You can find a copy of the Inspection Framework by clicking here.

You can view a short video by clicking here.

Area Reviews

These are taking place as part of the Government’s policy statement: Reviewing post-16 education and training institutions (July 2015) in England.

The reviews are designed to achieve a transition towards fewer, larger, more resilient and efficient providers, and more effective collaboration across institution types. A critical aspect will be to create greater specialisation, with the establishment of institutions that are genuine centres of expertise, able to support sustained progression in professional and technical disciplines, alongside excellence in other fundamental areas, such as English and maths.

Colleges that are in debt have already merged and many more will be under pressure to do so because of cuts to funding. Private training providers are not included in the review.

You can find a copy of the review by clicking here.

You can view a short video about the reviews by


Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers

Ann Gravells ETF pie chartIn 2014, the Education and Training Foundation introduced a set of 20 Standards. These replaced the previous LLUK Standards which contained over 150. As it is no longer a requirement for staff (in England) to hold a teaching qualification, the Standards can be used as a reference point, and something to aspire to.

However, most organisations will want their staff to hold a relevant teaching qualification, as well as a subject specific qualification. It is no longer a requirement to hold QTLS status (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills) or to maintain CPD (continuing professional development). However, if you are a member of the Society for Education and Training, you may have to declare your CPD annually.

The Standards include:

  • Professional values and attributes - 6 standards aimed at developing judgement of what works and does not work in teaching and training
  • Professional knowledge and understanding - 6 standards aimed at developing deep and critically informed knowledge and understanding in theory and practice
  • Professional skills - 8 standards aimed at developing expertise and skills to ensure the best outcomes for learners.

You can find a copy of the Standards by clicking here.

You can view a short video by clicking here.


Ann Gravells FELTAG imageThis stands for the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group and they produced a report in 2014 which recommended more use of technology in teaching and learning. Teachers should also keep abreast of changes and empower their learners to use technology.

You can find a copy of the Report by clicking here.

You can view a short video by Bob Harrison below: 

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Functional Skills

These are again going through a review in England, carried out by the Education and Training Foundation. Check their website for updates.

Keeping up to date

If you’ve managed to read to the end of this article – well done!  Hopefully you are now a little more updated which what’s currently taking place. I’m sure there will be more changes in the future, therefore you do need to keep finding out what’s happening. However, it’s not just about finding things out, it’s about acting on what affects your role, and the impact it will have on your learners.

Ann Gravells is an author, creator of teacher training resources and an education consultant.

You can follow Ann on Twitter @AnnGravells  and other social media.

There are lots of useful weblinks at the end of this link:  just scroll down the page. You can sign up to most of them for regular e-mail updates.

Ann and Hilary Read deliver events nationwide to help you keep up to date. Current events are listed here.

You can contact Ann and Hilary via their websites, for example, if you would like them to deliver a bespoke CPD event at your organisation.

Ann Gravells’ website:

Hilary Read’s website:

Copyright Ann Gravells 2016      

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