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 effectiveness of appropriate bodies (ABs) in their roles and how far the formal assessment process adds value to early career teachers (ECTs), schools and the profession more broadly. We announced that we will be reforming who can operate as an AB so that Teaching School Hubs (TSHs) will become the main providers of AB services and local authorities will no longer carry out this role. Additionally, we asked for views on the timeframe and the needs of the current AB sector to enable a successful transition.

You said

We received 332 responses from a range of different types of organisations including: local authorities, TSHs, national ABs, maintained schools, academy trusts, independent schools, British schools overseas, trade unions and Early Career Framework (ECF) lead providers. Key findings were that:

- The overall perception is that ABs are effective in a range of roles, but that there is inconsistency of approach and more to do on tackling barriers to effective checking of entitlements, particularly around mentoring.

- Wide agreement that assessment and the verifying AB role is valued and fit for purpose but that there is more we can do to minimise workload.

- A longer timeframe for removing the role from local authorities will better serve the interests of ECTs to minimise mid-induction transfers between ABs.

- Support is essential to ensure all TSHs have the capacity, expertise, and relationships in place to take on an increased AB role.

We did

Following consideration of the responses we committed to a longer, phased transitional period towards local authorities no longer operating as ABs, up to September 2024. There will be a programme of support for TSHs working via the Teaching School Hubs Council to build capacity and expertise. We also committed to updating the guidance for ABs, informed by further stakeholder engagement, which will include advice on the depth and detail needed in progress reviews and formal assessments, as well as on entitlement checking. The Department will continue to provide updates and advice to assist all ABs, schools and ECTs to ensure a successful transition during the reforms.

You can read the Government’s response to the consultation in full on the Appropriate body reform and induction assessment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) webpage.

We asked

We asked for views on our proposal to remove the designation of the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) as the Designated Data Body (DDB) for higher education in England. This would take place if HESA consented and merged with Jisc, as was intended at that time.  

You said

80% of respondents agreed that if HESA merges with Jisc as intended, the designation of HESA as the DDB under Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (HERA), should be removed.

20% of the respondents disagreed with the proposal, raising concerns about the associated costs.

We did

Following consideration of the responses, the Minister for Skills decided that in the event of HESA consenting and the merger between HESA and Jisc going ahead, that she would remove the designation of HESA as a DDB under HERA and designate Jisc as the new DDB.

The merger has now gone ahead, and Jisc is the new DDB.

We asked

We asked for views on our proposals to make changes to the Social Workers Regulations 2018 which will support Social Work England to improve its existing flexible model of professional regulation to secure public protection, foster professionalism, and ensure standards of practise.

You said

We received 48 responses to the consultation from a wide variety of interested stakeholders including: social workers, unions, local authorities, regulatory bodies and service users.

The responses were broadly supportive of the proposed changes with approval ranging from 68% to 94%. Both the Department and Social Work England are pleased by the positive support for the proposed changes to the Social Worker Regulations 2018 and want to thank all those who took the time and effort to respond to the consultation and for the contributions received.

We did

Following careful consideration of responses to this consultation, the department will proceed with legislation to introduce all the proposed changes to Social Work England's regulatory framework. The social workers (Amendment and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2022 will be taken forward as soon as parliamentary time allows. Some respondents who commented on the [proposed regulatory changes also provided wider comments on the way in which Social Work England operate as a regulator. 

While these comments fell outside the scope of this consultation, we will continue to work with Social Work England to explore these and specifically where there are opportunities for further improvement.

We asked

We asked for views on proposals to reform post-16 qualifications at level 2 and below in England. The aim of these proposals is to improve the quality of qualifications available at level 2, level 1 and entry level and to simplify the qualifications landscape, ensuring that all future qualifications approved for government funding at these levels will be high quality, have a clear purpose, and lead to positive outcomes for students.

You said

There was strong support for the aim of simplifying the qualification landscape and improving the quality of provision, and for the groups of qualifications we proposed to fund in future. Other themes from the consultation responses included: the importance of flexibility for students studying at these levels; the potential impact of reducing qualification choice on students from disadvantaged backgrounds and with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND); and the need for a phased approach to the timing and sequencing of the reforms.

A total of 410 online and emailed responses to the consultation were received by the department. Of these, 117 were from a further education college, 37 were from independent training providers and 33 from awarding organisations. The remainder of responses were from a combination of education-related organisations, industry bodies, employers and those with an interest in the sector.

We did

The full results of the consultation have been set out in the government response to the consultation which is available on the gov.uk website. We intend to proceed as planned with the majority of our proposals, but having reflected on the responses, we have made some changes to our original plans, including, but not limited to:

  • We will offer more flexibility by allowing the group 2 qualifications to be taken by 16-19 year olds in under two years if that better meets the needs of those learners. This will be at the discretion of providers, and we expect their decisions to be dependent on the size of the reformed qualification and other elements of the study programme.
  • Concerning the options outlined in question 8 of the consultation, we will proceed with ‘Option B’ - to allow 16 to 19 year old students the flexibility to take two smaller occupational-focus qualifications (from group 3), if they do not wish to complete one of the larger, group 2 qualifications.
  • We will give further consideration to the feedback on the importance of smaller courses at level 2 and below. Whilst we do want to set guideline size ranges, we are keen to emphasise that our guideline size criteria are guidelines only, not hard rules, and the qualification should be an appropriate size to ensure it fulfils its purpose and objectives.
  • At entry levels 1 and 2, we will fund ‘vocational taster’ qualifications (that provide students with an opportunity to explore industries and occupations), giving an additional option to those studying at the lowest levels.
  • First teaching of reformed qualifications at level 2 will now start in 2025, rather than in 2024, with additional reformed qualifications being phased in from 2026 and 2027. We have also reviewed the proposed timeline for 2025-27 in light of the timeline for level 3 reform. 

We asked

The Department for Education consulted on changes to the School Admission Appeals Code to allow appeals to be held remotely as well as in person and to allow appeal hearings to continue with two panel members where the third member needs to withdraw.

You said

There was broad support for most of our proposals, in particular the proposal to allow admission authorities to offer remote appeals. The proposal to allow appeal hearings to continue with two panel members where the third member has to withdraw also received support but those who opposed the change raised important concerns about fairness and the perception of fairness.

A total of 488 responses were received. Of these, 94 were from local authorities, 135 were from representatives of schools and academy trusts, 169 from admission appeal panel members and 72 responses were from individuals.

We did

Alongside the publication of the government’s response to the consultation, a revised Appeals Code was laid before Parliament on 16 June 2022. The revised Appeals Code, subject to the Parliamentary process, will come into force on 1 October 2022. The current 2012 Appeals Code will continue to apply until this date.

We asked

Respondents to comment on the proposed changes to the ‘Teacher misconduct regulatory regime’.

You said

That it was only right for all children and young people to be safeguarded and protected wherever they are receiving their education.

 

We did

We have not made any further changes to our proposals. We plan to implement all of our proposals when the next legislative opportunity arises, and we will provide further guidance as necessary at that time.

We asked

The Department for Education published for consultation a draft statutory instrument proposing amendments to the regulations which set out the rules for the Teacher’s Pension Scheme.

You said

Nearly all respondents agreed that the draft amendments achieved the policy aims as described in the consultation document.

We did

The draft regulations now form the basis of the final regulations which were made and laid before Parliament on 18 March 2022.

We asked

We asked for views on our proposals to make changes to the fees Ofsted charge children’s social care providers and reset the three-year inspection cycle for residential family centres, voluntary adoption agencies, adoption support agencies and fostering agencies.

You said

Just over half told us that the proposed fee increase, for those not paying the full cost of Ofsted inspection and regulation, would have a minimal or moderate impact and considered that the proposed increase was fair or thought the fee increase could be sufficiently covered within existing budgets. Almost all other respondents advised that it would have a moderate effect and two said it would have a major effect. Some concerns were raised about the fee increase and the impact of wider financial pressures.

Most respondents were supportive of our proposals on fees for multi-building children’s homes. Likewise, most respondents were also supportive of our proposal to reset the three-year inspection cycle. However, there were some concerns raised, particularly around the potential for a longer time between inspections for some providers. 

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 implement a 10% increase in fees for children’s social care providers not paying the full cost rate, introduce fees for multi-building children’s homes and reset the three-year inspection cycle for residential family centres, voluntary adoption agencies, adoption support agencies and fostering agencies.

We asked

We asked for views on proposals to reform how local authorities' school improvement functions are funded.

You said

While many responses indicated that they understood the rationale for these proposals, we recognise many also raised concerns. These centred on whether schools and councils would be able to absorb further funding pressures; what would happen if schools forums did not agree to de-delegation for core school improvement activity; and the desire for further clarity on what is considered core school improvement. Others noted the challenging implementation timescales. We address these concerns in our government response.

We did

We recognise that there is concern, particularly from councils and the maintained sector, about removing this additional source of funding. However, one of the key rationales of these proposals is to create greater parity between how school improvement is funded in the maintained and academies sector. Therefore, after careful consideration of the responses, the government intends to proceed with implementing the proposals.  

As such, we will (1) reduce the grant by 50% for the FY 2022-23 and bring it to an end in FY 2023-24 and (2) include provision in Part 7 of Schedule 2 to the School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations for FY 2022-23 which would allow councils to de-delegate for all improvement expenditure, including all core improvement activities. We will monitor the impact of the changes during the year. 

We asked

Respondents to comment on the proposed revisions to the Teacher misconduct: the prohibition of teachers - Advice on factors relating to decisions leading to the prohibition of teachers from the teaching profession.

You said

That, overall the revisions provided further clarity to the process, but that it should better define some of the terms used and say more on safeguarding and teacher standards.

We did

We have, where appropriate, made some further revisions to strengthen the advice further.  

We asked

We asked for views on the approach to prioritising schools for future places in the School Rebuilding Programme.

You said

The majority of respondents were supportive of the lead approach proposed in the consultation. This was to combine a light-touch nomination process, where responsible bodies can request that we consider a school informed by condition data held by the department, alongside the ability to submit supplementary professional evidence (e.g. a structural survey by a chartered structural engineer) of severe need.

Overall, respondents thought we should focus on the condition of buildings and that we should prioritise projects with the greatest need for rebuilding. 

We did

We will adopt a prioritisation approach based on the lead proposal in the consultation and continue to prioritise the schools in the poorest condition. The overall approach can be found in the consultation response document. Full details of how to nominate schools for inclusion in the programme can be found on gov.uk.

We have published an Equalities Impact Analysis which has been informed by responses to the consultation.

We asked

In 2021, the Department for Education ran a consultation asking for views on proposals for reforming the further education funding and accountability system.

We would like to thank all those who responded to the consultation, as well as college leaders and sector experts who have worked with us to co-design our proposals.

You said

Respondents generally agreed with the adult skills funding system reform objectives as set out - many remarked that the core of the present system is not complicated, but the add-ons and various funding streams have made it so. A significant number of respondents did not agree that Community Learning should be included as part of these reforms and expressed concern that we would lose sight of the positive impact this provision has on communities as a result. Most respondents welcomed the proposed multi-year funding allocations, recognising it as a helpful step towards providing more predictability and to enabling providers adapt to changing employment needs.

Over three quarters of respondents wanted our accountability proposals to apply to all grant funded providers on a proportionate and relevant basis; agreed with our objectives for new Accountability Agreements; with a renewed focus for the FE Commissioner on driving improvement and championing excellence; and with high level proposals to improve student data collection. A significant number of respondents did not agree with our proposals for a simpler three-stage approach to improve college performance, and inclusion of a financial health measure in the proposed FE performance Dashboard.

We did

We have taken on board responses to the first consultation, and are now setting out further detail of our proposals in a second consultation available here – which is open until 21st September 2022. We welcome the views of all those who work in and with the FE sector and encourage you to respond.

We asked

The Department sought views on moving to a “direct” schools national funding formula (NFF), where the Department would determine funding allocations for schools directly through a single national formula, without adjustment through local authority (LA) funding formulae.

You said

The majority of respondents (59%) were in favour of the Secretary of State allocating funding for all pupil-led and school-led factors as part of the direct NFF. This funding would be allocated directly to schools, without further adjustment by LAs. There also was strong support for our proposals for transitioning towards the direct NFF, by requiring LAs to use each of the NFF factors from 2023-24 and move their local factor values closer to the NFF factor values by 10%.

We did

The Department will implement the direct NFF where all mainstream schools funding would be allocated on the basis of a single national formula, replacing the current system where LAs allocate funding. To get there, the Department will require LAs to use each of the NFF factors, and only NFF factors, and move their factor values at least 10% closer to the NFF in 2023-24.

In spring 2022 will go back to the sector for further views on detailed proposals regarding the direct NFF’s implementation.

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 asked for views on a proposed suite of national standards for providers of semi-independent provision for looked after children and care leavers aged 16 & 17 and how these settings should in future be regulated by Ofsted.

You said

Many respondents agreed that the proposed national standards covered the right areas. The main themes identified for further consideration covered: providing more detail on training and qualifications that will be required; introducing requirements around pre-placement visits and interviews; and, further strengthening the standards on accommodation and support. Respondents also gave views on the advantages and disadvantages of a provider level and individual-setting level Ofsted registration and inspection regime.   

We did

We will introduce mandatory national standards and provider level Ofsted registration and inspection of these placements. We will publish a copy of the national standards in early 2022, which will provide further detail and take into account the feedback received through the consultation. Ofsted will begin registering providers from April 2023, with the national standards becoming mandatory in Autumn 2023. Ofsted will begin inspections from April 2024. 

We asked

We asked for views on a proposed suite of national standards for providers of semi-independent provision for looked after children and care leavers aged 16 & 17 and how these settings should in future be regulated by Ofsted.

You said

Many respondents agreed that the proposed national standards covered the right areas. The main themes identified for further consideration covered: providing more detail on training and qualifications that will be required; introducing requirements around pre-placement visits and interviews; and, further strengthening the standards on accommodation and support. Respondents also gave views on the advantages and disadvantages of a provider level and individual-setting level Ofsted registration and inspection regime.   

We did

We will introduce mandatory national standards and provider level Ofsted registration and inspection of these placements. We will publish a copy of the national standards in early 2022, which will provide further detail and take into account the feedback received through the consultation. Ofsted will begin registering providers from April 2023, with the national standards becoming mandatory in Autumn 2023. Ofsted will begin inspections from April 2024. 

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 your views on a system of Post Qualification Admissions (PQA) which could bring about reform to the higher education (HE) admissions system. We suggested two models of PQA:  

  • Model 1: Students apply and receive offers to HE once they know their Level 3 results. 
  • Model 2: Students apply to HE before they know their Level 3 results (as they do now) but only receive and accept offers after results day. 

We also asked for your comments and suggestions about alternative reform measures.

You said

Two-thirds of respondents (324/489, 66%) were in favour of change to a PQA system in principle, but many respondents were concerned by practical implications of how it could operate, and 60% respondents felt that the models of PQA would be either worse than, or no better than, current arrangements. There were a variety of different models favoured but no consensus as to what change should look like.

Key issues raised included:

  • The effect of change on student well-being. Respondents were clear that any new system should not create additional barriers for groups already underrepresented in HE. High-quality information, advice and guidance were considered  essential in preventing further disadvantage.
  • Operational challenges that may result from PQA, for example, changes to Level 3 results days, timetabling of auditions, tests and interviews and involving the Devolved Administrations and international students.
  • The need for greater transparency about how admissions decisions are made by HE providers.
  • The need for careful planning with a range of stakeholders before introducing a new system.

We did

We carefully considered the responses we received to the consultation and will not be implementing PQA.

The more urgent sector priorities on continuing to deal with Covid recovery, on the skills agenda and the introduction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement have led the Department to conclude that now is not the right time to press ahead with what would be a major, time-consuming reform.

We will continue to work with UCAS and sector bodies to tackle problems with admissions at their root, including the growth in unconditional offers and reforming the personal statement to underpin fairness for students of all backgrounds.  

The full consultation response can be found here: Post-qualification admissions in higher education: proposed changes - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) which was published alongside our policy statement and  consultation on HE Reform. This sets out our plan for Post-16 education across England and how we are planning to bring higher and further education into alignment and create a fairer and more sustainable system for students, institutions and the taxpayer. 

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.