Coronavirus update for customers

Read more

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.

Skip navigation

Where do we go after area review?

This year’s AoC conference quite rightly dealt with the issues of the day, such as area review, mergers, inadequate funding levels and the need for leadership in a time of great uncertainty.

But it also started to raise questions about what comes next and how the sector will approach the challenges and opportunities of the coming months and years.

There are three tectonic policy plates all moving at the same time: apprenticeships, technical education and changes in higher education – particularly Level 4 and Level 5. There is a fourth that is going to start when article 50 is triggered – the focus on how to increase productivity through upskilling, so we can compete outside the EU.

Amidst all this, where do we go after area review?

Colleges will have to understand how best to serve their communities and the priorities of the employers within their areas. In that respect there will be no universal answer. Each local area will have different needs and demands, to which colleges must align.

That said, the curriculum shopping list may look a little like this:

Apprenticeship levy

More employers will want to focus their training activity on apprenticeships, to allow them to reclaim their levy. We can also expect employer groups to try to fill those gaps on the list of approved apprenticeship standards which they see as high priority for their businesses.

Colleges will need to understand, from their local employers and LEP, what are the likely demands in their area. From this, they can work out which of the new standards they wish to provide and, where relevant, how they might migrate from the SASE apprenticeship frameworks they currently deliver. They will need to think about new curriculum design, materials, delivery methods and recruiting or re-training their teaching staff, as well as marketing and new pricing mechanisms.

Technical qualifications

The Sainsbury review and the government’s response – the Post-16 Skills Plan – together with the changes in HE and move towards Level 4 and 5, present a real opportunity to define FE’s core place in communities. In the medium term, the new technical education qualifications should come in around the end of the present parliament. Colleges need to start focusing on which areas of curriculum they want to deliver, then develop plans to align their provision.


For some employees, there is a need to raise the bar for those with inadequate English and maths. For others it will be what the CBI defined in 2007 as employability skills, such as communication, timekeeping, problem solving, teamwork, work ethic, flexibility and the ability to keep learning.

In certain sectors, employees will need to obtain a licence to practice outside an apprenticeship requirement.

Employers will also want to upskill existing employees into higher-level jobs, by improving their technical knowledge and use of technology, new materials, methods and equipment.

Managerial skills are another area that is crucial for driving up productivity. So we could expect employers to want to develop their existing managers’ skills in respect of benchmarking, business process re-engineering (BPR or 6Sigma), change management, performance management, project management and productivity improvement practice.

In addition, employers might want to develop managers’ foundation skills, such as commercial understanding, communication, creativity & innovation, finance, HR and personnel management as well as leadership, negotiation & influencing and personnel management.

It’s a big shopping list and individual colleges will not be able to do it all. But when colleges are trying to position themselves post- area review, the way they approach developing their future strategy and curriculum will determine whether they succeed or fail. There is a lot to play for. Where do we go after area review?

Read about NOCN endpoint assessment services.

This article originally appeared in the FE Week AoC Conference Supplement.

Ready for the Levy?

NOCN is offering free advice sessions for college leaders and managers on the apprenticeship reforms, if you would like to take advantage of this offer get in touch with Darren Howells, National Account Manager at email: or click this link.