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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 22 April 2013

Business, Innovation and Skills

Urenco

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Michael Fallon): I wish to inform the House that the Government have decided to work with our partners in the uranium enrichment company Urenco to move forward preparations for the sale of all or part of our one-third shareholding. It is Government policy not to continue to hold shares in companies where the shareholding itself does not deliver any policy objective. Any sale of our Urenco shareholding remains contingent upon full protection of our security and non-proliferation interests, and upon achieving value for money for the UK taxpayer.

Communities and Local Government

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (Targets 2013-2014)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Brandon Lewis): My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Baroness Hanham, has made the following written ministerial statement:

The agency’s principal financial target for 2013-14 is to achieve a minimum dividend payment to the Department for Communities and Local Government of £1.5 million as proposed in the business plan for the year.

The agency also has the following targets to achieve:

A minimum 52% occupancy of its rooms based on a theoretical full occupancy revenue of £9.7 million;

Overall score for value-for-money satisfaction of greater than 90%;

The number of complaints received to be less than two per 100 events; and

An average response time when answering complaints of less than four working days.

Education

Vocational Education Reform

The Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove): We are introducing a new school and college performance table measure which recognises the highest level of technical training achieved by students aged 16 to 19. This will be known as the technical baccalaureate measure. It will recognise the achievement of students taking advanced (level 3) programmes which include a DFE-approved occupational qualification, core maths, and an extended project. This builds on the radical reforms

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of 16 to 19 vocational qualifications on which we are currently consulting. Establishing a measure for excellence in technical provision will end the perception that vocational education in the UK is a poor second to academic study. Students will be well prepared to enter technician and higher apprenticeship roles in industry, or professional training or university.

It is part of a wide range of reforms that will help to repair the broken link between the qualifications students take, and the training that British industry needs. This will give employers and universities confidence that the vocational qualifications students achieve at 19 will be of a high standard and of real value to students with ambition and talent. The policy statement provides further details on the technical baccalaureate measure, and will be published on the Department’s website today.

Introduction of new technical baccalaureate measure for 16 to 19-year-olds.

Overview

The Government are introducing a new school and college performance table measure which recognises the highest level of technical training achieved by students aged 16 to 19. This will be known as the technical baccalaureate measure. It will recognise the achievement of students taking advanced (level 3) programmes which include a DFE-approved occupational qualification, core maths, and an extended project. It will be introduced for courses beginning in September 2014, for reporting in the 16 to 19 performance tables from 2016.

Establishing a measure for excellence in technical provision will end the perception that vocational education in the UK is a poor second to academic study. By recognising excellence, it will incentivise the development of the highest value provision and encourage the most able students to study demanding technical study programmes.

Students who achieve the qualifications that are included in the technical baccalaureate measure will be equipped to apply for technician roles and higher apprenticeships in a wide range of industry sectors. Alternatively, they could enter professional training or university.

Who is it aimed at?

The technical baccalaureate measure will be aimed at ambitious, talented students who want to pursue a technical career. It will give young people the opportunity to be stretched and demonstrate their personal best.

The group most likely to opt for qualifications included in the technical baccalaureate measure are those who choose to study advanced vocational qualifications having already achieved a grade C or above in GCSE maths. This means that over time, and as standards are raised, the proportion of students able to study at advanced level is likely to increase further.

The qualifications included in the technical baccalaureate measure will be most suited for young people interested in occupations that require significant theory and knowledge acquisition, such as:

STEM technicians (e.g. lab technicians, IT technicians, various engineering technician roles, construction professionals);

Service technicians (e.g. retail and hospitality management, personal services, junior accounting positions);

Creative technicians (e.g. digital media, other media, creative industries, sport industry, material/textiles, design).

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What does it include?

The technical baccalaureate measure is made up of three components.

To achieve the measure, a student would need to successfully complete an advanced (level 3) programme of at least one DFE-approved occupational qualification, level 3 maths qualification(s), and an extended project.

i) Occupational Qualifications

At the core of the new technical baccalaureate measure will be the study of qualifications which are recognised and valued by industry. In November 2013 the Government will publish details of the advanced level occupational and other qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds which will “count” towards reformed performance tables and the technical baccalaureate measure.

The Government are currently consulting on a process for identifying vocational qualifications that are genuinely “high value”. Further information on this can be found at:

http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/youngpeople/qandlearning/otherqualifications/a00222542/vocational-qualifications-16-19-year-olds

As part of this process, the Government are asking professional and industry bodies to endorse occupational qualifications that prepare a young person for a specific job role, and are intended for students who have a clear idea about an occupation they want to pursue. Some qualifications will prepare a student for a specific job role by confirming and in some cases certifying occupational competence. Others may provide a route into a specialist degree or a higher education course that qualifies entry to an occupation (many health and engineering professions, for example).

ii) Core Maths

Many aspects of technical education require the understanding and ability to apply maths, and there is evidence that those with level 3 maths benefit from improved employment prospects and higher wages.

Therefore, the technical baccalaureate measure includes the study of relevant core maths qualifications at level 3. This means students will need to have achieved a GCSE A*-C in English and maths before enrolling on a programme which meets the standard set by the new measure.

Further information about the core maths requirement for the technical baccalaureate measure will be published by the Department in due course. From 2014, A-level, AS-level and the international baccalaureate maths qualifications are expected to be included alongside other more applied maths qualifications such as mathematics for engineering. A number of new maths qualifications are currently being developed by awarding organisations and may also be included.

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iii) The Extended Project

The extended project will develop and test students’ skills in extended writing, communication, research, self-discipline and self-motivation. Such skills are in high demand by industry and academia. The extended project also gives students the opportunity to undertake research projects with an industry focus relevant to their vocational programme, encouraging them to explore further aspects of the occupation to equip them with a breadth of knowledge and understanding to reinforce their employability.

Timescales

The consultation on 16 to 19 vocational qualifications will close on 10 May. Details of the approved occupational qualifications which will count towards the technical baccalaureate measure are expected to be published in November 2013. The technical baccalaureate measure will be introduced alongside the teaching of these qualifications from September 2014. The measure will first be reported in the 2016 performance tables, due to be published in January 2017.

The Government’s forthcoming 16 to 19 consultation will propose further detail on how the technical baccalaureate measure will operate alongside wider 16 to 19 accountability reforms.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture and Fisheries Council (Agenda)

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Owen Paterson): The next Agriculture and Fisheries Council is on Monday 22 April in Luxembourg. I and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Minister with responsibility for natural environment, water and rural affairs, the Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon) will be representing the UK. Richard Lochhead MSP and Alun Davies AM will also attend.

On agriculture, the presidency will report to the Council on progress in the common agriculture policy (CAP) trilogue negotiations between the European Council, Parliament and Commission.

The fisheries items will follow with an orientation debate on the reform of the common fisheries policy, a presidency progress report on the negotiations relating to the common organisation of the markets for fisheries and aquaculture products dossier and a Commission presentation on an action plan for reducing the incidental catches of seabirds in fishing gears. Spain has also requested an AOB item on the state of play of fishery protocols with Morocco and Mauritania.