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Recent changes

FE Colleges have recently been subject to a process of area reviews, designed to reduce duplication and increase efficiency which has resulted in college mergers, so there may be fewer colleges than when you last worked in the sector. There has also been a government priority on apprenticeship training with a corresponding increase in the amount of work based learning (often provided by ITPs). There has been an increasing emphasis on the extent to which the sector meets the needs of the wider economy, and phrases like “clear line of sight to work” are used to describe the manner in which learning in FE should connect to employment. Additionally there is a greater emphasis on Maths and English. A recent reform of funding for 16-19 learners means they all now pursue either apprenticeships or ‘study programmes’. Rather than being funded for individual qualifications (‘learning aims’), learners are now funded for a tailored package which includes:

  • substantial qualifications or work experience
  • Maths and English for students who have not achieved grade A*-C GCSE in these subjects
  • high quality work experience or work preparation
  • added value non-qualification activity that supports the students’ goals and is integrated into the study programme.


For more information re study programmes, see the Government website.


The Maths and English component means that all learners who lack a Maths and/or English GCSE must work towards gaining one and those who already have these, may be encouraged to further their Maths/English studies. There is now available an offer called Core Maths, which provides a level 3 Maths qualification short of A level. This means that there is a greater emphasis in all programmes on learners enhancing their Maths and English.

When study programmes were introduced, the sector indicated large shortages of teachers in both subjects, and so some staff have been redeployed to address this. Additionally, Ofsted examine Maths and English results as part of their inspection so this is a priority area for providers nowadays. The idea of Maths and English being everyone’s responsibility (ie all staff irrespective of their particular aspect of the curriculum) is again current.

Also the emphasis on ‘high quality’ work experience has diminished the usefulness of college based work place simulations and so actual work based placements are required.

If you are concerned about your personal Maths and/or English skills you might wish to look at the support available via the Education and Training Foundation.

The following is a list of topics we have compiled some notes on, each linking to another page

Information for Returners

Back to FE; back to the future!

What is the FE & Skills sector these days?

Recent Changes

Prevent and Safeguarding

Osted inspection


Range of learners

Teaching qualifications

Getting some experience

The Education and Training Foundation

The Society for Education and Training

Subject knowledge

Terms and Conditions