DfE funding changes confirmed

The Department for Education (DfE) has informed the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) that some of the sector support it provides through grants will finish on 31 March 2022. Specifically, the impacted ETF programmes are: Basic Skills, Essential Digital Skills, Practitioner Research, Advanced Practitioner and Outstanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment.

The DfE says it remains committed to supporting FE teachers and the vital work they do in improving achievement in English and maths, and will continue investing in CPD and research in 2022 and beyond. They will also be providing support in other ways, including through a wide range of grant and contract funding to the ETF, which will continue next year.

The decision will affect several elements of the ETF’s suite of support activities, including its maths and English offer and the Regional Specialist Leads that supported it. As part of our planning for the upcoming financial year, we are actively reviewing how we can build on the current offer and continue to support this very important area.

Since 2014, the DfE’s Basic Skills grant to the ETF has been of great benefit to the sector, providing maths and English CPD support to tens of thousands of colleagues across all types of FE settings. The support has included online and face-to-face training; one-to-one and group coaching; networks and events; and specialist advice and support. In 2021/22 alone, the ETF delivered more than 240 training events, ran more than 65 networking events, and reached more than 10,000 delegates. The grant has also supported the creation of popular resources and training opportunities such as: Functional Skills Mathematics Level 1, GCSE English Writing: CPD Training for Teachers, and Teaching Functional Skills Maths.

The support has been well-received by colleagues across the sector. They have praised the content and delivery of the courses and reported that the sharing of resources and ideas has helped build their knowledge and confidence, and has had a beneficial effect on their practice. Evaluations of the programme have identified clear evidence of a positive impact on learners, including improved attendance, enhanced performance and better results.

The DfE’s funding for the ETF’s Essential Digital Skills support for colleagues has enabled the creation of a wide range of training modules – over 17,000 of which have been completed. Almost 200 events have taken place across the country, bringing together teachers and trainers to share ideas and knowledge. The appointment of champions, a case study series and participation in an online Community of Practice has helped to share effective practice and encouraged peer-to-peer sharing.

The Essential Digital Skills resources that have been created and are hosted on the ETF’s Enhance digital teaching platform, alongside a host of other EdTech resources, will continue to be available until the end of March 2023. Since its launch in January 2019, Enhance has grown to feature 175 microlearning modules and has attracted more than 320,000 individual user sessions. More than 5,000 Essential Digital Skills badges, which recognise learning, have been awarded. The platform’s value has been recognised by winning inclusion in the ‘EdTech 50’ list of the best EdTech products in the UK.

The DfE grant that had supported the practitioner research projects is also not available for the 2022/23 year. Since 2009, more than 300 practitioners have completed the ETF’s Practitioner Research Programme, including the Research Development Fellowship. While over 3,000 practitioners have been directly involved with the Outstanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment (OTLA) programme since 2015. Similarly, funding for the Advanced Practitioner Programme, which has supported hundreds of individuals in recent years, is not being continued. The Advanced Practitioner programme helped attendees build confidence, grow their expertise, as well as develop their research literacy. The ETF is currently exploring options for these programmes, including potential alternative funding streams.

David Russell, Chief Executive of the ETF, said:

“The ETF would like to wholeheartedly thank everyone who has made such a success of Basic Skills-related CPD for FE practitioners over the last eight years. It has been a vital source of support, particularly while the sector tackled the challenge of implementing the GCSE resit policy, but it has also been so much more.

“Programmes such as the Advanced Practitioner Programme, the Outstanding Teaching Learning and Assessment Programme, and the Practitioner Research Programme have been transformational for many teachers and trainers. Teachers have told me personally how these programmes “rekindled their love of teaching”, helped elevate their professional development, and in some cases were the difference that kept them in the profession.

“It is both rare and excellent for programme support to last long enough to allow them to grow roots in the sector, and achieve sustainable, irreversible change in the levels of professionalism, collaboration and capacity amongst participants. This has certainly been the case here and the legacy of these programmes will live on strongly.

“We would like to thank everyone from colleagues in the DfE to our fantastic delivery partners who have been part of this successful journey. It is the ETF’s continuing mission to help practitioners in our sector find new ways to excel and grow, for the benefit of their learners.”

The Centres for Excellence in Maths programme is not affected by this announcement and will continue to be funded by DfE to March 2023.

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