Roger Francis is Business Development Director and a founding partner in Creative Learning Partners, an award-winning vocational training provider specialising in the delivery of Functional Skills. Prior to setting up the company, he was Services and HR Director with Mindleaders, a global leader in learning technology where he established a highly successful Learning Services division using a blend of eLearning and field-based practitioners to deliver a range of vocational training programmes including Apprenticeships and Functional Skills.
He chairs the AELP Functional Skills Special Interest Group, is a dedicated blogger and tweeter and a regular contributor to conferences throughout the UK.
I feel I must respond to Matt Garvey’s recent article about sub-contracting. Matt and I clearly have very different views about many things and I respect his opinions. It would be a strange world if everyone in the FE sector agreed about everything. I’m therefore saddened that not only has Matt chosen to personalise his piece but has included information which is palpably untrue.
Sub-contracting is an issue which raises strong emotions in the sector and has been the subject of passionate debate both in FE News and elsewhere. Supporters claim passionately that sub-contracting has been a valuable process which has enabled small providers to gain access to funding without being weighed down by an administrative burden.
Last week I wrote an article challenging the so-called cuts in Apprenticeship funding for providers and suggesting that from next April we need to adopt a very different mindset when it comes to funding. The article was meant to stimulate a debate and I am therefore delighted that it has done just that. I would however like to take issue with some of the specific points which were made by those people who believe that these funding changes will have a devastating impact on 16-18 year olds in deprived areas. I should add that my comments refer to Levy-paying employers because as yet, we do not have sufficient information to understand how the non-Levy payers system will work.
The headlines over the last few weeks have all been about huge cuts in Apprenticeship Funding. Of course, they could equally have read “Huge Increases in Apprenticeship Funding” but then I suppose there wouldn’t have been a story. The sector has rightly been begging different governments for years to simplify the horribly complex funding regulations. But when for once they actually listen and take advantage of the Apprenticeship Reforms to introduce a standard rate regardless of age, area or any other factor, the news is greeted with shock and horror and wild tales of potentially devastating effects on disadvantaged learners in inner cities.
It seems that hardly a day goes by at the moment without the release of another publication which confirms the huge basic skills crisis which exists in the UK. In that context, the latest report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which highlights the relationship between a lack of basic literacy and numeracy skills and poverty and under-achievement in young people, makes sobering reading.
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