Further Education and Training
Information in this executive summary was correct as at July 2018.
Surrey County Council (SCC) works closely with schools, colleges, training providers and workplaces offering apprenticeships, traineeships and supported internships to ensure that sufficient provision exists to enable all young people age 16–19 (and up to 25 for some young people with special educational needs and disabilities) to engage in education and training. It is widely acknowledged that educational achievement is a helpful indicator of a young person’s wider health, wellbeing and social mobility. SCC is committed to supporting young people to participate in education, training and employment by ensuring further education and skills provision within Surrey enables young people to overcome barriers and equips them with the necessary knowledge, qualifications and skills to progress from education into the workforce.
Who’s at risk and why
It is recognised that attainment at age 16 is an important factor in securing participation, learning and achievement between the ages of 16 and 19, especially in Maths and English. Surrey residents are generally well qualified and the percentage of 19 year-olds qualified to Level 2 and Level 3 is well above the national average. However, Surrey’s overall good attainment and progression statistics mask the poor educational achievement and progress of vulnerable children and young people within Surrey. Young people qualified to level 3 by age 19 who are in receipt of free school meals (FSM) perform less well on average than their peers.
Eligibility for FSM is one of a number of statistical indicators of children and young people living in a challenging socio-economic and family environment or living within communities with a higher than average level of deprivation. It is also one of a number of Risk of NEET (not in education, employment or training) Indicators (RONI) collated by Surrey to inform strategic planning relating to the development of further education and skills provision within the county. Additional factors include, amongst others: attendance; achievement at Key Stage 2; special educational needs and disabilities (SEND); school exclusions and English as an additional language (EAL).
These RONI criteria do not provide a completely accurate mechanism for identifying those at risk and there are other factors which are likely to impact educational progress, such as being a teenage parent or having the responsibility of being a young carer.
The level of need in the population
The total number of 16 to 18 year-olds in Surrey is projected to remain static between 2018 and 2019, after which there will be steady growth. Surrey’s overall level of participation amongst 16 and 17 year-olds has remained above the national and regional averages for the last five years and this is not predicted to change. However, the proportion of young people participating in apprenticeships is below the national average and vulnerable groups continue to not perform as well as their peers.
Some specific vulnerable groups within Surrey are known to perform less well than their peers. 15.7% of Surrey young people with an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan or Statement of Special Educational Needs (SSEN) are qualified to Level 2 (including maths and English) and 14.4% to Level 3, compared to 85.5% and 71.4% respectively for those without SEND. This is a difference of 69.8% at Level 2 and 57% at Level 3, both of which are above the national average.
An inequality gap in attainment by age 19 is also seen amongst those in Surrey claiming FSM, compared to their peers. At both Level 2 (including and excluding English and maths) and Level 3, the attainment gap is greater than that seen nationally.
Care leavers who remain with their former foster carer are more likely to participate in education, employment or training (86%) than those in supported accommodation (55%) or living independently (66%). Further still, the proportion of Surrey care leavers entering higher education (4%) is below the national average (6%).
Services in relation to need
There are thirty-one School Sixth Forms (SSF), five Sixth Form Colleges (SFC), four General Further Education Colleges (GFEC), three Independent Learning Providers (ILP), one Local Authority District Council (LADC), one Higher Education Institution (HEI), nine Special Schools and two Special Post-16 Institutions (SPI) based in Surrey and currently delivering government funded further education. There are also a number of apprenticeship opportunities available within Surrey which are delivered by organisations and those operating on a national or regional basis (some of which are from local hubs). Responsibility for the performance of these education and training providers rests with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), as the sponsor and funding body, and Ofsted, as the arbiter of quality. Most providers in Surrey offer tailored programmes or are able to access additional resources for learners aged 16 to 19 (or up to 25 for those with an EHC plan) to support those who are disadvantaged.
In 2012, SCC commissioned a preventative service known as Year 11-12 Transition. The initiative provides mentoring supporting to young people identified, using the RONI criteria, as the most at risk of becoming NEET. Mentors provide a range of one-to-one support, advice and guidance from the January of Year 11 to the February of Year 12; aimed at enabling young people to successfully transition to and sustain appropriate education, training or employment destinations. For those young people who do not make a successful transition or subsequently withdraw from provision before the age of 18, Surrey’s Family Service offers case- management to support them back into education, employment or training.
Unmet needs and service gaps
Overall, the availability of local detailed data relating to post-16 participation, attainment and progression is inconsistent and of varying quality. In order to identify and monitor the educational attainment and progression of target groups successfully, SCC must seek to improve its information gathering. However, it has been recognised that:
- The availability of flexible further education (FE) provision and training opportunities, particularly those which meet the needs of NEET young people, needs to be further developed.
- The quality and impartiality of careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) accessed by young people across Surrey varies widely and requires improvement.
- Transport costs can be a barrier to participation, particularly for vulnerable groups of learners undertaking an apprenticeship.
- There is a need to increase the delivery of apprenticeships and other work-focused programmes to meet the needs of Surrey businesses and address the challenges employers face in recruiting and retaining high quality staff.
For those young people who do become NEET, a structured re-engagement programme, as outlined within statutory guidance, has been identified as an effective mechanism for positive engagement.
Support from the Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Networks (YAANs), whose aims is to promote apprenticeships through peer reference and modelling, has proved beneficial to young people and their families.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has effectively promoted collaborative approaches to the delivery of outreach activities to widen participation in higher education (HE) and funds targeted provision across England.
Within Surrey, the Department for Education (DfE) has identified Guildford College of Further and Higher Education’s delivery of careers guidance as an example of good practice.
Recommendations for Commissioning
- Establish a consistent and robust FE and skills data-set which can be analysed, monitored and used effectively to inform commissioning strategies.
- Continue to seek opportunities to secure additional funding and resources to increase capacity to deliver more flexible provision and progression, particularly for vulnerable groups of young people.
- Establish an effective structure to respond to and support current and future skills and employment initiatives, working collaboratively with relevant partners and stakeholders to ensure skills provision meets the need of the area’s businesses.
- Work closely with education and training providers and key partners to promote engagement and support the development of effective, impartial CEIAG.
- Work closely with key partners and education and training providers to support an increase in the delivery of apprenticeships.
The poor educational attainment and progress of vulnerable children and young people within Surrey is masked by the overall high performance across the county. For example, when looking at the proportion of young people qualified to level 3 by age 19, those in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM) perform less well on average than their peers; the difference being greater in Surrey compared to the national average. This is also the case for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), particularly those with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or Statement of Special Educational Needs (SSEN). A similar picture is seen for those qualified to level 2 by age 19.
It is widely acknowledged that educational achievement is a helpful indicator of a young person’s wider health and wellbeing. Surrey County Council is committed to supporting young people to participate in education, training and employment (1). In order to achieve this, further education and skills provision within Surrey must ensure that all young people are not only equipped with the necessary knowledge, attitudes and skills to join the workforce but are able to overcome barriers which may restrict their progress to employment (2).
This chapter will explore in detail young people with identified characteristics who, on average, perform less well than their peers within further education and the inter-relationships between characteristics, including wider health and wellbeing. Both educational attainment and progression will be considered and, where possible, the impact of the type of pathway and provision available locally will be compared. In addition, demographic projections across the county will be utilised to contextualise how the local authority discharges its statutory duties, under Raising of the Participation Age (RPA) legislation, to ensure that there is sufficient provision to allow for all young people aged 16-18 to participate in education, training or employment and to actively encourage young people to do so.
This chapter will reflect upon the prior attainment of young people at the point at which they progress to further education and the impact this has on subsequent attainment and progression. Further information on the educational achievement and progress of statutory school aged children (ages 5-16) can be found within the Education & Skills JSNA Chapter.
Educational attainment and progress of young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities are referenced within this chapter. However, detailed analysis of the levels of need across the county and associated services are available within the JSNA Chapter: Children and young people with Additional Needs.
The impact of young people’s wellbeing and mental health on social mobility will be explored within the Emotional Wellbeing and Health JSNA Chapter.
Who’s at risk and why?
Young people are presented with a range of options when they leave secondary school at 16. Those progressing to full-time education, apprenticeships or part-time employment/volunteering with accredited training will be meeting their duty to participate under RPA. Those choosing to participate in employment or volunteering without accredited training will not be meeting this duty. However, it is recognised that they will be gaining valuable skills and experience within the workplace. They may, however, fall behind their peers in later life as they could lack the necessary qualifications to enable them to progress in their career. Some may experience barriers that prevent them from participating in any form of education, training or employment at all.
Through analysis of data relating to young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and identified characteristics that are considered to impact the likelihood of becoming NEET post-16, Surrey County Council developed a Risk of NEET Indicator (RONI) (3). The factors used are as follows:
- Looked After by Surrey County Council
- Young offender
- Permanent exclusion from school
- Attendance less than 80%
- School Action Plus, Special Educational Needs Statement/EHCP and School Action
- Fixed-Term Exclusion from School
- Eligible for FSM
- English as an additional language (EAL)
- Did not achieve level 4 English and Maths at Key Stage 2
- Lives in an area in the top 30% of the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Indices (IDACI)
- A member of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community.
Those who have one or more primary risk factors, or three or more secondary risk factors, are considered to be at risk of becoming NEET.
These measurable factors do not provide a completely accurate mechanism of identifying those at risk. Other factors that are likely to impact educational progress include:
- teenage parents or pregnancy;
- young carers;
- further member of the GRT community;
- family issues, like bereavement or parental separation;
- substance misuse issues;
- mental health issues; and
- other health issues.
Evidence suggests that young people experiencing the identified risk factors above are likely to perform less well than their peers at Key Stage 4 (KS4), which can restrict their opportunities for progression to further education and training. Those who do make a successful transition at 16 to education, training or employment may not progress at the same rate as their peers and subsequently achieve lower attainment levels by the time they reach the age at which government funded education traditionally ceases.
It is possible to broadly group the factors above according to Maslow’s (1943, 1954) hierarchy of needs in order to better understand the impact they have on learning. The model enables us to identify how circumstances or characteristics may affect an individual’s motivation, priorities and capacity to manage multiple demands at any given time (4).
Income deprivation and circumstances resulting in a young person being eligible for FSM are key factors affecting the physiological needs of an individual. Basic needs such as hunger, clothing and sleep are fundamental to successful performance, not just within education but also in day-to-day living. For example, sleep deprivation is known to affect memory (5). Nutrition is also known to play a part in memory (6) but more noticeably it significantly impacts concentration and motivation.
Once physiological needs are met, the priority becomes ensuring safety and security, largely influenced by a young person’s home environment. A recent study (7) identified that the stability of a family home is the greatest influence on educational achievement, not the structure. Children in care, members of the GRT community, teenage parents, young carers and those experiencing family issues, like bereavement or parental separation, are all characteristics often associated with potential instability and inconsistency at home.
Home and family also facilitate a sense of love and belonging: the next level of need within Maslow’s hierarchy. It does, however, extend beyond this to include friendships and social interaction; something that education and employment environments harbour. Low attendance, exclusions and having EAL can cause young people to feel isolated. They may lack interaction with their peers, which can in turn impact their self-esteem: a need that must be satisfied to achieve potential. This can manifest as mental health issues or some individuals may turn to substance misuse as a form of escape.
For many of these factors, the level of impact they have on education achievement and progress may be modifiable through the provision of intervention and support services. That is not to say that the root cause of a potential barrier can be removed completely. With regards to those with SEND, the scale of limitations relating to an individual’s education can vary greatly, spanning a number of levels of Maslow’s hierarchy.
The type of provision young people choose to participate in or that is accessible to them can also play a part in their progress and attainment post-16 or be influenced by their circumstances. It has been identified that students from poorer areas who choose to continue in full-time education after secondary school are more likely to participate at a GFE college than a SFC or SSF (8).
The level of need in the population
The total number of 16 to 18 year-olds in Surrey is projected to remain static between 2018 and 2019, after which there will be steady growth. Overall, there is projected to be growth of 7,600 between 2018 and 2026, which represents just under 19% of the 2018 cohort (Figure 1). There are increases predicted in all areas, with the smallest being in Mole Valley and Surrey Heath. The expectation is that the growth in year 12 learners will be 3,457 across the county, with the largest growth being in Reigate and Banstead, Woking and Waverley (9).
Figure 1: Change in total 16-18 population (10) and Year 12 numbers from 2018 to 2026 (11)
Although Surrey’s overall participation amongst 16 and 17 year-olds has remained above the national and regional averages for the last four years (Figure 2) (12), there are certain groups performing less well and types of destinations that are not as widely taken up.
Figure 2: Total rate of participation for 16 and 17 year olds
Overall participation amongst 16 year-olds is higher than that of those aged 17 (94.2% compared to 90.2% respectively), suggesting that a proportion of young people are not sustaining the destinations to which they progress at 16.
Despite consistent improvement in recent years, the proportion of Surrey young people participating in apprenticeships is below the national average (5.4% compared to 6.7%). In comparison, the proportion of Surrey young people aged 16 and 17 participating in employment without accredited training, which does not enable them to meet their duty to participate, is above the national and regional averages (0.8% and 1.1% respectively) at 2.7%.
Between 2014 and 2015, the proportion of young people with SEND continuing in education and training increased significantly, from below the national average (80.8% compared to 86.1%), by 13.1 percentage points; bringing the total to 93.9% and subsequently exceeding the national average of 87.3% for December 2015 (12). Performance in 2016 declined to 87%, just below the national average of 87.5%. Despite this the overall increase between 2014 and 2016 demonstrates the positive steps made by SCC to improving outcomes for this cohort. However, attainment and progress continues to be an area for improvement.
The gap between Surrey young people with SEND and those without who are qualified to Level 3 by the age of 19 is above the national and regional averages, as well as that of Surrey’s statistical neighbours (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Proportion of 19 year olds qualified to Level 3 (13)
A similar picture is seen when comparing those qualified to Level 2 (including English and Maths) by the age of 19 (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Proportion of 19 year olds qualified to Level 2 (Inc. English & Maths) (13)
During the academic year 2016/17 the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) funded 779 learners with an EHC plan. Reigate & Banstead had the highest proportion of Surrey young people with an EHCP participating in further education (Figure 5).
Figure 5: ESFA funded learners with an EHCP, by borough (14)
Free School Meals
Although Surrey has a lower overall percentage of pupils in receipt of FSM (6.1%) compared to the South East region (8.1%) and nationally (12.4%) (15), they perform, on average, less well than their peers in relation to the achievement of Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications by age 19. The inequality gap in the achievement of Level 2 (including and excluding English and Maths) and Level 3 by the age of 19 when comparing those eligible for FSM and those not is greater within Surrey than nationally (Figure 6) (15).
Figure 6: Inequality gap in qualification achievement by the age of 19, by level
The majority of those claiming FSM within further education are studying at Level 1 or Entry Level (Figure 7), meaning that the likelihood of them progressing to Level 3, or in some cases Level 2, by the age of 19, when government funded education ceases, is low.
Figure 7: Proportions of Surrey students, by level, claiming FSM14 (2016/17)
This in turn impacts on progression to higher education (HE), with on average only 22% of Surrey young people who claimed FSM entering HE, compared to 44% of those who did not (16) . This inequality gap is greater compared to national performance levels.
Looked After Children and Care Leavers
The average KS4 Attainment 8 score for Looked After Children (LAC) was only 22.9%, compared to 50% across Surrey as a whole. This lack of progress at KS4 for the majority of LAC reduces the likelihood that they will achieve a Level 3 qualification by the age of 19.
Improvements can be seen in the proportion of care leavers who were NEET, decreasing from 39% to 33% within Surrey between 2016 and 2017, compared to 40% to 41% nationally (17). A deep dive of care leavers ‘Staying Put’ with their former foster carers found that 86% were participating in education, training or employment (PETE) (18). This compares with 55% of care leavers in supported accommodation and 66% of care leavers in independent living being in participation. The proportion of Surrey care leavers entering HE is however slightly below the national average (4% compared to 6% respectively).
English as an Additional Language
Although the proportion of Surrey pupils whose first language is other than English is below that nationally and regionally, it has steadily increased over the past nine years, as mirrored across the country (15). Despite this, we saw a decline in the number of students enrolled on to English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) course in 2016/17 compared to previous years (Figure 8) (19).
Figure 8: Percentage of secondary pupils whose first language is other than English compared to number of ESFA funded ESOL learners
Services in relation to need
Using estimates for the number of pupils requiring a Year 11 secondary school place in each of the eleven Surrey boroughs, taken from the School Organisation Plan and updated information from the Edge-ucate system, it is possible to project the likely change in demand for places in Year 12. Consideration is also given to the projected changes in population numbers for all 16-18 year olds within Surrey and surrounding Local Authorities, drawing on Office for National Statistics (ONS) core data. Where possible, these projections are constrained for planned and predicted housing developments. This process allows us to identify gaps in provision where overall capacity is or is likely to become an issue.
There are 31 School Sixth Forms (SSF), 5 Sixth Form Colleges (SFC), 4 General Further Education Colleges (GFEC), 3 Independent Learning Providers (ILP), 1 Local Authority District Council (LADC), 1 Higher Education Institution (HEI), 9 Special Schools and 2 Special Post-16 Institutions (SPI) based in Surrey and delivering ESFA funded further education. Some have a single campus, while others have multiple delivery sites. A number of providers in neighbouring local authorities are also accessible to Surrey residents. In addition, there are a number of apprenticeship opportunities within Surrey delivered by organisations whose headquarters are in other parts of the country but who operate on a national/regional basis or from local hubs. Availability of apprenticeship opportunities is constantly changing according to employer needs, making it difficult to project coverage across the county. The approach with regards to apprenticeship capacity and availability therefore relies on the monitoring of vacancies, uptake and labour market projections, in partnership with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Employers.
Many of our post-16 providers already have capacity to accept additional learners within their current funding allocations. However, should cases of significant in-year growth occur which cannot be met, there is scope to submit business cases on the basis of gaps in Local Authority Areas.
It is important to note that funding for further education and training is provided directly by the ESFA to post-16 education and training providers. As such, interventions and services to support educational attainment and progression are largely governed by the institutions themselves, supported by Surrey County Council to establish new provision and identify needs where appropriate. For further education and skills providers, the responsibility for performance sits with the ESFA, as the sponsor and funding body, and Ofsted, as the arbiter of quality. As at February 2018, 84% of Surrey’s further education and skills providers were judged to be good or outstanding, compared to 82% nationally (19). In addition, as at March 2018, 90 % of Surrey’s state funded schools that have a sixth form were judged to be good or outstanding, compared to 66% nationally (20).
Many providers in Surrey offer tailored programmes or are able to access additional resources for learners aged 16 to 19 (or up to 25 for those with an EHC plan) to support those who are disadvantaged. For example:
- Full-time ESOL courses are offered at all four of our GFE colleges and one Sixth-Form College as well as a range of out-of-county providers accessible to those within Surrey.
- Some learners may be eligible for a 16 to 19 Bursary (21). Care Leavers, those on Income Support or Universal Credit, in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), along with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit, could receive up to £1,200 via the 16-19 Bursary to contribute towards the costs of studying full-time. A discretionary bursary may be available to other learners, dependent on individual circumstances, such as family income and the availability of funds.
- FSM have been available within SSFs for a number of years. This provision was extended to include those participating at colleges and training providers in 2014/15. The rate of funding is equivalent to £2.41 per student per meal (22) .
- For learners with an EHC plan who require additional support within the learning environment, providers may seek to access High Needs Student (HNS) funding through their home council where the level of need exceeds that which can be accommodated within standard levels of ESFA funding received directly.
Where Surrey identifies a need that cannot be met through central government funding, bespoke projects or services may be developed to add value to existing provision within our school sixth-forms, colleges and training providers.
Surrey County Council is committed to ensuring that a lack of access to appropriate, affordable transport does not prevent young people from participating in FE. In order to minimise the risk of this, young people studying full-time can take advantage of the Surrey Student Fare Card Scheme which enables individuals to travel at a reduced fare on public transport for their journey to and from school/college, providing the journey starts and/or ends within Surrey. Additional support is available for disadvantaged learners (23) and those with SEND (24).
Between 2012 and 2015, 1,775 young people who were deemed to be at risk of becoming NEET were prevented from doing so through the Year 11 to 12 Transition commission. The saving to the Council was an estimated £645,975, based on the average resources needed to re-engage NEET young people. This preventative service was designed to facilitate transition to education, training or employment by providing assistance to young people in year 11 of secondary school, identified as at risk of becoming NEET at the end of their compulsory education, to prepare them for their chosen progression pathway. The service provides one-to-one support to identify the right progression route to meet individual needs and aspirations. This could include guidance and assistance with making applications for college or employment, attending interviews, dealing with unexpected GCSE results or finding an Apprenticeship. The service was recommissioned in 2016 at an estimated value of £1.578m – £394,387 over four years. The needs of the individuals supported vary greatly, spanning the full range of RONI criteria. The feedback from those who do accept support, including their families, is however overwhelmingly positive:
“Thank you so much for believing in me when nobody else would. You have helped me so much with my education that I thought would never happen”.
(Young person supported by Year 11-12 Transition Mentor, 2017)
For those young people who are identified as NEET aged 16 or 17, Surrey’s Family Service offers case management to support them to reengage in education, employment or training. A study by York University (25) calculated the average life-time resource cost of an individual not being in education, employment or training between the ages of 16 and 18 as £104,300. Surrey County Council estimates the average direct cost of providing case management support to a NEET young person as £363.93. By intervening quickly at the point at which a young person becomes NEET, not only can costs be reduced but also the lasting impact of negative outcomes relating to educational progression can be minimised, particularly with regards to mental health. Case workers adopt a whole family approach to addressing barriers preventing participation. Activities facilitated may include one-to-one support sessions or access to a range of group or community-based activities to develop skills and knowledge in preparation for employment. The Family Service has developed partnerships with a range of community organisations and employers to develop opportunities for supported work experience for vulnerable young people which assists in progression towards employment or a return to education.
In line with Surrey’s duty to enable, assist and encourage young people to participate in education and training up to the age of 18, we facilitate an annual careers event. The objective of this is to provide young people with information on a wide range of post-16 opportunities across Surrey, including education and employment, to both inspire and engage them. The event targets secondary school age students throughout the day and has in previous years been open to the general public in the early evening. We encourage services supporting vulnerable young people to promote this opportunity to those they engage with and, where possible, attend with them. Recent developments have resulted in a new partnership being formed between Surrey County Council and Surrey University to deliver this event, in recognition of the fact that both organisations were previously delivering similar events separately. The hope is that this will facilitate a more diverse and sustainable offer and deliver financial savings for both parties.
Further work undertaken to support the delivery of advice and guidance relating to progression to further education or training is achieved through a website which is owned and facilitated by the Council’s Learning and Skills team: www.careersadviceinsurrey.co.uk. The purpose of this site is to provide young people, families and practitioners with a brief overview of the range of pathways available and information about local opportunities and act as a sign-post to additional information and resources where appropriate. A recent addition to this website is the Careers Explorer tool which enables users to explore labour market information for the South East Region, search job and apprenticeship vacancies and learn about different occupations. Additional communications channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are used to raise awareness of the facility amongst residents. Where users are unable to find the necessary information or assistance they are seeking through this facility they also have the option of contacting the CFL Learning & Skills Commissioning team directly ([email protected]) and/or using the Frequently Asked Questions option. The team is able to support individuals who may have specific needs that require bespoke solutions to navigate policy, legislation, funding and information in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for the young person.
Unmet needs and service gaps
A significant challenge in the development of further education and training opportunities for all young people is the availability of flexible provision that meets the needs of NEET young people. This may be in relation to their aspirations and/or prior attainment but, more often than not, it relates to rigidity of the academic calendar. Many young people who become NEET that aspire to and meet the requirements to return to further education often have to wait until the next available enrolment period. In the interim they may have opportunities to engage in valuable development opportunities, such as work experience but it can be demotivating if this is either not possible or it doesn’t align with their aspirations. Due to recent changes relating to government funding for further education there are limitations as to how flexible providers are able to be. There are also challenges in facilitating additional support for learners performing less well, due to the limited funding and resources available.
The quality and impartiality of the CEIAG accessed by young people across Surrey varies due to a fragmented system: the resulting risk being that some disadvantaged young people may not be receiving an offer of the same quality as their peers in a different location. This could contribute to widening the attainment and progression gap in some areas. There is currently a lack of data to quantify the potential impact this has on target cohorts.
The Surrey Area Review (26) identified that a potential barrier to further increasing the number of apprenticeship starts within Surrey was the volume and breadth of opportunities available, in particular higher and degree level apprenticeships. Developments in this area would need to be complemented by consistent, high quality CEIAG that recognises apprenticeships as being of equal value to the traditional route to university. In addition, the Council’s concessionary fares are only available to Surrey learners studying full-time. Those participating in an apprenticeship are subject to the ever increasing full cost of public transport. Feedback received from practitioners suggests that the cost of transport compared to the wage rate received on an apprenticeship often result in this option not being viable for a young person unless they benefit from financial support from their family. This is further exacerbated by the fact that Child Benefit does not apply to those on apprenticeships. The resulting impact is likely to be that young people are encouraged to stay on in full-time further education, irrespective of their aspirations and what the most appropriate pathway may be, thus potentially increasing the likelihood that they will drop-out.
Overall, the availability of local detailed data relating to post-16 participation, attainment and progression is inconsistent and of varying quality. In order to monitor the educational attainment and progression of target groups successfully and measure the impact of interventions implemented, Surrey County Council must seek to improve its information gathering relating to further education and skills.
For those young people who do become NEET it can be difficult to identify appropriate opportunities to return to education or employment. This may be due to the nature of the barriers being faced by the individual and the impact they have on their ability or motivation to participate or in some cases it may be due to the availability of opportunities, either in terms of geography, time of year or funding. In such cases, structured re-engagement, as outlined within statutory guidance, has been identified as an effective mechanism of positive engagement (27).
Many areas across England benefit from the support of Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Networks (YAANs), whose aim is to promote apprenticeships to young people. The ESFA commissioned research to explore the various ways in which existing YAANs currently operate and the impact they have in order to roll out a national framework that will enable greater coverage across the country (28). The North West YAAN has been a key stakeholder in the development of the national YAAN agenda and is believed to be one of the first networks of its kind and also one of the largest.
The Office for Students promotes and supports collaborative approaches to the delivery of outreach activities to widen participation in HE and funds targeted provision across England. This includes the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) (29). Within Surrey this is delivered through the Higher Education Outreach Network (http://www.heon.org.uk).
Amongst others, the Department for Education (DfE) identified Guildford College of Further and Higher Education as a good example of the delivery of careers guidance, through its development of activities with inspiring employers (30). The initiative sought to broaden students’ views in relation to career opportunities.
Recommendations for Commissioning
In partnership with the LEPs, Enterprise M3 and Coast to Capital, SCC must establish a robust structure to respond to the recommendations outlined within the Surrey Area Review. Specific areas of focus in relation to facilitating improved attainment and progression within FE for vulnerable young people include:
- Collaboration on the development of an area-wide approach to the delivery of an improved CEIAG offer.
- Continuing development of provision for learners with high levels of SEND.
- Ensuring a continued link between curriculum planning and the local economy.
The Surrey Employment and Skills Board has been identified as a key body to support the development of a strategy to more effectively engage employers and utilise labour market information in relation to delivering CEIAG and developing employer-led curricula. The 14-19 Partnership Board will also be a key stakeholder, providing expert insight into the FE provider market and scrutinising performance data.
For the local authority to meets its duty to ensure that sufficient education, training or employment opportunities are available to young people aged 16-18, demographic growth must be monitored. Doing so will inform commissioning strategies focused on accommodating growth and ensuring a sustainable, high quality provision within Surrey. Although activity to this effect does currently take place, it would benefit from being further developed to be more robust and consistent, whilst also providing clarity to service users and the provider market as to how this is undertaken. This will enable us to engage more effectively with users and stakeholders in order that emerging needs are identified more efficiently.
Growth in the number of young people progressing to apprenticeships continues to be a key priority within Surrey. Working with key partners, SCC aims to ensure that local businesses have the necessary knowledge to plan effectively for their future workforce. This may include support in relation to workforce planning and/or advice and guidance relating to apprenticeship recruitment and retention. Alongside this, it is important to ensure that young people take labour market projections into consideration in their decision-making regarding careers, so as to manage expectations in line with their aspirations. Working closely with education and training providers as well as wider children and young people’s services we aim, as part of the wider employer engagement and CEIAG development, to ensure both employers and young people have an improved understanding of the labour market in order to minimise skills gaps. Apprenticeships will play a significant part in these developments, particularly in light of the increasing availability of higher and degree apprenticeships. This activity will be further developed through ongoing partnerships with Surrey’s HE providers to promote the range of pathways into HE outside of the traditional university route, as well as benefitting from the establishment of a YAAN within Surrey. Where specific barriers to apprenticeship recruitment are identified, through further research and analysis, exploration of options to facilitate services which enable all young people to participate in apprenticeships should they so wish should be undertaken.
SCC must also continue to seek opportunities to secure additional funding and resources to increase capacity to deliver more flexible provision for NEET young people and provide additional support to those performing less well in education or training.
A fundamental requirement in order to facilitate future commissioning and monitor performance is the establishment of robust systems to collate and analyse further education and skills data. This will enable us to identify gaps and emerging needs more effectively. A thorough review of existing data relating to FE should be undertaken; gathering, maintaining and analysing the scope to further improve efficiency, quality and accuracy against service needs.
- Frank Offer, Head of Market Strategy, Surrey County Council
- Dee Turvill, Commissioning Manager – Learning & Skills, Surrey County Council
- Mary-Jane Newell, Commissioning Manager – Learning & Skills, Surrey County Council
- Gemma Rolph, Commissioning Officer – Learning & Skills, Surrey County Council
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10. Forecasts created using POPGROUP population forecasting model, based on assumptions of fertility, mortality, migration and dwelling formation from ONS/DCLG 2014 based projections, constrained to expected housing development provided by Districts and Boroughs for the Surrey Infrastructure Study May 2017.
11. Data based on ONS 2014 mid-year population projections and updated information from the Edge-ucate system
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24. Surrey County Council (2018) Travel Assistance Policy for Children and Young People with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SSEN): 0-25 years. Available at: https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/documents/s29807/Item%2007%20-%20Annex%201%20Pre-16%20policy.pdf
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