We Asked, You Said, We Did

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

We asked

The Department for Education published a consultation asking for sector views on a range of questions covering two broad themes to drive up quality in further education (FE) initial teacher training (ITT):

  1. proposed changes to student support funding eligibility for FE ITT courses
  2. longer term proposals to improve FE teacher training quality.

You said

A total of 78 responses were received from individuals and organisations spanning a variety of stakeholder groups, including FE colleges, universities, awarding bodies, unions, other learning providers, and representative bodies.

All parts of the consultation were positively received by a majority of respondents.

We did

As a result of the responses received – and broader evidence reviewed by government – we have updated the eligibility for student support funding for FE ITT courses, effective from academic year 2024 to 2025: Recognised further education teacher training courses eligible for student support: 2024 to 2025 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). As a result, only those FE ITT trainees at English higher education providers with degree awarding powers, or their validated partners (including FE colleges), will be eligible to receive student support funding for FE ITT courses.

 

Government is undertaking further work to develop longer term plans for reform of the FE teacher training system. It is highly likely that this will require regulations to be made under section 17 of the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022. This section of the Act has not yet been commenced. A first set of regulations made under this section would be subject to affirmative resolution by Parliament. No timetable for commencement of the relevant section, or the making of regulations, has yet been set.

We asked

This call for evidence sought the views of the education sector on their use of, and attitude to, generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) in education.

You said

Respondents across primary, secondary and tertiary education are already beginning to see benefits from the use of GenAI and are positive about the opportunities it presents, though many also have concerns about the potential risks. The responses also provided suggestions on the support that the sector would find beneficial.

We did

The Department will use this information to shape its future policy in regards to GenAI in education, including how to best support the sector to optimise the opportunities of GenAI while minimising the risks.

We asked

The Department for Education published a consultation asking for views on the proposed draft regulations to implement the McCloud retrospective remedy as required by the Public Service and Judicial Offices Act 2022.

You said

A total of 309 responses were received from individuals and organisations, and most respondents agreed that the draft regulations meet the policy aims as described in the consultation document.

We did

The Department has looked closely at all the comments raised and the draft regulations will now form the basis of the final regulations. The draft regulations have been laid in Parliament and will be implemented on 1 October 2023

We asked

In April 2023, the Department launched a consultation to seek views on changes to the subject content for Chinese and Japanese AS and A levels. The proposals were for English to be used in aspects of these subjects where the language of study may make it too challenging for students to meet the requirements of their tasks.

You said

We welcome agreement from the majority of respondents that the changes would help to improve the fairness of the qualification and would better allow students to demonstrate the skills under assessment.

We did

As a result of the responses, we will make changes to the AS and A level subject content for Chinese and Japanese. The changes will be made for first teaching in September 2024, with first assessment in 2026.

We asked

The Call for Evidence asked respondents to provide references to evidence that is relevant to trainee and/or early career teachers, stating their source’s methodology, context, recency, and relevance.

You said

There were 92 studies submitted that it has been possible to access. Submissions included, but were not limited to: adaptive teaching, assessment, careers education, expectations, literacy and language, managing behaviour, mental or physical health and wellbeing, neuroscience, policy design and implementation, SEND, and subject and curriculum.

We did

The Call for Evidence has captured the expertise of the sector in a way that we hope can inform the iteration of the frameworks. The evidence examined at this point indicates that alterations to the Early Career Framework and Core Content Framework will be moderate. The team at DfE is working with the Education Endowment Foundation and expert groups to explore where and how it may be necessary to adjust framework statements. These will then be tested with wider stakeholders.

We asked

We asked whether the Ofsted registration requirement should be removed:

  • for providers of adoption support services working under a contract with an adoption agency; and
  • for providers of adoption-related counselling and therapeutic services to adults

You said

By a strong majority in both instances, you agreed that the registration requirement should be removed.

We did

Regulations which will make both these proposed changes were laid before Parliament on 27 November 2023, and will come into force on 18 December 2023, subject to Parliamentary approval.

We asked

If you agreed that the designation of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) as the designated quality body for higher education in England should be removed.

You said

The majority of responses (31) disagreed with the de-designation of QAA, while 15 agreed and one did not answer the question.

We did

Whilst we recognise that many respondents reflected positively on QAA’s work as the DQB, QAA itself has asked to step down. In light of this, and whilst we acknowledge the views expressed, it was not appropriate for QAA to remain designated.

We asked

We asked for views about the suitability of the proposed revisions to the Early Years Educator (EYE) Level 3 qualifications criteria and any cost implications of changing the criteria on businesses. In total the consultation received 105 responses.

You said

Overall, there was a positive response to the proposed criteria. Most respondents welcomed the commitment to updating the criteria. There were some broad themes identified with regards to ensuring the criteria was clear and concise for settings, awarding organisations, practitioners, and students. These themes included, but were not limited to:

  • Reducing repetition across the criteria;
  • Unclear expectations within some of the criteria;
  • Unclear and /or misleading language within some of the criteria, making it difficult to understand and interpret;
  • Consensus on separating curriculum/knowledge and pedagogy/skills to make assessment against the criteria easier;
  • A need for greater understanding of statutory and non-statutory guidance, as well as the role of Ofsted and its framework;
  • Awareness of procedures, practices, strategies and services available locally;
  • Request for specific detail for some criteria.

We did

You can read the Government’s response to the consultation in full on the Changes to the early years educator level 3 criteria - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) webpage.

For background, the criteria sets out the minimum essential knowledge and skills a Level 3 qualified Early Years Educator is required to have to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) effectively.

Based on feedback received, we revised the criteria and published a final version within the consultation response (linked above). As part of the process, we  considered how best to present the criteria so that they are clear and concise, and looked at how to reduce repetition and overlap between the individual criteria. We employed a ‘learn that’ and ‘learn how to’ format to make it clearer what skills and knowledge a level 3 early years educator (EYE) should have and how they should evidence this. This also brings the EYE in line with other professional standards, such as the Early Career Framework. In addition, we aligned the language used with the EYFS statutory framework and Development Matters guidance and added statutory and non-statutory guidance links throughout the criteria, as well as reflecting how early years educators should be aware of their local procedures and policies as required.

The criteria are not intended to be a detailed course curriculum. We have therefore not included specific detail within the criteria which sets out minimum requirements within individual criterion.

We asked

We asked for views on our proposals to make changes to fees for children’s social care providers and to set a minimum inspection frequency for the secure children’s homes element of secure 16-19 academies.

You said

Close to half of respondents (44%) told us that the proposed fee increase would have no or a minor impact. Whereas 39% told us that it would have a moderate impact and 18% told us it would have a major impact.

The majority of respondents (63%) agreed with our proposal that secure 16-19 academies should be subject to the same number of minimum inspections as secure children’s homes.

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 and set a requirement that the secure children’s home element of all secure 16-19 academies is subject to a minimum of two Ofsted inspections a year.

We asked

We asked for views on proposed quality standards, administrative requirements and accompanying guidance ahead of regulations being laid to introduce quality standards and registration and inspection requirements for providers of supported accommodation that accommodate looked after children and care leavers aged 16 and 17.

You said

Many respondents agreed that the proposed standards, requirements and guidance covered the right areas. The main themes identified for further consideration covered: qualifications and experience requirements of managers and staff, restraint, the security of young people’s personal space and the use of non-permanent settings. Respondents also suggested some small changes and additions to the guidance to help provide additional clarity.     

We did

We will proceed with laying the regulations before parliament in early April 2023, which will implement the new national standards and Ofsted regime. Ofsted will begin registering providers of supported accommodation from 28 April 2023. Registration will become mandatory from 28 October 2023.

We asked

In 2022 the Department for Education ran a second, more technical consultation asking for further views on proposals for reforming the further education funding and accountability system. 

You said

We received a total of 249 online and emailed responses to the consultation from a wide variety of interested stakeholders and the public. 

We did

You can read the Government’s response to the consultation in full on the GOV.UK webpage.

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 since 2021. 

We asked

We asked for views on the following proposals:

  • changing the current statutory minimum staff:child ratios in England for 2-year-olds from 1:4 to 1:5
  • making the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework (EYFS) explicit that childminders can care for more than the specified maximum of three children under the age of 5 if they are caring for siblings of children they already care for, or if the childminder is caring for their own baby or child
  • making the EYFS explicit that “adequate supervision” while children are eating means that children must be in sight and hearing of an adult.

You said

A small number of respondents agreed with the proposals to reform 2-year-old and childminder ratios, whilst most respondents disagreed with the proposals. This was a consistent finding across all of the different types of respondents, such as parents, group-based providers and organisations representing the sector. The Government recognises that although most respondents to the consultation disagreed with the proposal on 2-year-old ratios, there was agreement from a number of respondents. This corresponds with evidence gathered via the Natcen survey, which demonstrated that 19% of all group settings (those with and without 2-year-olds) would be likely or very likely to make changes to 2-year-old ratios.

Regarding changing the EYFS wording to clarify that childminders can make exceptions to the statutory minimum ratios for their own children and siblings of children in their care, the majority of consultation respondents disagreed with proposals, although there were some positive responses. These clarifications are intended to support childminders with greater flexibility around the choice of provision they can offer. By clarifying this wording, we intend to support childminders who may care for siblings as well as babies. We recognise that not all childminders may enact this change, but given the small number that have indicated they would find this change beneficial, Government has concluded that this change will be worthwhile.

Regarding supervision whilst eating, we heard from a number of respondents and a substantial majority agreed with the proposal. When asked about their views, people commonly referred to safety reasons for children, such as spotting choking incidents or allergic reactions. A minority of respondents disagreed.

We did

You can read the Government’s response to the consultation in full on the Childcare: regulatory changes - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) webpage.

Based on these results, the department has decided to proceed with all proposals to amend 2-year-old ratios from 1:4 to 1:5, and to amend EYFS wording around exceptions to childminder ratios. The proposed changes to ratios will continue to be a statutory minimum requirement for settings, and there will be no obligation on providers to operate at the statutory minimums – i.e. providers can continue to work to tighter ratios if they decide that is best for the children and staff at their setting.

Government has also agreed to proceed with the proposal to amend wording around supervision whilst eating to ensure children are within sight and hearing whilst eating. 

The changes outlined in this document are part of a wider package of investment in the childcare sector announced on 15 March, to support more parents into work. Alongside the substantial investment in the existing free childcare hours offers, these new staffing flexibilities for providers are a sensible and proportionate step, alongside government’s additional investment, which will help meet the demand among newly eligible parents for childcare support.

We asked

We asked for views on proposed updates to the early years funding formulae and reforms to maintained nursery school supplementary funding.

You said

The majority of respondents agreed with almost all of the proposals set out in the consultation.

We did

We have therefore updated the datasets in line with our proposals – with a couple of minor exceptions, and made the technical amendments. The revised formulae have been used to determine the early years entitlements hourly funding rates for 2023-24.

We asked

We asked for views on our proposals relating to the implementation of the “direct” national funding formula (NFF) for schools. The direct NFF, when implemented will mean that the funding for individual schools will be set by a single, national formula – rather than each local authority having its own local formula to allocate funding for individual schools.

The consultation set out proposals on the detail of how the direct NFF will operate, as well changes to make the current funding system fairer and more consistent, as part of the transition towards the direct NFF.

You said

We received 196 responses to the consultation. Our proposals received strong support across the stakeholders who responded (including schools, academy trusts, school forums and unions).

 

We did

You can read the Government’s response to the consultation in full on the Implementing the Direct National Funding Formula Government consultation response (publishing.service.gov.uk) webpage. As well as confirmation of our plans for the implementation of the direct NFF, the Government’s response also confirms that the Department will implement two reforms to the schools NFF from 2024-25.:

 

  • First, we are reforming funding for schools which operate across more than one site through a national formulaic approach to split sites within the national funding formula. This will ensure that funding is allocated consistently and fairly across England, and that all eligible schools attract funding towards the additional costs they face. This replaces the current system whereby only some of these schools receive additional funding, depending on local funding arrangements.

 

  • Secondly, we are making funding for schools which see significant increases in their pupil numbers more consistent across the country, by setting minimum levels of additional funding that every eligible school will receive. We are also introducing some changes to local authorities’ allocation of funding for schools which have significant declines in pupil numbers – with a requirement that local authorities must use their School Capacity Survey (SCAP) data to assess whether school places will be required in the next three to five years, replacing the current requirement to use local planning assessments. This will ensure that allocations of “falling rolls” funding are based on a consistent measure of forecasting future school places, supporting the policy objective of targeting this support to the schools where places will be needed in future.

We asked

We asked for your views on the proposed changes to statutory guidance for schools on access for education and training providers. This is following changes made through the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022, where we strengthened existing provider access legislation to require schools to provide six encounters with providers of technical education or apprenticeships for all pupils, during school years 8-13.

You said

We received 137 responses to the consultation from a wide variety of interested stakeholders including: schools, providers, careers professionals, unions and others.

Overall, we received a positive response to the revised statutory guidance and to our proposals on how we support and intervene in schools that require further support to comply. This includes 83% agreeing that the statutory guidance is clear and easy to understand.

We also received good support for the use of peer and expert reviews to strengthen the quality assurance of careers guidance in schools and colleges.

We did

Following careful considerations of responses to this consultation, we have taken on board some suggestions to make improvements to the statutory guidance. We have reduced the length of the overall guidance by refining sections and using weblinks. We have also continued to work with The Careers & Enterprise Company to shape our support for schools and providers in line with consultation feedback.

You can read the Government’s response to the consultation in full on the Access to schools for education and training providers - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) webpage.

We asked

We asked for views on proposed changes to the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) system. 

You said

We received almost 6,000 responses to the consultation. A number of respondents agreed with our proposals including our vision to develop a national system with consistent national standards, whilst others were concerned about the unintended consequences of some proposals. There were some proposals that respondents wanted to hear more about.  

We did

We carefully considered all of the feedback we received through the thousands of responses to the consultation and in the many events that took place during the 16-week consultation period.  

This feedback informed the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan which we published in March, setting out government’s response to the consultation and our next steps for reform. An independent analysis of consultation responses was published alongside this. 

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

In 2022 the Department for Education ran a consultation which sought views on a range of policies that aimed to improve outcomes for students and tackle low-quality provision.

You said

We received a total of 318 online and emailed responses to the consultation from a wide variety of interested stakeholders and the public.

We did

You can read the government response to the consultation in full on the gov.uk webpage. We would like to thank all those who responded to the consultation.