Education: What does the passing of the Technical and FE Bill mean for the sector?
The House of Lords has granted the Technical and Further Education Bill final clearance but what will this mean for the education sector? Here we take a look.
On the 27th of April, the Queen signed the Technical and Further Education Bill, transferring the bill into law. This was done ahead of Parliament’s dissolution on May 3rd.
The act allows the introduction of an insolvency regime for colleges, which, according to FE Week, could for the first time allow them to go bust. In addition to this, it will extend the remit of the Institute for Apprenticeships (most notably to cover technical education) and allow Further Education (FE) providers to go into schools to promote vocational courses through an amendment introduced by Lord Baker and Baroness Morris.
Also known as the ‘Baker clause’, this mean that schools will have to ensure that a selection of education and training providers can access pupils ages 13 to 18. Lord Baker commented: “I think it’s generally agreed by both sides that this is an important bill, it’s a beneficial bill, it’s a major step forward in improving the state of education in our country. We should speed it to the statute book.”
The Technical and FE Act also gives Ofsted a duty to comment on the careers guidance provided to relevant students at the institution when inspecting FE providers.
Elsewhere, in the House of Commons an amendment that had previously been passed by the upper house was voted down. This amendment would have seen child benefit extended to apprentices, but opposers said it would involve a charge on public funds. In response to this, the shadow skills minister expressed his frustration. He said he was “quite angry that, as in so many other areas of FE, the words haven’t been matched by actions [with implementation of the bill], particularly on the issue of child benefit which still means that apprentices are treated as second-class citizens.”
Further to this, there was more rejection in the commons with Liberal Democrats’ education spokesperson, Lord Storey’s, suggestion to protect future learners from being left with huge debts but no qualifications.
When addressing the House of Lords, Lord Nash claimed the Act would be integral to the government’s ambitious reforms for creating a “world-class” technical education system.
He also said that the reforms would “help to ensure that technical education in our country provides everyone with the skills and opportunities they need to succeed and gain skilled employment on a long-term basis, and at the same time that they will serve the needs of our economy and reduce our skills gap."