Students take pride of place in 16-19 framework

9th April 2010 at 01:00
Students have been placed at the heart of 16-19 education and training by the new National Commissioning Framework (NCF)

Funding will follow students and the system will "address learner choice and diversity", according to the NCF, published by the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA).

The framework, which sets out the structures within which local authorities will commission education and training for 16- to 19-year- olds, and up to 25 for those assessed as having learning difficulties, is based on 10 principles (see box below).

While at pains not to exclude employers and providers, the framework says: "The system will operate in the interests of the learner, addressing learner choice and diversity, and will ensure access to learner entitlements and curriculum pathways."

In his foreword, Peter Lauener, chief executive of the YPLA, said: "The key commissioning questions, which this document is designed to support, are what is working well, what is working less well, what do we need more of, what do we need less of, and is there anything new we need to meet young people's needs better?"

The framework says that, in most cases, the lead commissioners will be local authorities and it will draw up local commissioning plans. The YPLA can commission provision directly if it is clear that a local authority lacks the capacity to, or in the case of institutions with national recruitment profiles, such as specialist colleges for those with disabilities.

Local plans will be prepared in conjunction with sub-regional groupings (SRGs) which should allow commissioning authorities to dovetail their individual plans to cope with students travelling out of, and into, their area to study.

Once complete, the local commissioning plans will be scrutinised by the regional planning groups (RPGs), which comprise representatives from local authorities, regional development agencies, the regional Government Office, the YPLA and the new Skills Funding Agency (SFA).

The RPGs ensure that local plans reflect regional skills needs and can be delivered within budget. They can "moderate" the local plans before submitting a regional commissioning plan to the YPLA.

The framework says commissioning decisions will be reached by local authorities, lead commissioning bodies (if different from local authorities), SRGs and RPGs through "mature and collaborative" dialogue.

But if there are disagreements, it will be up to the regional planning groups, working closely with the YPLA, to commission a sub-committee to hear the complaints and make recommendations.

For all provision it funds, the YPLA will operate an in-year system of adjustments for 16-19 funding. Although 201011 is a trial year, the aim is to shift money from providers who significantly under-deliver on learner numbers to those that significantly over-perform.

LAWS OF THE LEARNER-LED SYSTEM: THE 10 GUIDING PRINCIPLES

- The system will operate in the interests of the learner

- It will take account of the needs of employers

- Commissioning should be sustainable and provider neutral

- Funding, based on the national funding formula, will follow the learner

- The system will seek to involve providers as strategic partners

- The process will encourage flexibility for local authorities and providers to respond to need

- The system will ensure consistency in things like quality assurance and data submissions

- It must be compliant with Third Sector principles

- The system will deliver value for money

- Accountability should be secured with a minimum of bureacracy between partners.

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