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The much anticipated post-16 skills plan and the report of the independent panel on technical education (Sainsbury Review) have both been released today (8 July 2016).
The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) shares the desire for a “dynamic high quality technical option” but does not accept the premise that “we have a marketbased approach to qualifications, which has led to huge numbers of competing qualifications.” A quick review of the 33 plumbing qualifications suggests that the culprit is the recently abandoned Qualification Credit Framework (QCF) which created multiple copies of the same qualification, together with the reasonable time lag when removing old qualifications to allow learners on programme to complete.
We are also concerned that single licences will create monopolies with all of the associated disincentives and perverse results. It is likely that the specialist niche awarding organisations (AOs) will be squeezed out which is particularly damaging as they are typically trade and professional bodies with the strongest links to employers.
The forward warns that “we have not paid enough attention to the lessons of the past” but then runs the risk of repeating one of the fundamental weaknesses that undermined the 14-19 diploma, with 15 routes (remember lines of learning) that are too broad to provide the specific skills required by employers.
AOs are a dynamic resource in the UK which hold unique assessment expertise. All of them work closely with employers, in fact almost 50% of them are trade or professional bodies staffed and directly funded by employers. They are also heavily regulated to ensure quality. Most of the weaknesses identified are the result of many years of well-meaning but ill thought through and rapidly changing initiatives imposed by previous administrations. Hopefully, lessons will be learned and as a key stakeholder we look forward to helping to develop these proposals into a cost effective, valid and valued technical offer for our young people.
Further information can be found here: Post-16 skills plan and independent report on technical education