Coronavirus update for customers

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Coronavirus update for customers

NOCN Group offers a wide range of services including regulated qualifications, EPA for apprenticeships, Job Cards in construction, Access to HE Diplomas, bespoke accreditation, and educational and skills support training.

As you will be aware the government imposed a third national lockdown from Tuesday 5th January 2021. You will find out more operational detail on the implications for each of these services through the following links:

Business Development
Regulated Qualifications
EPA for Apprenticeships
Job Cards in construction (CPCS)
One Awards

Please note that NOCN Group will be following the guidance issued by the ESFA, IfATE, Ofqual, CCEA Regulation, QAA, and Qualifications Wales, and will update our customers as things change.

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the impact on your centre, apprentices or learners please contact us on or 0300 999 1177.

Further information:

Letter from Gavin Williamson CBE MP to Simon Lebus

Letter from Simon Lebus to Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

DfE and Ofqual have launched two consultations (15th January):

GCSE, AS and A Level awarding in summer 2021

Alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other generals in 2021

Using Xbox to Access Online Learning

It is possible for learners to access their online work from home using a gaming console. For guidance on how to do this please download the document here.

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NOCN response to Sainsbury Technical Education Review

The Sainsbury Review on 16-19 technical education has far-reaching implications for the education and skills sector. Education and training providers generally agree with the thrust of the report which seeks parity of prestige and opportunity between academic and vocational education.

But there are reservations. For example, the proposal to create what are essentially monopolies to deliver qualifications for the proposed 15 new sectors could undermine innovation, quality and value.

Here is what NOCN MD Graham Hasting-Evans has to say:

“NOCN supports the idea of providing young people with options which provides them with an educational and skills development programme focused on key sectors in the economy. This approach has been available in other countries for some time, including those in Northern Europe.

However, we believe that these ‘pathways’ must have the full support of employers to avoid what happened with the 14-19 Diplomas. There also needs to be clear linkage between this proposed route and the reform of apprenticeships. They must be compatible. The other suggestion set out in the proposal to set up monopoly suppliers is just too risky for something so important as the skills and knowledge of our young people and the future strength of our economy.”

The skills minister has already stated that the government will implement the recommendation in full, but qualified this by adding ‘where it is possible within current budget constraints’ – so the reality on the ground may well be different to the ideal model proposed by the report.

For those of you who haven’t had chance to read the full report , here is a summary:

  1. 15 sector routes/pathways - these are different to our current sectors and mix ‘sectors’ on the basis of common training requirements rather than traditional industry based sectors e.g. current Health & Social Care now becomes Health & Science (which includes laboratory technical currently in ‘Life & Science Industries’ and a separate pathway for Social Care which includes the probation services (previously in Justice)
  2. Two modes of learning - Vocational - employment-based (typically an apprenticeship) and Academic - college-based.
  3. Employer-designed standards at the heart.
  4. Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) in charge - its remit expands to encompass all technical education at levels 2 to 5.
  5. Professionals to advise IfA - panels of professionals to advise on the knowledge, skills and behaviours to be acquired for the standards in each route and on suitable assessment strategies.
  6. From market to monopoly - Government moves away from the current awarding organisation market model, where qualifications which deliver similar but different outcomes compete with one another, and instead adopts a licensing approach. Any technical education qualification at levels 2 and 3 should be offered and awarded by a single body or consortium, under a licence covering a fixed period of time following an open competition.
  7. Key date: October 2017 Content - IfA and employers/professional panels start work on defining the content needed in each of the 15 pathways
  8. Key date: October 2018 Procurement - procurement begins for AAO/AOs or Others to win the licences for awarding IfA qualifications.
  9. One recognised certificate for each route – for both employment-based and college-based technical education at levels 2 and 3, there should be a single, nationally recognised certificate for each technical education route
  10. Only IfA approved qualifications receive public funding - Government restricts public subsidy for college-based technical education to that leading to qualifications approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships.
  11. College routes begin with two-year programme for 16-18’s, including reformed Functional Skills English and Maths.
  12. Guaranteed high-quality, structured work placement for every 16-18-year-old student following a two-year college-based technical education programme.
  13. Transition year (and/or Traineeship) for Individuals not ready to access a technical education route aged 16 (or older if their education has been delayed) to help them prepare for further study or employment.
  14. Improvements in careers advice.
  15. Restricting funding to high quality providers – for those colleges and training providers which meet clear criteria of quality, stability and an ability to maintain up-to-date equipment and infrastructure.