Apprenticeships, Skills, Children And Learning Bill - continued          House of Lords

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Chapter 4: Academy Arrangements

Clause 75: Academy arrangements

213.     This clause will enable the Secretary of State to require the YPLA to enter into arrangements with the Secretary of State, under which the YPLA may be required to carry out specified functions of the Secretary of State relating to Academies, city technology colleges (“CTCs”) and city colleges for the technology of the arts (“CCTAs”). Under the arrangements, the YPLA would carry out these functions on the Secretary of State’s behalf.

214.     Several of the Secretary of State’s functions relating to these schools are functions arising under funding agreements entered into by the Secretary of State under section 482 of the Education Act 1996. This section makes provision for the setting up and running of schools known as Academies. Under a previous version of section 482 of the 1996 Act, provision was made for the setting up of CTCs and CCTAs.

215.     Schedule 35A to the 1996 Act contains functions of the Secretary of State related to land and Academies. For instance, the Schedule allows the Secretary of State to require the transfer of land back from an Academy to an LEA, if the LEA provided it, at no cost should the school cease to be an Academy.

216.     Under this clause the Government intends that, from September 2010, the YPLA may be required to provide, on the Secretary of State’s behalf, support to and performance management of, Academies, CTCs and CCTAs. For example, the YPLA may be required to carry out the following of the Secretary of State’s functions: calculating and paying grants; supervising budgets; managing specific cases concerning admissions, exclusions and special educational needs; monitoring and enforcing funding agreements; monitoring the standard of performance of pupils; managing school building work. The YPLA may be required to report to the Secretary of State in accordance with the arrangements.

Clause 76: Grants for purposes of Academy arrangements functions

217.     This clause allows the Secretary of State to pay grants to the YPLA in order for the YPLA to carry out the functions specified in the arrangements. Subsection (2) allows the Secretary of State to make the payment of grant subject to conditions. For instance, the Secretary of State may require the YPLA to use the grant for a specific programme of improvement related to literacy and numeracy in Academies or to repay all or part of the grant if such a programme is not carried out.

Clause 77: Academy arrangements: information sharing

218.     This clause enables the persons listed in subsection (3) to provide information to each other in order to carry out a relevant function. Subsection (4) defines “relevant function”.

219.     This clause does not affect other information sharing powers, or authorise disclosure of information that would have otherwise been prevented by legislation or any Act of Parliament. For instance, this means that any information sharing carried out under this clause must still be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.

PART 4: THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF SKILLS FUNDING

220.     The White Paper Raising Expectations: enabling the system to deliver set out proposals to create a new system that would fund education and skills training for persons aged 19 or over (referred to in these Notes as “post 19”). A widespread consultation was undertaken on these proposals.

221.      Part 4 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill describes the powers and duties of the Chief Executive of Skills Funding, referred to in these Notes as “the Chief Executive”. The Chief Executive will be responsible for funding post-19 education and training, for exercising the apprenticeships functions, including securing provision of apprenticeship places for suitably qualified young people aged 16 to18; and for the education and training of those in adult custody.

222.     The Government intends that the Chief Executive will be supported by a new Skills Funding Agency, which will administer the funding system, and make payments to colleges, training providers and others based on the course selections of learners and employers and on a set of entitlements to learning, advice and financial support. The Skills Funding Agency will also manage the new Adult Advancement and Careers Service (AACS), the National Apprenticeship Service and the Train to Gain service. The Train to Gain service is the set of skills services provided to business including public sector employers. Together with its role in funding colleges and providers, these services will provide advice and support on jobs, skills and funding.

223.     The Skills Funding Agency will also oversee the development of the Further Education Sector, working with the aim of ensuring that the supply of learning provision meets the needs of learners and employers. This will include working with other agencies such as Jobcentre Plus to ensure those out of work or likely to be made redundant, receive an integrated employment and skills service, taking account of labour market needs.

224.     The Skills Funding Agency is not defined in this Bill - instead the Government intends that it will operate through the powers and duties of the Chief Executive of Skills Funding, as described in Part 4 of the Bill. The detailed role and functions of the Skills Funding Agency will be set out in a Framework Document which will be issued by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will also provide the agency with an annual letter setting out its budget and performance targets for each forthcoming financial year.

225.     Both the Chief Executive and the staff of the Skills Funding Agency will work within the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. The Chief Executive will be a civil servant and a member of the DIUS Board, and will be accountable to the Permanent Secretary and through him to Ministers.

226.     The Bill provides the Secretary of State with powers to direct the Chief Executive in certain circumstances, but the responsibility for making decisions relating to the funding of particular individuals or bodies lies with the Chief Executive, not the Secretary of State, who is prohibited from giving directions to the Chief Executive in relation to individual funding decisions.

Clause 79: The Chief Executive of Skills Funding

227.     This clause provides for there to be a Chief Executive of Skills Funding who will be appointed by the Secretary of State and whose functions will be limited to England, except where the Chief Executive participates in arrangements with devolved administrations — see clauses 104, 105 and 106 below.

228.     Most provisions about the Chief Executive which could broadly be categorised as relating to the administration of the office are contained in Schedule 4 whereas the specific duties, powers and functions in relation to the provision of education and training are in the main body of the Bill.

Schedule 4: The Chief Executive of Skills Funding

229.     Paragraph 1 provides that the holder of the office of Chief Executive will exercise the functions of the office on behalf of the Crown. It also provides that the office itself will be a corporation sole, so that any contracts entered into, or property owned by, the Chief Executive will pass automatically from one holder of the office to the next. Paragraph 2 sets out how the Chief Executive will hold and vacate office, and provides that the holder of the office will be a civil servant. Paragraphs 3 to 5 contain provision about the staff of the Chief Executive, who will form the Skills Funding Agency. These staff may either be staff appointed by the Chief Executive under paragraph 3, staff provided by the Secretary of State to the Chief Executive under secondment arrangements under paragraph 5 and will in either case be civil servants. Paragraph 4 makes arrangements whereby the Chief Executive may delegate the functions of the office to members of the Chief Executive’s staff and to staff provided by the Secretary of State under paragraph 5. Paragraph 6 to 8 make provision for operational matters such as funding, including the payment of grants to the Chief Executive and how these must be accounted for, and the preparation and publication of annual reports and accounts.

230.     Paragraph 9 sets out provision for supplementary powers and restrictions, and gives the Chief Executive additional general powers to enable him or her to perform the functions of the office. For example, these powers would allow the Chief Executive to acquire and dispose of land and other property, and enter into contracts. It also sets out those things that the Chief Executive may not do. So the Chief Executive may not borrow money and may not, without the prior consent of the Secretary of State, lend money; form, participate or invest in a company; or form, participate in forming, or become a member of a charitable incorporated organisation.

Apprenticeship Functions

Clause 80: Apprenticeship functions

231.     The Secretary of State may direct the Chief Executive of Skills Funding to designate a person to carry out apprenticeship functions on behalf of the Chief Executive. The Government expects that the person designated will be the Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). The NAS will be a discrete service within the Skills Funding Agency, and the Chief Executive of the NAS and his staff will undertake the apprenticeship functions, including the duty to secure places for young people under the apprenticeship scheme (clause 89). Subsection (5) sets out the “apprenticeship functions” that may be carried out under this section.

232.     This clause, together with the administrative arrangements in place, allows the Secretary of State to define and regulate the relationship between the Chief Executive of Skills Funding and the person designated to carry out the apprenticeship functions, and contains a power for the Secretary of State to make directions to the Chief Executive of Skills Funding requiring him to ensure that the designated person reports to the Secretary of State on the performance of the apprenticeship functions. The “Secretary of State” in this instance should be taken as meaning both the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

233.     All apprenticeship functions will be conferred by the Bill on the Chief Executive of Skills Funding. Where those functions are delegated to the Chief Executive of the NAS or another designated person, regulations under subsection (7) may make clear which statutory references should operate as references to the designated person, and may modify other statutory provisions.

Apprenticeship training for persons aged 16 to 18 and certain young adults

234.     Clauses 81 and 82 set out the general powers relating to the provision of apprenticeship places for young people. The local education authorities will agree with the Chief Executive the amount and type of apprenticeship training required.

235.     Within these general powers, the Chief Executive has a specific duty to secure sufficient suitable apprenticeship places for every suitably qualified young person aged 16 to 18 who wants one. This duty is set out as the apprenticeship scheme in clauses 89 to 97. A suitable place is in one of the two available chosen apprenticeship sectors, at the appropriate level, and within the reasonable travel area of the person concerned. The definitions and levels in these clauses relate solely to the apprenticeship scheme. The clauses do not define an apprenticeship, the characteristics of which will reflect the specification of apprenticeship standards provided for in Part 1.

Clause 81: Apprenticeship training for persons aged 16 to 18 and certain young adults

236.     This clause enables the Chief Executive to secure the provision of facilities for apprenticeship training of young people, that is, people above compulsory school age but under 19 and those aged 19 or over but under 25 who are subject to a learning difficulty assessment. These include the people for whose training and education local education authorities will be responsible under section 15ZA of the Education Act 1996 (inserted by clause 40 of the Bill). Apprenticeship training for them will be provided in response to the need for such training agreed with the local education authorities.

237.      Apprenticeship training is defined as training provided in connection with an apprenticeship agreement, any other contract of employment or other kinds of working which may lead to the award of apprenticeship certificates.

Clause 82: Arrangements and co-operation with local education authorities

238.     This clause enables the Chief Executive to enter into arrangements with local education authorities when securing apprenticeship training for young people. It also requires the Chief Executive to co-operate with local education authorities when deciding on the number of places for apprenticeship training to be secured. The arrangements need to enable local education authorities to meet their responsibilities under clause 40 of the Bill and to enable the Chief Executive to meet demand for apprenticeship places under the apprenticeship scheme in accordance with clause 89.

Clause 83: Encouragement of training provision etc for persons within section 81

239.     This sets out the general duty on the Chief Executive to promote apprenticeships for young people to employers, and encourage them to employ young people as apprentices.

Education and training for persons aged 19 or over etc.

Clause 84: Education and training for persons aged 19 or over and others subject to adult detention

240.     This clause sets out the general duty of the Chief Executive to secure the provision of “reasonable” facilities for the education and training of people aged 19 or over, (other than those aged under 25 who are subject to learning difficulty assessment)and those who are detained in a prison or an adult young offender institution. Facilities are “reasonable” if they are of a quality and quantity which the Chief Executive can reasonably be expected to provide taking account of the resources available to him or her (subsection (3)).

241.     The duties do not extend to higher education, which is the responsibility of the Higher Education Funding Council. This is because the Education Act 1996 applies for the interpretation of this Part, and section 1(4) of that Act excludes higher education from its ambit.

242.     The duty includes funding and securing delivery of education and training for those detained in prisons and adult young offender institutions, whether sentenced to imprisonment or committed to prison on remand or pending trial or otherwise. This aligns the category of detained people in relation to whom the Chief Executive has responsibilities with the category of people detained in the adult criminal justice system, thereby avoiding local education authorities and the Chief Executive each having responsibility for the provision of education or training in individual establishments. Local education authorities will be responsible for all those detained within the youth justice system (which includes nearly all those aged 17 and under, and those aged 18 who are close to the end of their sentence and who will therefore not transfer to adult prisons). Where a person in adult detention has already begun education or training, the Chief Executive must have regard to the desirability of those persons continuing such programmes whilst in custody. Feasibility of such provision as well as budgetary considerations may be taken into account.

243.     Subsection (4) sets out the factors the Chief Executive must take into account in exercising his or her duty under subsection (1), which include ensuring that the education and training required by different employment and industry sectors are met. It also requires the Chief Executive to act with a view to encouraging diversity in education and training; and to increasing opportunities for individuals to exercise choice.

244.     The Chief Executive should make the best use of resources and avoid provision which might give rise to disproportionate expenditure. Disproportionate expenditure is that which, although not necessarily wasteful, is too much or too little in view of the overall functions and expenditure of the Chief Executive. For example, in respect of courses for which there are high levels of demand fairly consistently across the country, the duty would be satisfied if provision for learners and employers (via Train to Gain) were accessible widely across many institutions and with a good regional distribution. This position would differ where demand both for courses and for skills is more limited, and for these the Chief Executive must have regard to proportionate expenditure. Meeting this duty may require, for example, a more limited offer of places concentrated in geographical areas with links to a particular industry sector. Learners (and employers) seeking to access these more unusual courses may need to travel (or permit employees to travel) to take up the offer of a course.

245.     No distinction is drawn between full-time and part-time education in the provision that the Chief Executive must secure.

246.     “Organised leisure time occupation” is defined in subsection (8). The Chief Executive’s duties in this regard do not apply to those who are detained in prison or adult young offender institutions; such facilities are provided by the prison or other institution.

Clause 85: Learning aims for persons aged 19 or over: provision of facilities

247.     Clauses 85, 86 and 87 re-enact provisions inserted into the Learning and Skills Act 2000 by section 86 of the Education and Skills Act 2008, but conferring functions on the Chief Executive rather than the LSC. Clause 85 places a duty on the Chief Executive to secure the provision of proper facilities (in contrast to the reasonable facilities provided for in clause 84) for education and training to enable adults who lack particular skills to obtain relevant qualifications. Subsection (4) of clause 85 defines proper facilities as those which are of a sufficient quantity and adequate quality to meet the reasonable needs of individuals. This clause effectively gives higher funding priority to those adults who lack certain particular skills to enable them to obtain relevant qualifications.

248.     The broad standards of achievement (or “learning aims”) for this purpose are set out in Schedule 5. They are a specified qualification in literacy, a specified qualification in numeracy and a specified vocational qualification at level 2. The specification of the particular qualifications to which the duty applies will be in regulations.

249.     The duty will apply only to a learner’s first qualification at the specified level. For example, the Chief Executive will not be under a duty to secure the provision of proper facilities for a learner with a level 2 National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Beauty Therapy who then applies for a level 2 course in Hairdressing. However, the Secretary of State may by regulations made under clause 87 provide that despite having a specified qualification, a person is to be treated as not having that qualification. This could apply, for example, where an individual had achieved a school leaving qualification in English or maths but was later identified, as a result of diagnostic assessment, as having skills below the basic levels of literacy or numeracy.

250.     The qualifications will be those at relatively low levels of learning, which are designed to equip people with basic and intermediate skills for work and everyday living

251.     In performing the duty, the Chief Executive must take account of a number of factors, such as the education and training needs in different sectors of employment. The Chief Executive must also act with a view to encouraging diversity of education and training and to increasing opportunities for individuals to exercise choice; and must make the best use of resources, particularly with a view to avoiding provision which might give rise to disproportionate expenditure.

Clause 86: Learning aims for persons aged 19 or over: payment of tuition fees

252.     This clause places a duty on the Chief Executive to ensure that learners will not be liable to pay fees for courses of study provided as a result of clause 85. There are two categories of learners that the Government intends will not generally have to pay fees for their courses:

  • Subsection (2) covers those that are at least 19 years of age and are following a course of study for their first specified qualification in literacy, numeracy, or a specified vocational qualification at level 2;

  • Subsection (4) covers those that are at least 19 but less than 25 who are following a course to get their first specified level 3 qualification (for example, two A-levels).

253.     The intention is that these learners will not be liable to pay fees for these courses of study.

254.     Fees include the course fees, but the Secretary of State may also specify in regulations, which will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, that other fees relating to the course; for example, examination fees and costs of diagnostic assessment, are included. Costs which are not fees (for example, the costs of buying books, equipment and materials) will not come within the scope of the duty.

255.     Subsection (5) gives the Secretary of State the power to amend by order, which will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, the relevant provisions of this clause so as to vary the ages at which learners qualify for financial help under this section. This provides the flexibility, for example, to be able to adapt to changing economic conditions.

Clause 87: Sections 85 and 86: supplementary

256.     This clause sets out supplementary provisions relating to regulations relating to clauses 85 and 86. Regulations may make provision about the circumstances in which a person is to be treated as having or not having a particular qualification for the purposes of meeting the entitlement. It also provides that clauses 85 and 86 do not apply to people detained in prisons or adult young offender institutions.

Schedule 5: Learning aims for persons aged 19 or over

257.     The Schedule sets out the learning aims for people aged 19 or over, that is the broad categories from which qualifications may be specified as ones for which the Chief Executive must secure proper facilities (clause 85) or pay for tuition fees (clause 86).

258.     These categories are:

  • a specified qualification in literacy (at the level of attainment in literacy at which an adult’s skills are the minimum required to operate in day-to-day life);

  • a specified qualification in numeracy (at the level of attainment in numeracy at which an adult’s skills are the minimum required to operate in day-to-day life);

  • level 2 (as demonstrated by 5 GCSEs at Grade C or above);

  • level 3 (as demonstrated by 2 A-levels).

259.     The Secretary of State may by regulations specify particular qualifications or descriptions of qualifications which are to fall within scope of the duties. The Government intends that the qualifications specified will be drawn from either the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) or the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). However, not all qualifications in either framework will necessarily be specified.

260.     Qualifications which might be specified in regulations include the following:

  • Literacy

    • —     level 1 certificate in Adult Literacy

    • Numeracy

    • — entry level 3 certificate in Adult Numeracy

  • Level 2

    • — level 2 National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)

    • — Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQs) at level 2

  • Level 3

    • — Two or more A-levels

    • — One or more A-level double Award

    • — level 3 NVQs

    • — level 3 Diplomas

    • — International Baccalaureate

    • — Access to HE certificate/diploma

261.     The Secretary of State may amend the Schedule by order to specify that a particular category of qualification is no longer within scope of the duties or to add a new category of qualification. Any such amendment will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

 
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