Tag: England

Apprenticeships: All you need to know

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Despite government plans to create three million apprenticeships by 2020, the number of apprentices starting new programmes in England has dropped.

Apprentices combine on-the-job training with their studies. Most are under the age of 25, and work in the service industries in England.

But radical changes to the way apprenticeships in the UK work were introduced in April 2017.

The apprenticeship levy scheme was introduced – a tax on large employers to help fund people training at work.

The government estimates the levy will raise £2.8b in 2018.

But some critics say it might discourage employers from taking on apprentices.

So what’s going on?

1. Apprenticeship numbers are down

There were 114,400 apprenticeship starts in England in the three months from August to October 2017, which was 49,800 fewer than a year earlier – a drop of 30%.

The Department for Education said the changes to how apprenticeships were funded were “likely to have impacted on starts” but the levy-payers it had spoken to were planning to increase the number of apprentices they employed in the future.

The new levy applies to all UK employers with a wage bill over £3m – but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland manage their own apprenticeship schemes and how they are funded.


How does the apprenticeship levy work?

  • UK employers with wage bills of over £3m pay 0.5% of their payroll into a central apprenticeships fund
  • Levy payments are translated into vouchers that larger public and private sector companies can use to fund apprenticeships
  • Companies with a wage bill of less than £3m pay 10% of training costs directly to the provider, with the government paying the remaining 90%, up to a funding band maximum
  • The government provides all of the funding for training 16- to 18-year-old apprentices if a company has fewer than 50 employees

2. Employers ‘don’t understand the new levy’

The government estimated the new levy would affect only about 2% of employers in the UK. But a survey of more than 1,000 UK employers released by the HR industry body the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggested about a third currently pay it.

According to the CIPD survey, 22% of employers don’t know whether they have to pay the levy or not.

Nearly half of employers surveyed (46%) thought they would be encouraged to “re-badge” existing training schemes as apprenticeships, in order to claim the money back.

The new levy has drawn criticism from the likes of the Institute of Directors, who said many businesses did not understand how the new system worked and that one in 10 of their members wrote the levy off as a tax.

But Anne Milton, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, said: “There have been significant changes for employers and training providers since April 2017, and it’s right that they take the time to plan ahead to make sure they get the skilled workforce they need.”

The government introduced other apprenticeship changes in 2017, including a 12-month minimum duration for all apprenticeships and a quota of 20% off-the-job training.

3. The health sector is the most popular among apprentices

Health, business, engineering, retail and construction were the most popular sectors for new apprentices in England last year.

Most starts were in two of those sectors, which accounted for 277,330 between them:

  • health, public services and care
  • business, administration and law

Intermediate, the first level of apprenticeship, roles might include an IT coordinator, a mental health support worker or a bricklaying apprentice.

4. More women start apprenticeships than men

In 2016-17, 54% of apprenticeship starts in England were by women (262,820), compared with 46% by men (228,520).

The number of women starting apprenticeships in England has been higher than men every year since 2010-11.

5. But male apprentices are earning more

In 2016, male apprentices surveyed by the Department for Business earned on average £7.10 per hour, while women received just £6.85.

But taking the median hourly pay (the middle value when everyone’s wages are arranged from highest to lowest) into account, female apprentices earned 17p per hour more.

According to the Young Women’s Trust, a charity that campaigns for disadvantaged young women, female apprentices are under-represented in Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) sectors. Male apprentices are concentrated in IT, construction and engineering – sectors that tend to be better paid.

In 2015-16, more than 72,000 male apprentices started programmes in engineering in England, compared with 6,260 women, according to the DfE. By contrast, more than 100,000, or 40% of all female apprentices, started programmes in the health and social care sector.

The Young Women’s Trust says action must be taken to improve access for women in Stem sectors, such as introducing mentoring schemes or women-only work experience placements.

6. Apprenticeship achievements are up

In 2016-17, 277,800 people completed an apprenticeship in England – the highest number since comparable records began in 2002.

Apprentices might not complete their programmes for several reasons:

  • leaving one job for another
  • returning to school, college or university
  • dropping out of the education and training system altogether

7. More apprentices are starting advanced programmes

Although the overall number of apprentices starting new programmes has seen a drop, more apprentices are starting advanced or higher level programmes in England.

Completing an advanced apprenticeship is equivalent to two A-level passes.

Higher apprentices can work towards qualifications such as a foundation degree or the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree – without paying tuition fees.

In 2016-17, 53% of apprenticeship starts were at intermediate level, 40% at advanced level and the remaining 7% at higher level.

The proportion of higher and advanced level apprenticeships has climbed steadily from 37% in 2011-12 to 47% in the last academic year.

8. How do apprenticeships work across the rest of the UK?

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) recently announced more than 3,500 new-style apprenticeship places for 2018.

Foundation apprentices work towards their qualifications and gain work experience while studying for their National 5s or Highers.

Graduate apprentices can study to master’s level, splitting their time between college, university or their employers.

There were also 26,262 modern apprenticeship starts in 2016-17, up 444 from the previous year.

There are three levels of apprenticeships on offer in Wales:

  • foundation apprenticeships
  • apprenticeships
  • higher apprenticeships

More than 24,000 apprenticeship programmes were started in the 2016-17 academic year in Wales.

In the academic year to April 2017, 6,381 apprentices started Level 2 and Level 3 programmes in Northern Ireland, equivalent to five GCSEs at A*-C, or two A-levels.

In Northern Ireland, anyone who has completed their A-levels or equivalent can work towards a higher level apprenticeship, which helps those in work gain qualifications equivalent to a foundation or bachelor’s degree or a post-graduate qualification.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42977824

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Pupils need internet lessons to thrive online, say Lords – BBC News

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Learning to survive in a world dominated by the internet should be as important for children as reading and writing, says a House of Lords report.

Lessons about online responsibilities, risks and acceptable behaviour should be mandatory in all UK schools, the Lords Communications Committee argues.

The internet is “hugely beneficial” but children need awareness of its hazards, said committee chairman Lord Best.

Industry leaders said education was key to keeping children safe online.

The Lords report builds on findings by the Children’s Commissioner for England in January that the internet is not designed for children, despite them being the biggest users by age group.

“Children inhabit a world in which every aspect of their lives is mediated through technology: from health to education, from socialising to entertainment.

“Yet the recognition that children have different needs to those of adults has not yet been fully accepted in the online world,” say the Lords.

Fake news

Lord Best added: “There is a lot of material which makes the internet harmful but it can also be hugely beneficial – a way for children to interact and find out about the world.”

However, they need to cope with online pornography, internet grooming, sexting and body image issues, he said, as well as building resilience to the addictive properties of internet games which are “designed and developed to keep users online, missing out on sleep as they stay in their bedrooms glued to the screen”.

Children also need to be aware of the dangers of fake news and covert advertising online, he added.

The report argues that “digital literacy should be the fourth pillar of a child’s education alongside reading, writing and mathematics and be resourced and taught accordingly”.

It should form the core of a new curriculum for personal social health and economic education, it adds.

It backs the government’s move to make sex and relationships education statutory in England but says PSHE should also be mandatory in all schools, with the subject included in inspections.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Too many teens miss out on sleep as they stay online ‘glued to the screen’ said Lord Best

The report notes “a worrying rise in unhappy and anxious children emerging alongside the upward trend of childhood internet use” and calls for more robust research into a “possible causal relationship” alongside immediate action to prevent children being affected.

Overall, the report says the internet should “do more to promote children’s best interests” but found self regulation by industry was “failing” and that commercial interests “very often” took priority.

Meanwhile, it adds, government responsibility is “fragmented” with little co-ordinated policy and joined-up action.

Other recommendations include:

  • Content control filters and privacy settings to be “on” by default for all customers
  • All online businesses to respond quickly to requests by children to remove content
  • A children’s digital champion to be appointed to argue for their rights at the highest levels of government
  • An industry summit, chaired by the prime minister, on redesigning the internet to serve children better

“This issue is of such critical importance for our children that the government, civil society and all those in the internet value chain must work together to improve the opportunities and support where the end user is a child,” the Lords conclude.

The Internet Services Providers Association rejected calls for stronger regulation, while backing the report’s call for better education.

James Blessing, who chairs the ISPA, said that the UK was regarded as a world leader in keeping children safe online “through a self-regulatory approach”.

“We believe the most effective response is a joint approach based on education, raising awareness and technical tools,” he said.

The government said it wanted to make the UK the safest place in the world for young people to go online.

“Ministers have begun work on a new internet safety strategy that will help make this a reality, and we will carefully consider the recommendations included in the Lords Communications Committee Report as part of this process,” said a spokesman.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39329967

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The new GCSE grades explained – BBC News

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As teachers express concerns about the way in which new GCSEs in England are being graded from 9-1 rather than A*-G, we answer some key questions about the changes.

When do the new 1-9 grades come in?

The new grades are being phased in, starting with some of this summer’s exams.

New-style GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths will be taken by the current Year 11 students – these exams will be graded in the new way, with nine as the highest mark and one the lowest.

A four is broadly being compared to a C grade, although the exams watchdog, Ofqual, warns against “direct comparisons and overly simplistic descriptions”.

For most other subjects – including biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, French, Spanish, religious education, geography, music and history – the new grades will be awarded from the summer of 2018.

A third wave of 9-1 graded GCSEs – including psychology, ancient history, business, information and communications technology (ICT) and media studies – will be taught from September 2017 with exams in 2019.

So some teenagers will have a mix of GSCEs under different marking schemes?

Yes, that’s right. The current Year 11s will get English and maths results under the new numerical grading scheme and the rest of their options will be graded A*-G.

The current Year 10 students will then sit most of their GCSEs under the new system, but they might have some under the old system, for example if they are taking ancient history or ICT, while those pupils now in Year 9 will be fully “moved over” on to the numerical grading system.

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How do the new grades compare to the old ones?

Grades nine, eight and seven are broadly equivalent to an A* and A. Grades six, five and four are in line with B and C grades. A three would be broadly similar to a D grade, with two and one taking in grades E, F and G.

There is still a U (ungraded) mark.

Education Secretary Justine Greening says a grade four will be seen as a “standard pass” and a grade five as a “strong pass”.

She also says that for school performance tables, the government will publish “standard passes” (grade four and above) but also the “strong passes” (at grade five and above).

Watchdog Ofqual says that, broadly, the same proportion of teenagers will get a grade four and above as currently get a grade C or above.

It also says a formula will be used which will mean that about 20% of all grades at seven or above will be awarded a grade nine.

Chief regulator Sally Collier says students who get a nine will have “performed exceptionally”.

Won’t the first cohort to sit the new exams be disadvantaged?

It certainly feels like this and students in the next two year groups are guinea pigs for the new grading system.

However, Ofqual insists these students will not be disadvantaged.

It says that in 2016, in English and in maths, about 70% of 16-year-old students achieved a grade C or above and so it would expect a similar percentage to achieve a four and above in this summer’s exams.

Ofqual also says exam boards will use test results from national curriculum tests (Sats) taken at the end of primary school to predict the likely achievement at the new grades of one, four and seven.

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Why are GCSE grades in England being changed?

The new GCSE grading scheme is part and parcel of a new curriculum which was introduced in England’s schools in 2014 by the then Education Secretary Michael Gove.

The new GCSEs courses include much less coursework than before, with grades in almost all subjects depending on exams.

Courses are designed to be more rigorous with exams taken after two years of study, rather than in modules with exams along the way.

What is happening in Wales?

Change is under way in Wales as well as in England. The Welsh government has introduced new and revised GCSEs taught from September 2015.

The most significant changes are in English language, Welsh language and mathematics. In all the changed subjects, the new or revised specifications will be the only ones available to state schools in Wales. They will be delivered by the WJEC examination board.

One crucial difference to England is that the established grading structure of A*- G is being maintained.

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What is happening in Northern Ireland?

While pupils in England will have results graded 9-1 and pupils in Wales will have A*-G graded results, pupils in Northern Ireland could end up with a mix of A*-G and numerical grades.

Initially, the Northern Ireland government said all exam boards operating in the province must give their results on an A* to G basis. This led English exam boards OCR and AQA to announce they would not offer the new GCSEs there.

But in June 2016, this decision was reversed by new Education Minister Peter Weir and pupils will now be allowed to sit GCSE grades from English exam boards giving results using the 9-1 system.

Approximately three-quarters of GCSEs in Northern Ireland are taken through the NI Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA); the remaining quarter through the AQA, OCR, Edexcel or WJEC exam boards.

What about Scotland?

Scotland has its own system of public examinations: Nationals and Highers.

Nationals replaced the old Standard Grades in 2014 and new Higher exams were introduced in 2015.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39490307

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Pupils need internet lessons to thrive online, say Lords – BBC News

Image copyright Thinkstock

Learning to survive in a world dominated by the internet should be as important for children as reading and writing, says a House of Lords report.

Lessons about online responsibilities, risks and acceptable behaviour should be mandatory in all UK schools, the Lords Communications Committee argues.

The internet is “hugely beneficial” but children need awareness of its hazards, said committee chairman Lord Best.

Industry leaders said education was key to keeping children safe online.

The Lords report builds on findings by the Children’s Commissioner for England in January that the internet is not designed for children, despite them being the biggest users by age group.

“Children inhabit a world in which every aspect of their lives is mediated through technology: from health to education, from socialising to entertainment.

“Yet the recognition that children have different needs to those of adults has not yet been fully accepted in the online world,” say the Lords.

Fake news

Lord Best added: “There is a lot of material which makes the internet harmful but it can also be hugely beneficial – a way for children to interact and find out about the world.”

However, they need to cope with online pornography, internet grooming, sexting and body image issues, he said, as well as building resilience to the addictive properties of internet games which are “designed and developed to keep users online, missing out on sleep as they stay in their bedrooms glued to the screen”.

Children also need to be aware of the dangers of fake news and covert advertising online, he added.

The report argues that “digital literacy should be the fourth pillar of a child’s education alongside reading, writing and mathematics and be resourced and taught accordingly”.

It should form the core of a new curriculum for personal social health and economic education, it adds.

It backs the government’s move to make sex and relationships education statutory in England but says PSHE should also be mandatory in all schools, with the subject included in inspections.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Too many teens miss out on sleep as they stay online ‘glued to the screen’ said Lord Best

The report notes “a worrying rise in unhappy and anxious children emerging alongside the upward trend of childhood internet use” and calls for more robust research into a “possible causal relationship” alongside immediate action to prevent children being affected.

Overall, the report says the internet should “do more to promote children’s best interests” but found self regulation by industry was “failing” and that commercial interests “very often” took priority.

Meanwhile, it adds, government responsibility is “fragmented” with little co-ordinated policy and joined-up action.

Other recommendations include:

  • Content control filters and privacy settings to be “on” by default for all customers
  • All online businesses to respond quickly to requests by children to remove content
  • A children’s digital champion to be appointed to argue for their rights at the highest levels of government
  • An industry summit, chaired by the prime minister, on redesigning the internet to serve children better

“This issue is of such critical importance for our children that the government, civil society and all those in the internet value chain must work together to improve the opportunities and support where the end user is a child,” the Lords conclude.

The Internet Services Providers Association rejected calls for stronger regulation, while backing the report’s call for better education.

James Blessing, who chairs the ISPA, said that the UK was regarded as a world leader in keeping children safe online “through a self-regulatory approach”.

“We believe the most effective response is a joint approach based on education, raising awareness and technical tools,” he said.

The government said it wanted to make the UK the safest place in the world for young people to go online.

“Ministers have begun work on a new internet safety strategy that will help make this a reality, and we will carefully consider the recommendations included in the Lords Communications Committee Report as part of this process,” said a spokesman.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39329967

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Minister cancels leaked primary spelling test – BBC News

Image caption The test paper had been accidentally published on the Department for Education’s website

The schools minister has been forced to cancel a national spelling test for England’s primary schools, after a teacher spotted it had already been published online as a practice paper.

Nick Gibb said this was a “clearly regrettable incident”.

More than half a million seven-year-olds had been due to take the test next month, as part of their Sat tests.

Head teachers’ leaders, who had called for the scrapping of the test, welcomed the decision.

It follows the discovery that part of the English test paper had been mistakenly published on the Department for Education’s website, for use as practice material, and had been available there for three months – potentially giving some pupils a clear advantage.

The blunder was initially spotted by a teacher at a school that was carrying out an official trial of the test, using the paper that was to be taken by pupils around England.

“We have no way of knowing how extensively it has been used by schools and parents,” said Russell Hobby, the leader of the National Association of Head Teachers.

Mr Hobby said the schools minister had acted “quickly and appropriately” in cancelling this part of the Sats tests for seven-year-olds.

Mr Gibb issued a statement saying: “To remove any uncertainty and clarify the situation for schools, I have decided that we will remove the requirement on them to administer the Key Stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test for this year only.”

He said that no other test papers for Key Stage 1 pupils appeared to have been affected.

The schools minister also announced there would be a “root and branch inquiry” into the Standards and Testing Agency, an agency of the Department for Education that sets tests.

A statement from the Standards and Testing Agency said the mistaken publishing of the words to be tested, rather than another sample, was the result of “human error”.


A guide to Sats

Key Stage 1 Sats tests are taken by six- and seven-year-olds in England at the end of Year 2.

Pupils take tests in:

  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling (two papers)
  • English reading (two papers)
  • mathematics (two papers)

The Key Stage 1 test results are used by teachers to reach an overall judgement of the standards pupils have reached in these key subjects.

Parents also receive a teacher assessment for science, though there is no science test.

A second set of tests, Key Stage 2 Sats, are taken by 10- and 11-year-olds at the end of Year Six.

The Key Stage 2 tests are used as a measure of school performance.

This year’s Key Stage 2 tests will be more demanding than in previous years and will be based on the new curriculum taught in England since 2014.

Pupils will sit them on set dates in the second week in May.

They include:

  • English reading (one paper)
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling (two papers)
  • Mathematics (three papers)

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36108449

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