County Council to invite further education heads to work with it on plugging skill gaps
Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee last week (20 Nov) resolved to work more closely with further education (FE) colleges and schools across the county to ensure that the courses on offer in the post-16 curriculum tackle skill shortages which exist in Notts.
It’s also calling on FE principals to work in partnership with Nottinghamshire schools and Nottinghamshire County Council to drive improvement at Key Stage 5 – A-level or equivalent qualifications – and ensure better performance monitoring.
Committee chairman Councillor Philip Owen said: “We need to address the unacceptable situation whereby Nottinghamshire’s performance at Key Stage 5 places the county 116th out of 151 local authorities across the country for pupils qualified to Level 3 by age 19.
“We will be inviting principals of further education colleges to a formal meeting with our chief executive, the chairman of our communities and place committee, myself and respective directors, to explore new ways of working to improve the outcomes of Nottinghamshire learners at the end of Key Stage 5 and strengthen the skill base of future employees in areas with skill shortages.
“In spite of improvements witnessed at Key Stage 4 in GCSE and equivalent qualifications over the past six years, this has not fed through to improved results at Key Stage 5.
“In addition, we will be commissioning a preliminary review of pupil outcomes at the end of Key Stage 5 with a view to developing a stronger partnership between schools, colleges and employers.
Currently the percentage of young people attending a Nottinghamshire school at age 16 years who are qualified to Level 3 (two or more passes at A-Level or equivalent) by age 19 years remains low.
Latest data for young people at the end of the 2015/16* academic year shows that 52% reached the Level 3 threshold where the top performing area of the country saw 75.1% of students reach this level.
The Council’s move comes following the outcomes of one of 40 Government post-16 area reviews which aimed to ensure that FE colleges were on a strong financial footing to better meet the long-term economic and educational needs of students and employers.
“Despite the purpose of the review from the Government’s perspective, we, along with all other local authorities consistently raised concerns about the quality of post-16 education to meet employer and economic priorities within the area,” added Coun Owen.
“This is a significant cause for concern and it’s disappointing that the national area reviews did not sufficiently focus on this issue’.
“We are also seeking access to a more skilled workforce at 19 years. As the county prioritises economic growth in its vision statement, ‘Your Nottinghamshire, Your Future’, it is essential that young people are able to access high quality technical education in its colleges, schools and through apprenticeships.
Specifically the County Council asked that the review considered:
- The poor outcome of learners at the end of Key Stage 5 which limits access to university and high quality employment and training
- The variable quality of careers advice and guidance resulting in too many learners making inappropriate choices post-16
- The need for improved provision post-16 for learners with special educational needs and disabilities to secure greater independence, access to FE provision and /or employment
- The lack of incentives to ensure successful employers, particularly from the eight sectors** identified in the D2N2 Skills Strategy, participate in producing the FE curriculum to ensure that vocational post-16 routes meet the needs of the sector.