We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We asked

We asked for views on the report and recommendations produced by the expert advisory group appointed to review the ITT market for courses leading to qualified teacher status.

You said

Many respondents were supportive of principles of the Quality Requirements but noted logistical and resourcing challenges to implementing them in practice, particularly for the requirements on intensive practice placements, minimum time allocations and mentoring. Respondents were concerned about providers' ability to prepare their applications for accreditation in the time available, given the indicative timeline set out in the consultation document.

We did

We have accepted the report's central recommendation that all ITT courses leading to qualified teacher status should adhere to a set of Quality Requirements, and that all providers of these courses should go through an accreditation process taking place in the 2021/22 and 2022/23 academic years to ensure they can meet the new requirements on an ongoing basis.

Based on the consultation feedback, we have amended the Quality Requirements proposed by the expert advisory group to address the potential challenges to implementation identified by respondents. We have also extended the timeline for first delivery of the Quality Requirements by one year to September 2024 and will be providing funding to support providers and their partners to implement them into their ITT courses.

Our full response to the report’s recommendations, including the results of the consultation, can be found in on the GOV.UK website.

We asked

We asked for views on amending regulations in relation to: 

  • Ofsted’s minimum frequency of inspections of children’s homes; and
  • The minimum frequency of inspections for children’s social care provision more generally from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022

You said

The majority of respondents agreed with our proposal to amend the minimum frequency of Ofsted inspections for Children’s homes, so that minimum inspection frequencies are based on the judgement from the given current inspection year and not from the judgement from the previous inspection year. Most considered that the current safeguards in place were sufficient, specifically highlighting the importance of intelligence gathered through the monthly visits by an independent person.

Most respondents also agreed that we should amend the minimum frequency of Ofsted inspections for children’s social care more generally, so that Ofsted should comply with the minimum frequency of inspections ‘so far as reasonably practicable’ for the period 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

We did

The results of the consultation have been set out in a report on the gov.uk website. Based on these results, the department has decided to amend Ofsted inspection frequencies for children’s care homes and to enable Ofsted to comply with minimum inspection frequencies ‘so far as reasonably practicable’ for the period 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

We asked

We sought views on proposals to attach conditions to the payment of the Local Authority School Improvement Monitoring and Brokering grant in order to ensure that it is contributing, all across England, to the delivery of urgent school improvement priorities.

You said

Broadly, respondents were supportive of our proposals, or indicated that the proposed conditions would not have a significant impact on local authorities, schools and pupils.

We did

After careful consideration of the responses, we decided to proceed with our proposals to attach conditions to the grant. In light of queries raised by respondents, we have ensured that the grant terms and conditions allow local authorities flexibility in how they carry out their school improvement functions whilst prioritising educational recovery; we have provided an indication of the types of activity that a local authority should undertake in order to demonstrate compliance with the grant conditions; and we have clearly set out the process by which the department will work with local authorities to secure compliance where there are concerns.

We asked

We asked for views about introducing a new international teaching qualification called iQTS based on English standards and training methods, accessible in a range of international markets. The consultation set out a proposed blueprint for the qualification and asked for views on the proposed framework and market potential.

You said

Responses to the consultation were very positive and respondents overwhelmingly agreed with the vast majority of proposals and the overarching approach to align iQTS closely with English ITT. Responses evidenced clear demand both in terms of ITT providers who expressed an interest in being involved in delivering iQTS, and the international sector in highlighting the demand for a UK Government-backed qualification.

We did

On the basis of responses to the consultation, the Department for Education will create a new international teaching qualification called International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS), beginning with a small pilot before moving to full roll-out. The public response summarises our findings and outlines our next steps.

We asked

Respondents to comment on proposed revisions made across all parts of KCSIE as well as to comment on proposed revisions to the Department’s stand-alone advice Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges.

You said

We should clarify terms which are already explained within the document, and add additional information, particularly information regarding child on child/peer on peer abuse.

We did

We have revised and further strengthened key sections of the guidance (parts one and five) and the stand-alone advice 2021 to better support schools and colleges prevent abuse, identify abuse and respond appropriately where abuse is reported.

We asked

The department sought views on proposals to maintain flexibilities on the timing of medical reports in the foster carer and adopter assessment processes, the use of virtual visits, and the continued suspension of the regular cycle of Ofsted inspections of children’s services providers. The department also asked for views on two proposals relating to adoption; to allow medical reports to be completed by other qualified medical professionals and to remove the requirement for a full medical examination.

You said

The majority of respondents agreed with the proposals to maintain the flexibilities on the timing of medical reports in the foster carer and adopter assessment processes, the use of virtual visits, and the continued suspension of the regular cycle of Ofsted inspections of children’s services providers. On the two proposals relating to adoption; whilst a majority agreed with the proposal to allow medical reports to be completed by other qualified medical professional, there were a greater number who disagreed with the second proposal, to remove the requirement for a full medical examination, and concerns were raised in relation to safeguarding.

We did

The department decided to continue only with plans to extend the existing flexibilities on medical reports (for fostering and adoption), virtual visits and Ofsted inspection cycles, as set out in this document. We have reflected on the responses to the two other proposals to amend adoption regulations and, as safeguarding is an area on which the department places paramount importance, we decided to give this further reflection and are not proceeding with these additional flexibilities at this time.

The department is clear that the flexibilities will only remain in place for as long as they are needed; they will be reviewed in terms of monitoring and in line with the Government roadmap to recovery and there currently are no plans to extend them beyond 30 September 2021.

We asked

Last year, the Department for Education consulted on changes to the School Admissions Code, to improve access to schools for vulnerable children, reducing to a minimum any gaps in their education.

You said

There was broad support for most of our proposals, in particular for the introduction of mandatory deadlines for both in-year applications and Fair Access Protocols (FAPs) that improve the process for all children who need a school place in-year.

A total of 270 responses were from organisations. Of these, 118 were from local authorities and 73 from schools and academy trusts. 1,277 responses were from individuals. 

We did

Alongside the publication of the government’s response to the consultation, the draft Code was laid before Parliament on 13 May 2021. It has now completed its Parliamentary process and the new School Admission Code 2021 will come into force on 1 September 2021. The current 2014 Code will continue to apply until this date.

We asked

The consultation set out ten proposals for reforming the future arrangements for subcontracting of ESFA funded post 16 education and training. The proposals sought to reduce the overall volume of subcontracted delivery across the sector by eliminating provision that is poorly managed and delivered, and provision undertaken for the wrong reasons. It also sought to strengthen the ESFA’s oversight of subcontracted activity.

You said

In general, respondents felt that some of the proposals, particularly where we have suggested obtaining prior agreement from the agency, would be excessively bureaucratic, both for providers and the agency. Many have pointed out where some of the proposals may be suitable for some funding streams but not for others.

We did

We have reflected upon the responses and have made changes to our final approach taking account of the views expressed. We have, in some cases, decided to differentiate our approach by funding stream and to take account of particular structures/modes of delivery. Overall, we have tried to eliminate proposals that would be excessively bureaucratic and will build more of our oversight and assurance into the development of the Standard for the Management of Subcontracting (proposal 9).

We asked

Do you agree with the proposed 10% increases to fees for 2020-21, and how will that affect you as a provider?

You said

The fees should not be increased because doing so will put additional pressure on the budgets of providers.

We did

The majority of providers are a long way from paying the full cost of the inspection and regulatory activity undertaken by Ofsted, which means that the taxpayer continues to subsidise the regulation of the majority of children’s social care providers. However, due to additional pressures on the sector caused by Covid-19, we have since decided to waive the collection of the uplift in fees for the financial year 2020-21.

We asked

We asked for views about strengthening the arrangements for ring-fencing DSG so that it is clear that DSG deficits do not have to be met from local authorities’ general funds.

You said

The majority of respondents agreed with the proposals but thought they needed further strengthening to achieve what was intended.

We did

The department put the ring-fencing requirement into the School and Early Years Finance Regulations 2020 to give it statutory backing.  DSG deficits can no longer be paid off from general funds without requesting permission from the Secretary of State, and the DfE will work with authorities to enable them to pay off their deficits from within DSG funds.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-changing-the-dedicated-schools-grant

We asked

As part of the Government's commitment to all children in education in England, including those already being placed in online provision, we published the consultation document: Online schools accreditation scheme in September 2019. The consultation recognised the growing market of online education services for children in England, many of whom offer a full curriculum and may represent a child’s main or only source of formal education. As this type of provision is currently unregulated, the department sought views on an accreditation scheme to reassure children, parents and local authorities of the quality of education and safeguarding arrangements in using such services.

The consultation made two key proposals:

  • the establishment of a voluntary online education accreditation scheme
  • the establishment of non-statutory standards for online education provision

As part of the proposals, we consulted on the appointment of a Quality Assurance Body (QAB) to provide an inspection service for the online settings that join the accreditation scheme. The consultation document also included the draft standards; views were requested on their suitability and practical application.

The government response to this consultation can be viewed on https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/online-schools-accreditation-scheme.

You said

There is substantial support for an accreditation scheme – with over 90% of respondents supporting the principles of the proposed scheme. Below is a summary of areas where we found significant support:

  • 94% of all respondents agreed that there is a need for a quality assurance scheme in some form – 96% of providers, 100% of local authorities, 86% of parents and 100% of the broader education sector;
  • there is 91% support overall for the principles of the accreditation scheme we have proposed – 96% from providers, 94% from local authorities, 93% from parents and 83% from the broader education sector;
  • there is also strong support for basing standards on the Independent School Standards (ISS) – 83% support overall, including 100% support among local authorities. Although there was less certainty about whether we had identified the correct standards, 68% of respondents overall felt that we had, including 80% of local authorities;
  • 89% felt that it is appropriate for online providers to have regard to Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) guidance.
  • there is strong support for the department to appoint a QAB to inspect online settings and providers (94% overall, 96% from providers, 92% from parents, 92% from the broader education sector and 100% from local authorities);
  • there is strong support for publishing all reports – whether standards have been met or not. This found 89% support overall, including 100% of parents and local authorities;
  • there is strong support for giving providers four weeks to submit an action plan if an inspection found they were not meeting all required standards. 83% overall said that this was an appropriate timeframe, including 79% of providers, 81% of local authorities, 90% of the broader education sector and 92% of parents.

Other substantial issues raised are summarised below:

  • 75% of respondents overall were concerned about the inclusion of overseas-based providers in the scheme, including 94% of local authorities;
  • questions relating to safeguarding showed a greater level of uncertainty relative to most other consultation questions. 41% of respondents overall said they were unsure if we had identified standards that would adequately safeguard children, although 52% answered ‘yes’ and only 8% ‘no’. 60% overall said they were unsure that safeguarding arrangements would work in practice, including 73% of local authorities. However, only 8% answered that they would not work, including just 7% of local authorities;
  • there was some uncertainty about whether remote inspections are likely to work in practice. 44% overall said that they were ‘unsure’. 44% also answered ‘yes’ and 12% ‘no’;
  • we detected some misunderstanding about possible sanctions for non-compliance, in the context of a non-statutory scheme.

The government response to this consultation can be viewed on https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/online-schools-accreditation-scheme.

We did

Based on consultation feedback, we will make the following substantive changes to the initial proposals:

  • due to concerns raised relating to the inclusion of overseas-based providers, we will restrict the scheme to providers with a physical presence in the UK only;
  • whilst not prohibiting remote inspections entirely, we will indicate a strong preference to the QAB for physical inspections. All initial inspections will be carried out in person;
  • the degree of uncertainty relating to safeguarding suggests that there is a need for better definition and guidance from the department, particularly around a provider’s responsibility and how it will keep children safe online. As such, we will provide clear guidance, highlighting the distinction between the roles and responsibilities of those for the online safeguarding and the roles and responsibilities of those for the physical safeguarding. The term 'physical safeguarding' is intended to cover a wide range of safeguarding aspects – not only those limited to preventing physical harm or abuse. The exact definition of physical safeguarding will differ depending on the individual circumstances and location of the child. In practice, this will signify that the online provider is responsible for the online safeguarding only; the physical safeguarding will rest with the adults present at the site where the online education is being provided;
  • we will change the name of the scheme to the ‘Online Education Accreditation Scheme’. This is to more accurately reflect the difference between providers in this sector and traditional school settings. We will therefore avoid the use of the term ‘school’ altogether and refer instead to ‘online education settings’, ‘online education services’ and ‘online education providers’. The standards will also be amended accordingly;
  • we will assess to what extent it is workable to add additional information requirements at the registration stage;
  • we will make a technical change whereby due diligence is carried out by the QAB, rather than the department. The QAB will report the outcome of due diligence checks to the department;
  • The uncertainty relating to possible sanctions for non-compliance suggests there is a need for guidance from the department to ensure that all parties are clear about how the scheme will work. This will be provided for the commencement of the scheme.

The government response to this consultation can be viewed on https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/online-schools-accreditation-scheme.

We asked

The department sought views on: a proposed increase, from April 2020, to the application fee and the annual fee paid to Ofsted by early years settings on the Early Years Register; and the principles that should underpin a revised Early Years Register fee model from April 2021.

You said

In terms of the proposed fee increase, just over half (56%) did not agree that uprating fees in this way was a reasonable approach to implementing a fee increase in April 2020. However, a quarter (25%) of respondents agreed this would be a reasonable approach, and 18% of respondents said they were neutral. In terms of a revised Early Years Register fee model from April 2021, nearly three quarters of respondents (73%) supported the principle of varying fees based on different categories.

We did

The department decided not to implement any fee increase from April 2020. The department said it would develop a new Early Years Register fee model with the aim of introducing the revised model from April 2021. However, this may be delayed following the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

We asked

We sought views on the proposed subject content for new digital Functional Skills qualifications, specifically on progression, skills, knowledge and understanding needed for everyday life and work.

You said

There was a high level of support for the subject content with most respondents agreeing with our proposals. However, respondents also provided suggestions for how the subject content could be improved. The main feedback being the inclusion of specific knowledge and skills in the subject content, the difficulty of delivering and assessing some of the subject content statements, and a lack of clarity around the expected scope and range of subject content statements.

We did

Each suggestion has been carefully considered and we have worked with sector stakeholders and subject experts to revise the subject content following this consultation. On the basis of the responses to the consultation, the Department for Education will publish the subject content for digital FSQs.

The consultation response sets out the feedback received and explains the changes made and decisions taken to finalise the subject content. Full details of the changes made to the consultation are at Annex B of the consultation response.

We asked

For your views on our proposals to improve data on the FE workforce. In particular we wanted to know how plans for a mandatory annual workforce data collection would be received by those within the intended scope of the collection and those who would be responsible for making the data returns.

You said

We were pleased to get a good response covering lots of different voices from the further education sector including providers, sector representatives organisations and individuals working in FE. All comments were considered as part of the review of proposals and reflected in the consultation response.

We did

As a result, we intend to press ahead by introducing a workforce data collection from the 2020/21 academic year, which will be mandatory from the 2021/22 academic year.

 

A summary of the responses received was included in the full consultation response. The Department will now work with the Education and Skills Funding Agency to prepare for the launch of the collection.

The ESFA will review the impact that Covid-19 disruption has on user-testing and software development. Providers will be informed to what extent this may affect the development timetable. We do not currently expect this to change the requirement for mandatory returns in the 2021/22 academic year.

We asked

As part of the independent review of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) conducted by Dame Shirley Pearce, the Department for Education called for a wide range of views on the TEF from across the higher education sector, students, employers and the wider public on Dame Shirley’s behalf.

The consultation (the TEF review ‘call for views’) invited respondents to indicate whether they think changes are needed to ensure that the TEF process is robust, resilient and fit for purpose in the future.

You said

Respondents indicated high levels of support for the TEF’s aim of assessing the quality of teaching excellence and student outcomes across providers of higher education, with many sharing a view that it would help to re-balance research and teaching activities in higher education, and provide a specific focus on improvement and enhancement within both teaching and learning.

Some responses were positive that the TEF provided a greater focus on improving teaching quality and increasing opportunities for students to be more engaged in making decisions about their teaching and learning.

Some expressed concern about the suitability of the TEF criteria and the metrics and proxies used in the measurement. Some respondents felt that the complexity of HE teaching excellence was not captured by providers being awarded a single TEF rating. But many responses anticipated that the costs and bureaucracy associated with subject-level TEF would be likely to be much greater than for provider-level TEF, with specific concerns around the impact on smaller providers and on providers offering many subjects.

Some respondents were concerned that the current design of the TEF disproportionately impacted on smaller providers, subjects that did not generate high paid employment, providers in weaker employment markets, and those with diverse student intakes.

We did

The ‘call for views’ informed the findings and recommendations in Dame Shirley Pearce’s report of her independent review, which was published, along with the government response on 21 January 2021.

The Office for Students will be consulting on the future TEF model later this spring. The Government would like to see the revised TEF framework in place, with assessments completed and new ratings published by autumn 2022.

We asked

We asked for your views on proposals from employer groups to develop new Apprenticeship Standards, to help ensure that any new Standards taken forward for development are viable, high quality, and widely supported. In particular we wanted to know whether the proposed Apprenticeships were in recognised occupations requiring at least 12 months of training, and whether the Standard would duplicate any others already in existence.

You said

We received a wide range of responses across all bids, including from, employers, universities, Trade Association, Federation, Royal Marines, Royal Navy, Theatres and schools. All comments were considered as part of the overall review of proposals carried out by the department.

We did

We approved the following Apprenticeship proposals for development:

  • Digital User Experience Professional
  • Express Delivery Manager
  • Financial Services Professional
  • Senior Leader
  • Science Industry Process/Plant Engineer
  • Motor Finance Specialist
  • Power Networks Engineer
  • Puppet Maker
  • Stone Mason

A summary of comments received was included in the feedback to each proposal. The Department will now support the successful employer groups to develop their Standards.