More must be done to support Level 2 learners

Speaking at the AoC conference today Amanda Speilman explained how colleges must work more effectively with local employers to help unlock the unrealised potential of young people taking level 2 study programmes.

Many of the 170,000 young people doing level 2 study programmes are facing narrow options and limited flexibility. Following Ofsted’s report on the curriculum available to students taking level 2 study programmes at further education colleges. Often these young people do not have 5 good GCSEs and there are gaps in their understanding of English and maths.

Read Ofsted’s Level 2 Study Programme review here

The report highlights that these young people’s life-long employability depends on the ability of teachers to redirect their education into a course that stimulates and motivates them, and which offers the prospect of further study, training or work. However, it finds that for too long they have been seen by policy makers as “other people’s children” and, as a result, their needs have not always been met.

According to Speilman colleges doing this well are doing 3 important things:

  • collaborating with local employers to design and deliver curricula that set up leaders for good local jobs
  • recognising the importance of personal, social and employability skills
  • evaluating the benefits of their study programmes by properly tracking destinations and feed that back into curriculum design

The report also outlines concern about the number of courses on offer that do not lead to good local jobs. Ofsted found that many colleges collected little data about learners’ destinations. But those colleges that did were able to give Ofsted a view about which courses had the best and worst employment prospects.


The report recommends that colleges should:

  • engage actively with employers, who should co-design and implement aspects of the curriculum and assess learners
  • review their current minimum requirements for level 2 and level 3 study programmes to make sure that they are appropriate
  • ensure that teachers are up to date with the practices and jobs available in their industry
  • arrange work experience so that they are relevant to learners’ programmes of study
  • give clearer feedback to learners on their progress
  • not focus too much on qualification outcomes
  • evaluate whether level 2 learners improve their progression into careers by progressing to a level 3 study programme

Ofsted also recommends that the Department for Education should provide guidance to colleges about the information they should publish on their websites about student destinations, and evaluate the impact of the policy requiring students to re-sit their English and mathematics GCSE.

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