ATL comment ahead of Technical and Further Education Bill's second reading

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Press release
15 November 2016 by ATL Media Office
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, comments ahead of the Technical and Further Education Bill's second reading, due to take place in the House of Commons this afternoon (Monday).

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

"While ATL does not want to see any college going into liquidation and closing, we welcome the Government's protection of learners through the Technical and Further Education Bill. It is important that, if any colleges become insolvent, learners are able to complete their courses and this Bill will ensure that this happens.

"ATL is also pleased that the Bill gives additional protection to learners with special educational needs (SEN).

"On the proposal to simplify technical qualifications, we agree with the Federation of Awarding Bodies' (FAB) response to the Skills Plan that, 'single licences (for the occupational routes) will create monopolies with all of the associated disincentives and perverse results'. The Federation is also right to warn that the more specialist awarding organisations could be squeezed out of the market.

"It is also worrying that there is little mention of Ofqual, the regulator for qualifications in England, in this Bill and about its role in the future of technical qualifications. Although we support the Government's aim of boosting technical education, it is vital that the role of the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) is clarified further, particularly as it is proposed that its remit will be extended to cover all technical education.

"The apprenticeship standards that have been approved so far have caused some concern in the sector, particularly because, in some cases, the award does not contain a vocational qualification.

"Ultimately, employers need to know that the awards apprentices receive have been reliably and validly assessed, and apprentices need to be assured that their apprenticeship is both valuable and portable in the fast-changing world of work. Fortunately, this Bill presents the opportunity to ensure that these concerns are addressed."