Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

Written evidence from the Association of Colleges (SB 05)

Introduction

The Association of Colleges (AoC) represents and promotes the interests of colleges. We are a not for profit organisation created by colleges for colleges.

We:

· Represent colleges nationally;

· Provide advice to members on critical areas;

· Support organisational needs of colleges and partners.

About Colleges

FE and sixth form colleges are institutions that provide academic and vocational qualifications and skills to anyone.

Colleges provide a rich mix of academic and vocational education. They offer a wide variety of courses and opportunities for anyone, from young to old, to help them achieve their goals. These may include:

· A Levels

· Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships

· Foundation degrees

· Vocational qualifications at all levels

· Community Learning

· Undergraduate and postgraduate level degrees.

Key Facts:

· Every year colleges educate and train three million people.

· 846,000 16 to 18-year-olds choose to study in colleges – almost twice as many as school sixth forms. This includes 185,000 young people taking A Levels

· 154,000 students study higher education in a college

· Colleges run 1,300 businesses open to the public, including hair and beauty salons, restaurants and nurseries

· Colleges are major employers with 139,000 full-time equivalent staff members

1. We have commented only on Part 6 of the Bill which relates to education evaluation.

2. Clauses 67 – 69 aim to ‘improve the sharing of information on learning outcomes between government departments and schools, colleges and other educational bodies. [1]

3. Currently, similar data to that which will be collected under the terms of the Bill is collated via local authorities. Unfortunately this is often incorrect, incomplete or not made available in a useful format. Colleges therefore use staff time and commission external companies to supplement this information. It is required as evidence by Ofsted and to help potential students and employers make informed decisions.

4. The Association of Colleges, therefore, supports these clauses in principle because they should provide young people and their parents with accurate information about trends in employment and salary related to particular qualifications.

5. The clauses, over time, should also help colleges inform what qualifications and curriculum they decide to offer their local community.

6. The data will need time to bed down and for historic trends to be considered. However, we would caution against Government using this data to make decisions about the funding levels for individual qualifications.

7. New section 253A of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, inserted by Clause 68, provides a definition for the student information which can be shared. However, regulations will be produced which will set out when student information can be shared and with whom. We think there is merit in publishing these regulations in draft to allow for more detailed consideration.

8. New section 49B of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, inserted by Clause 69, allows the Secretary of State to provide destination information to a further education institution. Regulations will set out what information will be shared. We think there is merit in publishing these regulations in draft to allow for more detailed consideration. We are seeking clarity as to whether Clause 69 applies to schools and academies which provide education to 16 to 19-year-olds.

August 2014


[1] House of Commons Research Paper 14/39, section 8

Prepared 15th October 2014