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Plans unveiled for improving work-based learning


Lifelong Learning and Higher Education Minister Margaret Hodge today pledged to tackle the uneven quality in work-based learning following the publication of the Learning and Skills Development Agency report 'Making the Grade: a report on standards in work-based learning for young people'.

The report states that although success rates for work-based learners are improving they are still low. No single cause was found for the range of poor inspection grades awarded by the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI). According to the DfES, the key issues to be addressed include the lack of understanding of quality improvement processes, building capacity in the workplace to meet recent developments, improving guidance to providers and the need to network and share good practice.

Mrs Hodge said: "Earlier this year I started a debate on how to tackle uneven quality in further education and training. This report has revealed that despite recent progress in the work-based learning route for young people there is still more to be done. We have put together a robust action plan, designed to transform the quality of this learning route and are asking the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and the ALI to intensify their support for providers of work-based learning."

David Sherlock, Chief Inspector of ALI said: "The real issue is not whether work-based provision is getting worse - it is that it is not good enough. Although excellent provision does exist, too few of our young people are getting the quality of vocational training that they should rightfully expect. Many providers need expert support and guidance in order to make the necessary improvements and adapt to changes in post-16 arrangements."

Chris Hughes, Chief Executive of LSDA said: "The key question that is asked by inspection is ‘How well do learners achieve?’ The primary evidence source for this is success rates, which are modest in work-based learning. Expectations have increased but providers have not been supported to raise their game."

Avril Willis, Director of Quality and Standards at the LSC said: "The Cassels report requires more from providers and that is why we are investing £25m in addition to existing Standards Fund money to transform the experience of learners. The LSC will ensure that all providers build quality into their provision to enable learners to succeed."

The DfES, working in partnership with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) and Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) have developed an action plan in response to this report. It builds on the action already identified in response to the recent report on the Modern Apprenticeship Advisory Committee chaired by Sir John Cassels. The plan aims to:
- enable the LSC to re-deploy £25m into a work based learning fund to implement Modern Apprenticeship reform and so improve retention and achievement rates;
- improve information and guidance on apprenticeship frameworks and progressions routes;
- establish Apprenticeship Agents to help employers deliver apprenticeship programmes;
- support providers so they have every opportunity to improve before re-inspection and terminate the contracts of those which cannot recover, while protecting the learners who are only part way through their programmes; and
- improve provider understanding of quality improvement processes including self-assessment and inspection.


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