As new T-levels are developed and the number of apprenticeships rises every year, it becomes increasingly important that all young people get a full understanding of all the options available to them.
From 2 January 2018, all maintained schools and academies will be required to ensure there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access pupils, for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships. The legislation will create an obligation on schools to publish a policy statement setting out the circumstances in which a provider will be allowed access to pupils in years eight to 13, and to ensure the policy is followed.
The new law was introduced as part of the Technical and Further Education Act 2017 and is intended to ensure all pupils are aware of all routes to higher skills and into the workplace. Many schools already provide good information on technical options and apprenticeships, but this legislation aims to ensure a more consistent approach. By hearing directly from providers, young people can learn more about opportunities for education and training outside of school before making crucial choices about their future options.
How will the new law operate?
Schools will be expected to grant access to providers who offer approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships at age 14, 16 and 18: university technical colleges, studio schools, apprenticeship providers and further education providers. The legislation focuses specifically on technical education, but schools will also want to provide information on academic options and incorporate visits from universities, local sixth form colleges or other providers as appropriate.
What should schools do to prepare?
The Department for Education (DfE) will publish further guidance before the requirement comes into force, but schools are encouraged to act during the autumn term to prepare to comply with the new law.
Schools should continue to manage their arrangements for provider visits and integrate them into existing careers events, assemblies and options evenings where appropriate. Schools will be required to produce a policy statement to set the framework for requests from providers and ensure this is followed. The statement can be short, but it must include the following:
- Any procedural requirement in relation to requests for access. This might be the main contact point at the school to whom requests should be directed
- Grounds for granting and refusing requests for access. This might include details of timetabled careers lessons, assemblies or events that providers may attend
- Details of premises or facilities to be provided to a person who is given access. This might be a brief reference to rooms and resources to be made available in support of a provider visit.
Schools must publish the policy statement on their websites and should review it from time to time.