It is now a legal requirement for all Multi-Academy Trust schools in the UK to provide training providers access to pupils in years eight to thirteen.
In a push for awareness of non-academic routes of education, the ‘Baker Clause’ requires all schools to publish a policy statement on their website setting out their arrangements for provider access.
Introduced by former education secretary Lord Baker in May 2017, this law is an amendment to the ‘Technical and Further Education Act’.
The actual legal obligation for all trusts to publish a provider access statement came into action on January 2nd of this year, but has proven to be adopted slowly across the education industry.
Certain Multi Academy Trusts have been accused of resisting the promotion of non-vocational courses to their pupils, often preferring the promotion of more traditional educational subjects and academic courses.
However, Lord Baker has stressed the importance of fair access for all pupils as they reach important ‘transition points’ in their educational journeys. This is particularly relevant at the ages of 14, 16, and 18 years old when important academic decisions are being made, carving the pathways to further education or vocational careers.
What the statement should include:
The policy statement has to include procedures for accommodating access requests as well as details of the premises and facilities that will be provided.
Pupils and their parents need clear access to an online platform that will list all of the options available for pursuing vocational training courses and the providers of such courses. It should also list the facilities, transportation, and requirements needed for successful attendance and completion of such courses.
Multi-academy trusts fail to implement Baker clause
In a January article, Further Education Week published an article providing evidence that just two of the 10 largest multi-academy trusts in the UK had complied with the legal duty outlined in the Baker Clause.
By the end of January, of ten trusts investigated, only The Kennel Academies Trust and Delta Academies Trust had responded with a copy of their statements and proof that they had published them on their school websites.
Some Academies admitted to FEW that they had prepared a document to upload onto their websites, blaming time constraints and busy periods over Christmas for lack of publication. Others declined to comment when questioned as part of the FEW investigations.
Vocational qualifications to come under greater scrutiny
In 2014, Ofqual announced that it would remove accreditation and change the way vocational courses were regulated in order to improve quality across England and Northern Ireland.
This move was decided so that more openings would become available for a number of potential school leavers across the UK. With vocational courses focusing on design, delivery and awarding as opposed to entry requirements and accreditation.
Ongoing studies have claimed that future generations of school leavers should turn their backs on university education and opt for a more vocational pathway, preparing them for a trade as opposed to an academic degree.
In the UK, there has been a sharp rise in the projected number of medium and low skilled jobs, whilst across some industries there has been a decline in demand for university graduates across the board.
Another 2014 study claimed that two thirds of jobs created by 2022 will be in low or medium skilled occupations that do not demand a degree as a requirement.
This equates to more than 9 million school leavers, therefore the demand for vocational courses and access to such courses is expected to increase rapidly.
However, the most ‘in-demand’ occupation of the future will be linked to health and social care as rising numbers of school leavers are needed to care for the aging population in the UK.
DofE Statutory Guidelines
The Department of Education has stated that the reason the ‘Baker Clause’ has been pushed into UK law is that all pupil should have a clear idea of the range of routes into the workplace. This is so that each individual has the opportunity to make educated and informed decisions about their future, with confidence.
To enforce the ‘Baker Clause’ The DofE published statutory guidelines for schools across the UK on January 2nd 2018. These guidelines clearly stated that schools have to provide opportunities for technical education and apprenticeship providers to talk to pupils, and to publish a statement on their website.
In 2017 the Telegraph Education published the findings of a new report which claims that the number of degree apprentices in the UK is to increase by 650%.
Degree apprenticeships were introduced UK wide in 2015 and enable applicants to split their time between their universities to study, and the workplaces in industries in which they will eventually be employed. The cost of course fees are split between the Government and employers.
A range of employers of varying sizes are already partnering with universities across the UK to work with these degree apprenticeships.
Some of the brands involved include Mercedes-Benz, Nestle, IBM, Airbus, and Transport for London.
A Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) is a single entity established to undertake a strategic collaboration to improve and maintain high educational standards across a number of schools. A group of schools form a single MAT which has overarching responsibility for their governance.
It’s unclear how long it will take for all UK Multi-Academy trusts to obey the educational laws and publish a policy statement on their websites. However, it is a legal requirement and trusts could face penalties if they fail to comply with government set standards.
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