Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

The next step in the government’s drive to boost the quality of post-16 qualifications has been announced today (23 October) by Education Secretary @GavinWilliamson. 

  • Detailed measures announced to ensure all post-16 qualifications are fit for purpose and lead to good outcomes for every student
  • New measures will boost the quality of and streamline qualifications so students and employers get the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow
  • Plans will build on the work already underway to transform technical and vocational education and help the country build back better from coronavirus

Last year the government announced plans to remove funding from qualifications that overlap with T levels and A levels, and only fund qualifications at level 3 and below that are high quality and lead to good outcomes for students.

Today the Education Secretary has confirmed that he is pressing ahead with these vital reforms, setting out detailed measures that will make sure all students no matter where they live and whatever course they choose can be confident it will set them on the path to success.

The new measures, which are subject to a 12 week consultation process, include:

  • Putting employers at the heart of designing and developing all level 3 technical qualifications - this is already happening with apprenticeships, T Levels and new higher technical qualifications, but the government is going furtherso students and employers can be sure they are gaining the skills they need to thrive
  • Removing funding for qualifications that overlap with A levels and T Levels - simplifying choices for young people - while offering funding for high-quality alternatives to A levels, that support students to progress onto specialist Higher Education courses, such as performing arts and sports
  • Ensuring only qualifications that meet a high-quality bar and help students progress into work or further study are approved for funding
  • Making more qualifications available to adults including new T Levels so more people can upskill or retrain

Gavin Williamson 100x100Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“Now more than everwe must redouble our efforts to support as many people as possible to access high quality education and training, so they can get ahead and so employers can tap into the talented workforce they need as we build back better from coronavirus.

“The measures we have announced today will ensure that whether a student opts to study A levels, a T Level or any other qualification,  they can be confident that it will be high quality and will set them on a clear path to a job, further education or training.”

tom bewick 100x100Tom Bewick, CEO, Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB), said:

“There is a lot of detail to work through as part of this consultation. We have always said that qualifications are not set in aspic. Awarding organisations work with employers and educationalists all the time to make sure that what we offer is fit for purpose. We’re always open to discontinuing old qualifications that have become obsolete, just as we need to develop new regulated courses to meet the demands of automation and the increasing digitisation of our economy. 

“The really disappointing thing about this announcement is yet again it is Whitehall saying that it knows best. Ministers believe they are better placed to second guess the labour market and occupational career pathways than employers, learners and local communities. We will of course work with the government constructively. But the big lesson from the exams fiasco of the summer is that a top-down engineered view of qualifications and what is best for learners rarely corresponds with what is actually happening or needed on the ground.”

david hughes 100 x100The consultation document published today by the Department for Education takes forward the government’s proposals for Level 3 qualifications for young people and adults. Responding to the Review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 in England: Second Stage AoC's Chief Executive, David Hughes said:

“It’s clear from today’s detailed document that the DfE has listened to the concerns we raised in the first consultation. We have worked constructively with officials and I think they have shown in this document that they understand the complexities in this and want, like us, to move on from the headline that there are ‘simply too many qualifications’. The proposals will need time to consider fully, but our initial reaction is that the proposals are proportionate and helpful. We fully support the need to make things simpler, but we also want to make sure that they work well and that is sometimes a difficult balance to get right. We will consult our members, work with officials and respond fully when we have had time to consider the full proposals and the implications.”

John Williams, executive chef at the Ritz London, and vice chair of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, said:

“The sheer number of qualifications out there at level 3 and below for catering can be overwhelming.

"It’s hard for many employers, who obviously want to focus on the job at hand, to be confident about which ones are up to the high standards we all expect. And of course, it’s really hard for learners to choose which qualification is likely to be right for them. 

"Government moves to rationalise that and raise quality will be a huge help.”

Dr Graham, Honeyman, Head of International Business Development at Sheffield Forgemasters, said:

“There needs to be a substantial reduction in the number of options available for students to take up further education at level 3 and below. Not only is the situation confusing for students but also for employers and training providers.

"The government is entirely right to consider rationalisation of a number of courses and retain those of the highest quality. Progression from one qualification to another with a clear pathway from entry levels to higher levels would be desirable.”

Paul Edmonds, international and BAFTA hairstylist to film and TV, said:

“The review of level 3 and below qualifications is, I believe, a real positive for both learners and employers. In the hair and beauty industry for example, though there aren’t that many recognised qualifications within hairdressing, there are many in beauty.

“This really makes it hard as an employer to know what quality and standard the qualifications are. Elevating and standardising them will make it so much easier for me as an employer to recognise fewer qualifications and give us a clearer and more focused framework to work from. Learners also will have a clear direction of what route they can take to get into their chosen career, with greater transparency towards the detail of the qualification. 

“We should be putting the needs of both learners and businesses at the forefront of these qualifications, giving a firm foundation to make all our industries dynamic into an ever changing future.”

A confusing landscape

Analysis published by the Department for Education has highlighted a confusing landscape of over 12,000 courses on offer to young people at level 3 and below, with multiple qualifications in the same subject areas available - many of which are poor quality and offer little value to students or employers.

As part of the work to boost access to high-quality level 3 qualifications, in July 2019 the government took immediate steps to:

  • remove funding for more than 160 duplicate qualifications from August 2020, ensuring that students take the newer, more rigorous versions
  • stop any new qualification at level 3 and below from getting approval for funding from 2020, to avoid adding to the already confusing and complicated system of over 12,000 qualifications already available at these levels.

This action builds on the work already underway to transform technical and vocational education, including the roll out of new T Levels, working with employers to create more high quality apprenticeship opportunities,  establishing a system of higher technical education and a network of Institutes of Technology, backed by up to £290 million.

This autumn the Education Secretary will publish a White Paper setting out plans to build a world-class further education system - one that unlocks potential, levels up skills and boosts opportunities for people across the country.

A major review of qualifications at Level 3 and below, including Applied General Qualifications, Tech Levels and Technical Certificates, but excluding A levels, T Levels and GCSEs was launched on 19 March 2019.

The first part of a plan two-stage consultation process, which ran for 12 weeks, asked for views on:

  • only providing public funding for qualifications that meet key criteria on quality, purpose, necessity and progression
  • not providing public funding for qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds that overlap with T Levels or A levels

The DfE has published its response to the first stage consultation today and launched the second stage consultation inviting views on the detailed proposals announced today. The consultation will run for 12 weeks.

The government will shortly publish a call for evidence inviting views on qualifications at Level 2 and below, including basic skills qualifications (English, maths, ESOL and digital).

The call for evidence will focus on what is working well and what more needs to be done to ensure every student achieves their potential.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 22 hours 16 minutes ago

The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work: Stats and Benefits: Working from home is a necessity rather than a luxury…
View Original Tweet

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