Agenda item

Education, Learning and Skills Priorities



(Report by Mr R Gough, Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform, and Mr P Leeson, Corporate Director for Education, Learning and Skills)


(Mr P Cater, Leader of Kent County Council, was present for this item)


1.          Mr Gough introduced the report that set out the priorities for the Education Learning and Skills Directorate for 2013 to16 and highlighted that there would be significant focus on the following: 


·       Reducing the achievement gap figures for pupils from low income backgrounds, children in care and pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

·       Employability skills, particularly for post 16 year olds especially in English and Mathematics.

·       The most vulnerable learners with learning difficulties and disabilities

·       Improving the data on those Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).


2.          Mr Leeson advised that the improvements would be made through the delivery plans set out in the focused and targeted strategies such as the Schools Improvement Strategy, the SEND Strategy, the 14-24 Strategy, the Early Years and School Improvement Plans and the Education Commissioning Plan etc which were designed to have an impact on the quality of delivery to children and young people.  There also needed to be genuine partnerships with schools and post 16 education providers.  There was a lot of sharing to make this a reality on the ground.


3.          Mr Gough and Mr Leeson noted comments and responded to questions by Members, which included the following:


a)    Mr Leeson advised that there was little difference in Kent to a school being an academy or not in terms of how the local authority worked with them.  In terms of the raising of the participation age there were no legal sanctions of a young person who was not willing to participate.  There had been a rapid increase in the apprenticeship programme, which had been successful.  More employers wanted to employ an apprentice than there were apprentices coming forward for, there was a new training programme coming on line in September, the advice and guidance given on the options available by schools was improving, all of which needed to be expanded on to provide different quality pathways for young people which is what the 14-16 Strategy sets out. The participation rate was 89% of young people in training and learning post 16, the closing of this gap would continue.

b)    Mr Leeson stated that he considered that work had been undertaken to dispel at an administrative level and in practice in Kent that 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths were needed to start an apprenticeship, it was desirable and should not be a barrier.  Employers were looking for a good attitude and employability skills, which included the ability to organise themselves.  An element of the apprenticeship should include an element to improve the young person’s language and numeracy.  He advised that there were now more steps towards an apprenticeship which included the new training programme that came on line in September 2013.

c)     Mr Carter advised that young people not attaining the relevant qualifications at school had been a barrier in the past to achieve an apprenticeship.  He had spoken about these issues with the Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock.  There was agreement that the barriers need to be removed for those young people who had not achieved at school and who needed to get into the workplace.  Mr Carter pointed out that the legislation said that young people needed to be “working towards a level 2 qualification”.  Mr Carter suggested that this should be interpreted as broadly as possible.  For those young people with a disability there were supportive employment schemes that would cater for those unlikely to achieve a level 1 or 2 qualification which may lead to independent employment. Mr Carter considered that the training offered to young people pre apprenticeship should be short and sharp to get them onto the apprenticeship with a modest wage and training for them to reach their maximum potential.

d)    An opinion was expressed that the local authority had a duty to bridge the gap and encourage those young people that had missed the opportunity at school but want to start an apprenticeship to gain qualifications.


4.          RESOLVED that:-


a)         the responses to comments and questions by Members be noted; and


b)         the priorities set out in the Education Bold Steps 2013-16 Plan be noted.


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