Coronavirus Update: AoC Alert (22.05.20)

Published: 22 May 2020

ESFA financial return

As you will have seen in ESFA’s update and our daily briefing, the agency will be circulating instructions to colleges on 15 June 2020 to make a financial return by 31 July 2020. We are working - via the College Finance Directors Group - with ESFA staff on this return which we believe will be a significant improvement on the unhelpful Integrated Financial Model for Colleges and which we will insist is used both to identify where the sector needs support and to support individual institutions in a constructive way. Any queries to Julian Gravatt. Julian will also be hosting a webinar on 2 June covering the issues colleges need to consider in setting 2020/21 budgets, including the assumptions they might make and decisions they need to take.

Ofqual decisions on summer assessments

The government has published its decisions about the exceptional arrangements for awarding A Level and GCSE grades this summer. It is available here. The full analysis of responses to the consultation is available here. It has also published its consultation response for Vocational and technical qualifications. We have responded here. With further analysis of the autumn exam series on the hub.

Higher education regulation and student number controls

We sent the attached note to senior DfE and OfS officials this week with some suggestions about how DfE could apply (or not apply) student number controls to colleges. Decisions could be made quickly in this area and we are particularly keen to protect all types of college HE courses, whether directly managed or franchised. AoC will also be responding on Tuesday morning to OfS’s consultation on a new temporary “good behaviour” condition. Our current draft supports the overall plan, notes the need to protect franchised provision and suggests that OfS needs to work via ESFA on issues relating to governance. Any queries or comments to Arti Saraswat or Julian Gravatt.

Pearson centre assessment guidance

Pearson have published updated guidance this week for their qualifications. This should have been sent direct to centres but all materials are available here.

Write to your local MP to highlight the support colleges need

As you would be aware, AoC wrote to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, two weeks ago with the results of our members survey and a set of five asks, including a ‘September promise’. You can read the full asks here.

We are now encouraging members to write to your local MP to reiterate these asks. To simplify the process during this busy time, we have put together a set of tools to assist (graphics, template letter and template press release) which you can access here.

AoC President nominations

Just a reminder that we are inviting nominations for the role of AoC President for the period 01 August 2020 - 31 July 2021. The closing date is Friday 29 May. The President plays an important role in supporting the key link between members and the strategy and work of AoC. If you have any questions about the election process, or wish to arrange a discussion with Julie Nerney (AoC Chair) or David Hughes (CEO) regarding the role of President, please contact Jim Edwards on 07703 522169 or by e-mail.

UK/EU negotiations and the end of free movement

There were three interesting developments this week:

  • Following three rounds of negotiations between the UK and EU commission on the future UK/EU relationship for 2021 and beyond, the UK government published 12 separate negotiating texts with the UK wish-lists plus a letter confirming that there is some disagreement between the two sides on a number of key points.
  • On Monday, the Home Office secured a second reading for the Immigration bill from the House of Commons which will end UK/EU free movement and pave the way for a new points based immigration system which will take effect in January 2021.
  • After pressure from the public, Labour and its own backbenchers, the government decided to exempt NHS workers from the new higher immigration health surcharge despite the 2019 manifesto promise to increase it. One consequence of the new immigration system is that new EU migrants (including college staff and students) will be in line to pay this fee unless there is a UK/EU deal on this point.

Any questions on these issues to Emma Meredith or Julian Gravatt.

Youth Employment Group - Young People’s Survey

AoC is a member of the Youth Employment Group alongside organisations like the Prince’s Trust, Youth Employment UK, Impetus and Institute of Employment Studies. The group has launched a survey for young people aged 16-24 to understand the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on their decisions around jobs and training. We’re hoping for a good response - please encourage students to take part.

Upcoming webinars

How colleges are transforming their EdTech strategy – Best practice and solutions to help you develop your online delivery

Wednesday 3 June, 2pm

The second webinar in the series will feature Weston College and Basingstoke College of Technology discussing Vision and Leadership and Basic Digital Skills respectively. Find out more and register here.

How do boards quality assure their online delivery

Friday 5 June, 3:30pm - 5pm

This webinar will provide key information to college Governors, Governance Professionals and other leaders about how they quality assure their online delivery. Every college will be using different platforms to support online learning which will enable different reporting of data and mechanisms for quality assurance, so there won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Register here.