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Vocational Education: Remote Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL9446, tabled on 21 October 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that training providers have struggled to offer remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic; and what steps they are taking to assist such providers.

Answered on

4 November 2020

Since March, the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills and department officials have worked closely with further education (FE) providers and their representative organisations to discuss the key issues facing training providers during the pandemic.

Provider returns to the department, surveys undertaken by sector organisations and qualitative feedback suggested that the vast majority of Education and Skills Funding Agency funded FE providers rapidly shifted to remote learning following the national restrictions introduced in March. A survey undertaken by the Association of Colleges in July 2020 found that 90% of colleges considered that all or the majority of students under 19 have continued their learning remotely in the summer term. For students over 19, the proportion was 74%. This survey can be found here:

In September, we required all FE providers to resume delivery on site so that students of all ages can benefit from their education and training in full. FE providers were also required to develop a strong contingency plan for remote education provision by the end of September to ensure that providers could rapidly shift to blended, or if necessary remote education should the need arise.

Support from the department to assist providers in delivering high quality remote learning includes:

  • 16 to 19 Bursary Funding which provides financial support to help students overcome specific financial barriers to participation in education (including for devices and connectivity support).
  • Amendments to the adult education budget (AEB) funding rules for the 2020/2021 academic year so that learner support funds can be used to purchase IT for students aged 19+. In areas where the AEB budget is devolved, mayoral authorities determine adult student support arrangements.
  • A professional development programme for teachers to develop their online teaching skills, provided by the Education and Training Foundation.
  • Peer-to-peer advice and training through the EdTech demonstrator programme which provides support for remote learning.
  • New grants for FE providers across England to provide additional training and support for mentors and coaches specialising in assisting teachers with remote education.