Keegan: FE White Paper to offer 'vision' for sector -Tes

Exclusive: Planned reforms of the further education sector expected 'later this year', Gillian Keegan tells Tes

A White Paper outlining significant policy changes for the further education sector is set to be revealed later this year, Tes can reveal.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan said the paper was expected to be published “at some time this year”, although no firm date had been set. However, the project could face delays due to government efforts being focused on tackling the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking after the publication of chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget, Ms Keegan refused to speculate about its contents. However, Tes understands the document is expected to focus on four "pillars": funding, qualifications, workforce and careers. Proposals that have been discussed by officials include a mechanism for bringing failing colleges under state control, and giving Ofqual greater powers to decide which qualifications should stop receiving government funding.

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“A vision – that is what it should have," Ms Keegan said. "It should have a vision for what ‘good’ looks like, where we want to get to and a plan for how we get there.

'No ideology' on college control

"It is a huge opportunity, because from what I understand, and certainly speaking to my own [local] college in Chichester, you are kind of pushing at an open door. [FE providers] want exactly the same as we want – there is a completely shared objective with the sector, a completely shared objective with employers. 

"Whether it is an apprenticeship route or a T-level route, there is a completely shared objective, which is to help young people have skills that better match the workplace they are heading for. The way I have always thought about it is that this is career-led study, instead of academic-led study – and I am a huge fan of career-led study.”

The minister added that she had “no ideology” on colleges being placed under state control. “I never really look at what is the right model in terms of control. I don’t have any ideology. The key thing is to be able to get the investment to the right place, create the right incentives, make sure the funding is adequate enough, and most importantly that we get the outcomes that young people and older people deserve.”

By Julia Belgutay & Stephen Exley -