From education to employment

But Is Level 2 Being Made Available at Expense of Other Adult Education?, asks Michelle

For those who have all but lost the will to live following the recent public service debacles visited upon us by the Labour government, there is some heartening news to be found within the further education sector ““ or at least so it would appear.

Awarding body OCR is now able to offer its Level 2 National qualifications to students for free (thats right, for free), following the introduction of funding from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Under the entitlement scheme guidelines for 2005/06, further education centres can now provide free tuition for Level 2 OCR Nationals, allowing learners greater choice and flexibility when deciding on vocational qualification courses.

Natural Delight

Naturally, Sharon Woodfield, the Senior Manage at OCR, expressed delight at the news, commenting: “It offers improved access to our industry-relevant qualifications and gives centres more choice when selecting programmes of study for their learners.”

Launched in 2004, OCR Nationals are practical, work-related qualifications developed in consultation with Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) in order to equip learners with the skills, knowledge and understanding they will need in the working world (although it is not clear if courses in coping with recalcitrant computers, malfunctioning printers or irritating colleagues are included).

Available at Levels 1 to 3 of the National Qualification Framework, OCR Nationals are unit-based, flexible qualifications, which can be studied either full or part-time. Level 2 Nationals are available across eight subjects: business, design, health and social care, IT, media, public services, sport and travel, and tourism. Only learning providers funded by the LSC through the FE funding stream can offer fee remission for the tuition of full Level 2 qualifications in 2005/06. This includes all FE colleges and sixth form colleges as well as some other external institutions such as local education authorities.

Overall Increases?

Given the Government’s poor performance of late, it is encouraging to see funding increases within the education sector which, according to David Russell, Director of Resources at the LSC, are both overall, and well above inflation. But whether or not, as has been highlighted by the problems experienced recently within the NHS, these increases will translate into improved performance, is another matter altogether.

And we should not, in any event, get too excited: delve a little deeper, and it becomes clear that, viewed within an historical context, this increase is in fact lower than that of recent years. That it is still, as Russell points out in his letter to college principals, “significantly higher” than that received by other parts of the public sector is small comfort; it is not, after all, a competition.

Perhaps most disappointing however, is that, by its own admission, the LSC has focussed on Level 2, “in order to make progress towards government targets”, at the cost of other adult provision supported by the LSC. It is difficult therefore, to be too heartened by a measure that, in reality, deprives other learners in a bid to satisfy Government imposed rigours ““ for which the Government has, in fact, failed to provide adequate funding.

While there is obviously some benefit to be enjoyed by those students wishing to gain skills in the important area of working life, this news, on a broader scale, represents little more than the rearrangement of a spreadsheet.

Michelle Price

From the FE Trenches Coming Soon to FE News!

Related Articles