Careers Information Portal: Be-More

The Be More portal has been in development and evolving over the last 24 months or so. The LCRCA’s aspiration is for the website to become the ‘go to’ resource for localised careers content and guidance. The expansion of programmes such as Traineeships and the introduction of T-Levels means that the portal is continually evolving. As such, the LCR CA is reviewing how it might be developed in the next phase and they are taking an evidence-based approach to needs prior to putting the final next stage technical specification to address what LCR stakeholders want. As such;

  • LCRCA Evidence, Research and Intelligence Team will be running some closed workshops with attendees from across the LCR.
  • In conjunction with this, the CA have launched an online survey which opens on 2nd July. The link to the survey is here.

There is plenty of information around the issues of careers IAG engagement, however the above will be specifically focusing on how LCR stakeholders (learners, employers, IAG practitioners, provider etc…) would look to engage with an LCR focused portal.

GMLPF would urge members to complete the survey and provide input into this vital subject area.

Ofsted Update May 2021

GMLPF attended Ofsted’s NW FES meeting last week

Apprenticeships seem very much to be the current focus of Ofsted’s inspection work. Inspectors are trying to catch up with the number of new providers who are still awaiting a New Provider Monitoring Visit (NPMV). Key messages/actions that emerged from the meeting are:

  • Providers should complete and return the Provider Survey if they haven’t already done so. IMPORTANTLY, this allows providers to indicate when an inspection visit would not be welcome.
  • The EIF framework and handbook is being reviewed and updated to reflect findings of 25-30 pilot inspections taking place across the country (including with two GMLPF members). Ofsted is keen to look at the impact of Covid on PDBW
  • There are still approximately 100 new Apprenticeship providers expecting an NPMV (some 20 in the NW). Ofsted is prioritising this group over the coming months.
  • Ofsted has lifted the  “pause” on NHS Apprenticeship providers (Covid saw all inspections/visits to NHS providers halted). Providers in the health sector can now expect to be inspected/visited again.
  • Over the last year, it is estimated that 138 Apprenticeship providers have ceased trading. In many cases, this is due to insufficient progress made in two primary areas: safeguarding and quality of education. An associated issue is the difficulties that learners (based with providers who have ceased training) face in transferring to other providers. The system is too slow and cumbersome. In other words, the lack of prompt support makes it harder to “rehome” learners.
  • Risk Assessments: performance and QAR data are less critical in identifying which providers are chosen for inspection. Ofsted will look at the areas of provision and the length of time since last inspection when identifying which providers will be inspected.
  • Inspection intervals: Covid and the lack of inspection activity over the last 12 -15 months has led to the modification of the inspection cycle as outlined in this table. Based on the table and discussions at the meeting, four groups of providers locally may be prioritised for inspection/visit once they resume:
    • New providers
    • Providers who have received an NPMV but not their first full inspection
    • Providers graded good but who were anticipating a short inspection between March 2020 and July 2021
    • Outstanding providers last inspected before September 2015


Traineeship providers: information request from ESFA

The ESFA has written to networks like GMLPF to ask for support in delivering Traineeships. 

In July 2020, the Chancellor announced a significant expansion of Traineeships as part of his Plan for Jobs.  The Government have increased and extended this drive until 31 July 2022, providing an additional £126m for the 2021/2022 academic year. This boost will help meet increased demand from young people who have fewer employment choices or opportunities available due to the Covid pandemic. We expect to see this investment help young people prepare for employment and apprenticeships through a combination of sector-focused skills development and work experience in line with international best practice.

High-quality Traineeships are a gateway to employment and apprenticeships for young people and are critical to driving and supporting economic recovery. Learning providers’ contribution to the success of Traineeships is vital. You can help in two key ways:


  1. Forecasting and planning assumptions over the next 18-months

ESFA asks Traineeship providers to complete a survey to build intelligence on the trajectory of planned and actual starts.  The information you provide will be treated confidentially and used only to support the management of the Traineeships programme and inform investment and growth beyond July 2022. 

Please complete the survey at the link below between the 1st and 12th of each month, reporting on figures for the previous month.

Traineeship Survey


  1. Supporting the Delivery of ‘your’ Traineeship Programme

 ESFA is updating the list of Traineeship providers on the website to include additional details, making it easier for young people, employers and referral agencies to find local programmes. 

To ensure your listing is comprehensive, please email the following information to [email protected] by the end of this week.

  • Your provider name
  • The region or regions in which you deliver Traineeships
  • A list of the towns and/or cities you are providing traineeships
  • A link to your website
  • Your email address (generic email address able to answer FAQs around Traineeships)
  • Your contact number (a number that can handle an enquiry on Traineeships for you)

Ofsted phased return to inspections

Ofsted is planning a phased return to inspections. Key issues emerging from today’s meeting included:

  • Ofsted will not carry out graded short or full inspections until later in 2021. A return to short or full inspections will be taken forward in a proportionate, sensitive and practical way, taking prevailing conditions into account.
  • To support a return to short and full inspections, Ofsted will be undertaking some pilot inspections to determine whether the EIF and the handback need to be tweaked or adapted in light of Covid. Six of these are taking place in the NW (24 nationally) in April and May. It is unlikely full inspections will take place until these are completed
  • Ofsted will resume New Provider Monitoring Visits from 15 March onwards
  • Progress monitoring visits to providers who have received a monitoring visit previously but who are awaiting a full inspection will cease from 15 March, unless there are safeguarding concerns or a perceived breakdown in leadership and management
  • Monitoring Visits will be undertaken by two HMIs. Ofsted Inspectors will only participate where a specialist inspector is required
  • All inspections will happen in a Covid safe way. The lead inspector will discuss this in the pre-inspection call to understand the situation prior to visit. Inspectors will follow guidelines and take Covid tests prior to the monitoring visit. Results of lateral flow tests will be shared with the provider being inspected to assuage any concerns.
  • Some elements of New Provider Monitoring Visits will be taken forward on-site. New Provider Monitoring Visits will involve some face-to-face / on-site work as well as remote work.

Safeguarding, mental health and well being of learners and provider staff will be a continued theme of Ofsted work moving forward. Mental health, from a raft of provider visits, has been flagged up as a huge issue during Covid. Ofsted will be keen to see how providers have adapted support and the curriculum to help learners look after their mental health, remain in learning and achieve.

Changes to Liverpool PREVENT Referral Pathway

The Liverpool PREVENT Referral Pathway for individuals who are believed to be vulnerable to or at risk of radicalisation has changed.

PREVENT is a safeguarding function. As such, the local authority has a duty and obligation to prevent and stop any abuse or neglect and ensure that all vulnerable adults or children are appropriately safeguarded.

Before the establishment of this new referral pathway, Liverpool PREVENT referrals were made solely and directly to Counter Terrorism (CT) Policing.

The new referral pathway ensures that local authority staff are made aware of any PREVENT referrals at the same time as CT Policing colleagues. In this way, associated safeguarding risks can be assessed at the first point of contact.  

Local authority staff are responsible for assessing and addressing the safeguarding risk. CT Police colleagues are responsible for the assessment and management of the Counter-Terrorism (CT) Risk.

There are links below to the new PREVENT referral form and a document about ‘How to make a PREVENT referral’, which contains information specifically about the referral of children and their perceived level of need.

All Liverpool PREVENT referrals (as of 04/03/21) should now be made using this pathway.  

For further information, please contact Declan Sammin, Prevent Engagement Officer, Liverpool City Council T: 0151 233 0343  M 07394559105  [email protected]

Liverpool PREVENT Referral Form

How Do I Make A Referral

Unfunded learners: ESFA request more information

GMLPF has been discussing the increased numbers of unfunded learners with the ESFA, other northern networks, and AELP.

Anecdotally, it seems members who deliver apprenticeships have seen a significant increase in unfunded learners (and more learners on breaks in learning). This is due to learners being unable to complete functional skills, occupationally relevant exams or EPA.

The issue was raised with ESFA again today in a Northern Skills Network meeting, with reference to a looming crisis for large parts of the sector.

ESFA have now asked us to provide tangible examples of the difficulties providers (colleges and ITPs) are having due to the pandemic and lockdowns. So, could I urgently ask if you could provide me with some examples (the whats, whys and impacts) of how providers are suffering from:

  • High levels of unfunded learners – please give the approximate percentage of learners who are unfunded; is this figure increasing?
  • Early leavers – have you seen a deterioration in retention rate; what the reasons are for this?
  • EPA backlogs – are you seeing a backlog; is this in particular sectors eg I am aware it is a particular issue in hairdressing?
  • FSQ (English & maths) assessment delays – is this an issue?
  • Barriers to completing license to operate qualifications – is this an issue; is it specific to certain sectors ie I am aware that the need to pass a driving test may hinder completion of transport related Apprenticeships
  • Has/will the increase in unfunded learners affect your organisation’s finances and accounts this year and, in turn, impact on your ESFA financial assessment? I ask this question with the RoTAP refresh in mind, and the need to flag this up and convince the ESFA that the financial assessment may need to be more relaxed this year.
  • Any other issues which you think would be of value ie what is the monthly monetary cost associated with increasing numbers of unfunded learners

It would be helpful if you could e-mail by return to [email protected]  any useful intelligence so that I can share it with NSN who can then share it with ESFA and raise it with ministers.

Update from LCR Apprenticeship-focussed meeting of ESB

GMLPF attended a sub-group of the Employment and Skills Board last week that looked specifically at Apprenticeships in the LCR. The purpose of the meeting was to allow the CA to understand what was working well, what was working less well and what could be done better.

Whilst the above points were useful for group discussion GMLPF made a number of strong points that it felt the CA needed to be aware of, both for its local work but also lobbying of DfE and ESFA. These included:

  • The need for a clear vision for Apprenticeships locally – not another strategy rather a simple set of agreed principles around which providers, stakeholders and employers could cohere and which would provide a point of sail for the next few years
  • The need to boost SME demand for Apprenticeships as much as possible at the moment whilst continuing to support the process of Levy transfer. The LCR CA area has traditionally started more Apprenticeships than it would do on a population share basis. Much of this was driven by SMEs. Decreased SME participation in the Apprenticeship programme however caused by a number of factors including less non-levy allocation, the complexities of the Employer Account (and to some extent the cap of 10) has driven down starts locally, in particular for 16-18-year-olds. The LCR CA has done some valuable work in facilitating unspent levy transfers which has been welcome but this rarely benefits the smaller SME bracket of employers or 16-18 year olds. If we want a model that encourages the participation of all age groups then more needs to be done locally to boost SME involvement in the City region and a loosening of the current cap levels.
  • A closer and more operations driven working relationship between GMLPF and the Be-More team was suggested to support the above and to be better able to link employers and providers where training needs exist. Current levels of co-operation aren’t sufficient to retain all of the opportunities they source within the local provider base.
  • The need to protect Traineeships and promote pre-Apprenticeship provision for 16-18-year-olds
  • The local and national policy shift is towards higher-level technical qualifications, which is understood and creating excellent technical education opportunities locally. To achieve this, it requires investment in the provider base and, reflecting on the recent FE White Paper, opportunities for all providers to be able to secure skills capital funding. It was made clear that ITPs are significantly disadvantaged in this regard as the FE White Paper and previous tendering rounds (bar the last one which was managed by the CA) has limited ITP access to this funding stream.

A further follow-up meeting will look at how we can, through closer collaboration, look to stimulate demand for Apprenticeships.


Challenging the Notion of Business As Usual

A number of members have flagged up a concern that funders and Ofsted believe that providers are much better placed to accommodate the challenges of lockdown #3 and that it is almost business as usual. This has been a notion that GMLPF has been keen to challenge.

In a recent meeting with Ofsted, GMLPF pointed out that lockdown #3 was throwing up a range of issues (raised by members recently) that were impacting on providers’ ability to deliver and complete training programme successfully, not least:

  • Lockdown #3 was seeing a significant increase in the number of staff and learners (or members of their immediate family) contracting Covid or having to self isolate and that this, unlike the other 2 lockdowns, was presenting a much greater challenge for providers’ ability to deliver learning as effectively as in previous lockdowns
  • Digital Poverty – whilst there had been some welcome developments in the ability to source IT kit and broadband access for students on Study Programme and AEB locally in the LCR other programmes such as Apprenticeships were far more affected and significant numbers of learners still lacked access to IT equipment to be able to learn remotely. It was made clear that providers had loaned out equipment where possible and were designing alternative approaches to engagement and delivery where learners did not have access.
  • Loss of Appetite for Learning – the increased prevalence of Covid, both positive cases as well as increased numbers requiring self-isolation, in the run-up to lockdown # 3 as well as the practicalities of managing lockdown ie home education has seen a decreased appetite for learning from employers and learners impacting on starts but also retention
  • Functional Skills and EPA – whilst acknowledging that there had been some freedoms and flexibilities Ofsted needed to be aware that in many sectors those flexibilities did not go far enough and that many learners were simply unable to complete. This could be because assessments needed to take place in a work setting which was now closed because of lockdown , work coaches were now deployed elsewhere, practical exams ie driving tests not being possible resulting in learners not being able to complete etc
  • Increases in Unfunded Learners & Increasing Risk of Learner Drop Out  – because of FS and EPA issues in the main, many learners were now unfunded (talks with providers suggests that this can be as high as 30% currently) which was impacting significantly on providers. This also raises provider caseloads as new learners come on programme. However, some providers have also reported that delays in EPA are impacting the motivation of learners to remain on programme and complete. In particular, this appears to be impacting Apprentices who want to move on to National Minimum Wage from Apprenticeship Wage and who are actively looking for alternative work.

I promised to provide an update to Paul Cocker and Bev Barlow around some of the above points. If members have any useful examples to share, in support of the above points, I would be grateful if you could drop me a short note and I can weave them in (anonymised) into the update for Ofsted.

Local Skills Report and Skills Action Plan 2021/22

GMLPF represents members on the local Employment & Skills Board. The ESB is required by Government to publish a Local Skills Plan for 2021/22 which sets out the current needs and opportunities in the City Region together with a Skills Action Plan to address these issues. In recent years, the LCR CA has produced a series of Skills Investment Statements which have done largely the same job, to identify the key trends and employment and skills needs that providers locally and nationally should respond to.

The Local Skills Report is largely analytical and is based upon the summary presentation on the current labour market. There is a lot of detail that Government guidance dictates must be in the plan but the LCR CA is keen to obtain feedback from stakeholders and our members on the plan as it stands. The current working draft sets out this data and narrative: we are still working on a number of the issues that you have raised over recent weeks e.g. what support is available for 18-year-olds, updated sectoral actions. Alongside the plan is a template for feedback which you can complete and return should you so wish.

The deadline for feedback is Wednesday 6 January 2021. The feedback will then be discussed at the next ESB meeting on the 20th January 2021.

In order to obtain a clear sector-wide view on the plan as it stands, GMLPF will hold a consultation session next week. I propose to hold that on Wednesday 17th December at 11.30 for an hour. I will give a quick overview of the plan but will be focusing on getting feedback from members on the strengths, weaknesses and gaps within the plan and looking at the consultation questions. Please feel free to join us and apologies for the short notice but this is being driven by external factors.

I would urge you to book onto this consultation as this plan will shape and inform investment in skills over the coming year. We must ensure that it is fit for purpose.

Book now


The Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices

We know that the Covid-19 outbreak has had a seismic effect on the economy. Some apprentices have been made redundant without completing their apprenticeships, while others are at risk of redundancy. To support these apprentices, the Department for Education has recently launched the Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices.

The service provides clear, accessible advice and guidance to individuals on the impact of redundancy, their options and next steps.

The service is made up of three main elements:

  • Providing apprentices with advice and guidance on the impact of redundancy
  • Signposting apprentices to local and national support services
  • An apprenticeship vacancy sharing service to make redundant apprentices aware of new opportunities

Are you aware of an employer who would like to recruit a redundant apprentice or offer new apprenticeship opportunities? If you cannot help them yourselves, please ask them to visit Hiring an apprentice who has been made redundant or call 0800 015 0600 to find out more.

If you are aware of any apprentices who have been made redundant, and you are unable to help them, please encourage them to visit Facing redundancy during your apprenticeship or call 0800 015 0400 to speak to an adviser.

Please also share the YouTube video which provides details on the Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices, explaining what the service is, the benefits and how to access it.

There is also content for websites and social media, prepared for different audiences which providers may want to use themselves.