The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) recently published proposals to remove public funding from qualifications with low or no take up.

At Gateway Qualifications we support the objective of improving the quality and value of qualifications.

However, we are concerned that a blanket approach to removing funding from qualifications will lead to unintended consequences and restrict opportunities for social mobility, removing a vital option from some of society’s most vulnerable learners.

Many of our providers work with learners who have previously been failed by the education system, and often require extra support to achieve. For some of these learners, a small qualification may be the first time they’ve ever had their achievement acknowledged. This can often kick start their motivation to go on and achieve larger qualifications or progress to a T Level, Apprenticeship or employment.

The Apprenticeship reforms have created standards for specific job roles. Learners aspiring to progress to one of these apprenticeships shouldn’t be denied a qualification in their specific route just because they need additional support on their journey.

At a time when responsibility for education and training is increasingly being devolved and we are encouraged to meet local needs and be responsive to employers, this approach will drive providers to select from an increasingly small pool of “one-size-fits-all” qualifications, rather being able to pick from a larger pool to find something that genuinely meets their learners needs.

Awarding Organisations like ourselves already conduct reviews of qualifications with low and no usage and are required by the regulator to justify how any we wish to keep are meeting the needs of learners.

We are currently reviewing the qualifications that we have on the list, many of which are already in the process of being withdrawn. Where we have qualifications that Centres are using and believe they offer value to learners, we will be making a case to the Education and Skills Funding Agency to retain the funding for those qualifications. We will be in touch with Centres using these qualifications in the coming weeks to explore the appropriate options.