Essex Children’s Service Authority
Opportunity and excellence for every
Strategy for the 14-19 phase of education and training
(Updated February 2006)
Opportunity and excellence for every Essex learner
This strategy document is the product of a two year process of planning and consultation with all
the local stakeholders in this important phase of education and training. Initial debate took place in
the long established post-16 working group comprising nominees of the Association of Secondary
Heads in Essex (ASHE) and senior representatives of Learning and SkillsCouncil, Essex (LSC)
and Essex Children’s Services Authority (CSA). This was followed by a consultation with all
secondary and special school Heads, the Federation of Essex Colleges (FEDEC), LSC Essex,
EST Connexions and a range of other partners including local work-based learning and higher
An initial draft was agreed and circulated widely in June 2004. The current document builds on and
extends that work, offering a plan and framework to take the agenda forward to 2008 when a Joint
Area Review of the Authority is anticipated.
A 14-19 vision for Essex
By 2008 all 14-19 year olds will benefit from high quality, impartial guidance and
access to appealing and appropriate provision which fully meets their needs. Learning
opportunities will be extended through collaborative working between providers, the
Authority, LSC Essex, EST Connexions and others as no one institution can provide
for the full range of needs. 14-19 provision will be characterised by increasingly high
levels of performance which enable learners to successfully progress to further and
higher education and employment. In helping to develop the capabilities of young
people the strategy will contribute to the Essex regeneration agenda and will impact
upon the skills needs of employers.
1.1 The DfES set out a vision, medium and long term plans for the 14-19 phase in its document
14-19 Opportunity and Excellence published in January 2003 following a wide-ranging Green
Paper consultation in 2002.
1.2 The DfES case for reform highlighted a number of issues including the proportions of pupils
not achieving the 5 A*- C GCSE ‘benchmark’ and the small but persistent minority who leave
at 16 with no qualifications. Concerns about modest staying on rates beyond 16 (by
international standards) and the relatively low status of the vocational and work-based routes
were also expressed.
1.3 Following this diagnosis, DfES proposed some very significant reforms with potentially far
reaching effects upon schools, colleges, training providers and employers. Amongst the more
significant proposals in the DfES document were the following:-
A much reduced compulsory core for 14-16 year old learners from 2004; new or
extended vocational provision and accreditation, in some cases for delivery
through institutional partnerships;
An attempt to boost the work-based route through an exponential growth in
take-up of Apprenticeships and new Entry to Employment (E2E) provision;
Long term root and branch reform of 14-19 qualifications and assessment, to be
recommended by a national 14-19 working group, chaired by Mike Tomlinson.
1.4 The Tomlinson group produced its final report in October 2004 recommending an
evolutionary phasing out for GCSE and A level in favour of a system of unified Diplomas,
amongst other proposals.
1.5 The 2005 14-19: Learning and Skills White Paper however proposed to retain GCSE and
A level at least in the medium term. However, it still features a number of significant proposals
such as a system of Diplomas for learners following vocational programmes and extensions of
Apprenticeship models into key stage four. The document also reiterates the extension of the
national KS3 strategy into a secondary strategy with an emphasis on personalised learning.
The White Paper marks the current Government position on 14-19 reform.
1.6 In parallel with 14-19 Opportunity and Excellence, the DfES has set out its plans for further
education and training, Success for All. These plans embrace greater clarity about the mission
of individual providers, improvements in the quality of teaching and training and a revised
quality assurance regime including more autonomy for successful institutions.
1.7 The Youth Matters Green Paper published by DfES in July 2005 signals more integrated
work between agencies providing informal learning and development activities for young
people. It promotes, amongst other things, a growth in volunteering and positive contributions to
the community by 13-19 year olds. DfES is due to publish a ‘next steps’ document early in
1.8 Underpinning much of the reform thrust described in this section are the five outcomes from
the Every Child Matters document, incorporated into the Childrens Act (2004). These five
outcomes provide the structure for Joint Area Reviews of children’s services. Some, such as
‘Achieve Economic well-being’ are particularly relevant to the 14-19 strategy. A related, key
initiative is the DFES Valuing People document which deals with the need to offer effective
transitions of 14-16 and beyond for young people with special needs.
1.9 As the 14-19 phase cuts across schools, colleges, training providers and employers the
scope of reform goes well beyond the remit of any one stakeholder. The Learning and Skills
Councils (LSC) are the key players in this field. Forty seven local LSCs were set up in 2001 with
a current national budget approaching £10 billions. LSCs are presently undergoing a substantial
restructuring with a number of functions being administered regionally rather than at local
4.1 It is difficult to give a fully accurate picture of numbers of 14-19 students currently in
education and training in the Essex area as, in practice, some (mostly post- 16) ‘commute’ for their
education across Authority, and even county, boundaries. This in itself complicates the picture
meaning, for example, that some young people may have difficulties in accessing their provision of
choice from within the boundaries of Essex. However current information shows the following
Of the 80 secondary schools, 45 have sixth forms, with just over 9,000 students studying full
time ‘A’ Level and vocational courses;
Approximately 32,000 14-16 year old pupils follow a full-time curriculum in the 80 secondary
schools. A small, but growing, minority of these spend part of their week learning on the
premises of colleges, training providers or employers. Best estimates of numbers suggest
about 2000 are involved in these programmes. Given current national policies these
numbers are likely to increase substantially ;
Approximately 510 students follow 14-16 or 14-19 curricula appropriate to their needs in
Special schools within the Authority area. These schools, currently experiencing a period of
structural change, cater for a variety of age ranges, some 5-16, others 5-19, yet others 11-19
years. There are, of course, many young people with a statement of special educational
needs who are on the rolls of mainstream secondary schools: current figures (2005) indicate
574 students in key stage 4 and a further 77 in sixth forms. Over and above these numbers,
114 young people are educated in specialist facilities outside Essex;
Overall ‘staying on’ rates in schools and colleges in Essex are in line with national averages,
but in some localities, especially the more deprived areas, participation in education/training
beyond 16 is unacceptably low;
There are two sixth form colleges and a further six F.E. colleges whose main operation falls
within the boundaries of the Authority area. Within (geographical) Essex there are
approximately 19,000 16-19 year old full-time college students, many following similar
courses to their counterparts in schools, but with greater emphasis on vocational study in the
colleges. All colleges are very largely funded by the LSC, and in practice they have many
other students also – adults and/or those on part-time courses;
A relatively small but growing percentage of students progress to training opportunities
beyond the age of 16 with work-based learning providers. Figures indicate that about 3,000
16-19 year olds are engaged in these programmes, across (geographical) Essex.
4.2 This is an extremely complex context which has evolved over time. It became further
complicated by a competitive environment, with autonomous colleges and independently-
minded schools offering provision which featured both duplication and gaps in certain areas.
However, there has been a significant increase in institutions working collaboratively to
provide a wider range of opportunities over the past four years. Issues such as availability
of suitable public transport links potentially mitigate against the ability of young people to
access their chosen provision. The Strategy has had to recognise the current and evolving
context as the starting point, mindful of the sometimes competing priorities of a wide range
of stakeholders and vested interests. The Strategy will also have implications for school
design and capital building programmes and will need to link with the Building Schools for
the Future (BSF) development.
5 Who are the local stakeholders in addition to the providers?
5.1 The local Learning and Skills Council is LSC Essex. Its remit covers the whole of
geographical Essex including the Southend and Thurrock Unitary Authority areas. It has set out its
Strategic Plan for 2003- 2006, linked to the achievement of local 14-19 performance benchmarks,
derived from national targets. This strategy will have to take those plans into account. In practice,
the LSC, through its powers derived from the Learning and Skills Act (2001), is in a powerful
position regarding provision beyond 16. It has overall responsibility for the planning and funding of
all post-16 provision outside Higher Education and, through Strategic Area Reviews (StARS) and
other strategies, it will shape the future of provision for the 14-19 phase and beyond. The LSC also
has a key role in ensuring that young people with LLDD can access suitable provision through, for
example, an ‘Improving Choices’ Pathfinder initiative. This aspiration is likely to be challenging and
will require coherent, strategic level action with a range of partners. The LSC has overseen a
rolling programme of StARS of post-14 provision. In geographical Essex there were five StARS in
total. Their purpose was to ensure that learners have access to high quality, safe and accessible
learning opportunities capable of meeting their needs and those of employers and local
communities. With the process complete the LSC has now published its response: Making it
Happen (2005) and has, with the Authority, established broad-based 14-19 Area Planning Groups
across Essex to produce curriculum plans and proposals to meet the needs of local learners.
These groups are seen as the key strategic fora for taking forward local 14-19 change and are
charged with producing an Implementation Plan and an area curriculum prospectus oopportunities.
5.2 Essex County Council, as the Children’s Services Authority (CSA), in common with all
Authorities, is a significant stakeholder in 14-19 education in a number of ways. Services
relevant to the 14-19 phase include:
Advice and inspection;
Capital programmes and building development;
Connexions targeted service;
Planning and admissions;
Pupil support; (including the Traveller Education Service)
Special needs and psychology service;
Student financial support;
Education Welfare service;
Youth service (including the Young Carers’ service);
Youth offending service.
The CSA has a formal relationship with the local LSC. For example the contract for sixth form
funding is with the Authority rather than individual schools. Through its planning and admission
duties it will also be expected to work with the LSC Essex and providers in planning for, and
managing the consequences of, any structural changes emerging from Making it Happen. The
Authority is committed to promoting effective, coherent 14-19 provision whilst respecting the
autonomy of individual providers. Essex CSA, through its Advisory and School Improvement and
Special Needs and Psychology Services also has a key role in supporting and challenging schools,
to ensure that the quality of education provided is the best it can be and that standards are high.
Part of this function is to work with schools to further develop their capacity as self evaluative
institutions. Close links have been established between the Authority and LSC Essex over the past
four years, now developed into a four-way partnership which also includes Southend and Thurrock
5.3 In this evolving situation, with far more curriculum flexibility, and therefore possible choices for
students to make, good quality advice and guidance is more vital than ever before. The local
guidance service is provided by the Essex, Southend and Thurrock (EST) Connexions
Partnership. EST Connexions is the local representation of the national service which provides
information, advice, guidance and support services for all 13-19 year olds. In Essex it was
launched in September 2002.
6 Pan Essex 14-19 Learner Entitlement
NB The Authority adopts the ‘Pan Essex’ learner entitlement, also endorsed by LSC Essex and Southend and
Thurrock Authorities, in the interest of consistency and coherence across the county. This statement fully reflects the
learner entitlement, first drafted in the June 2004 Strategy document.
Pan Essex 14-19 Learner Entitlement
We aim to put the learner at the centre of all that we do. All young people, regardless of where they live, where they
learn or which learning pathway they follow, should be able to benefit from a choice of high quality, appropriate and
diverse provision which can be tailored to their individual needs. The pan Essex 14-19 learner offer will focus primarily
on three key areas:
Learning and Teaching; and
Information, Advice and Guidance.
Every young person should have access to:
A choice of high quality, coherent and engaging programmes of learning that:
- Reflects their aspirations and local need and opportunity
- Supports young people to progress along pathways leading from Key Stage 4
to skilled employment, apprenticeships and/or Higher Education
-Is flexible enough to enable learners to change their goals and make progress at
their own pace
Independent advice and guidance both ongoing and at key decision-making points that supports young
people to access the right opportunities and to progress at an appropriate rate, with additional support available to
vulnerable and at risk young people
High quality teaching, training, assessment and feedback and academic support during their learning
Access to sporting and creative opportunities and to wider experiences that draw on the cultural, sporting
and business resources of Essex and surrounding areas.
The Pan Essex 14-19 learner offer will allow young people to access the curriculum at all levels as and when
appropriate: entry, foundation, intermediate and advanced.
Generic curriculum entitlement for 14-19
Enrichment activities (creative, recreational, cultural, volunteering and sporting activities)
Learning support in ICT, numeracy and literacy
Independent study skills and study support
Research and decision making skills
5-10 level 1 courses offering access to level 2 in different vocational/occupational areas
Programmes relevant to needs of learners with additional learning needs e.g. life skills, NVQ1
Individual curriculum to support young people with learning difficulties and disabilities
GCSEs in a broad range of National Curriculum subjects, including GCSEs in vocational subjects
Other specialist level 2 qualifications e.g. BTEC
Level 2 Apprenticeships in 5-10 occupational areas
AS/A2s in at least 15-20 areas at each level
Vocational A levels in 4-6 areas
Other level 3 specialist qualifications such as BTEC Nationals
Level 3 Apprenticeships in 5-10 occupational areas
Teaching and Learning
All learners will experience high-quality learning supported by good teaching across all providers. Rigorous self-
assessment and review will be at the heart of the quality assurance framework within which schools, colleges and
other providers operate. There will be a commitment to work with providers to develop and implement a common
quality assurance framework.
All learners will have access to:
An Individual Learning Plan, setting out key objectives and support that will be available
A means of recording their achievements, which can be moved from one provider to another
A way to provide feedback on their experience of education and training, by responding to regular surveys
and course evaluation.
All learners will experience:
Teaching and/or training that responds to their individual needs, prior learning and aspirations
High-quality ICT facilities.
Information, Advice and Guidance
If we are to ensure that all learners are able to make choices that support them to achieve their potential, we need to
provide the right levels of information, advice and guidance. In developing this area, we will of course take account
proposals to be set out in the Youth Green Paper, to be published shortly.
All learners will have access to:
Independent information, advice and guidance that is clear, coherent, of high quality, comprehensive and impartial
Local and regional information on the options available
Support at key decision-making points (14/16/18); and through transition to education, training and employment
Clear mechanisms by which to voice concerns where provision is not meeting their needs
An advocate for young people especially those who are vulnerable
Support for those young people with particular learning needs through the assessment processes
Implementing the 14-19 Learner Offer
The pan Essex 14-19 learner offer is intended as a framework for local models. For the offer to become a reality for all
young people all those involved in the planning and delivery of education and training will need to build on current
developments and partnerships.
The pan Essex 14-19 learner offer will frame our work to:
Widen the curriculum offer and learning experience for all young people, focusing on their needs
Facilitate local offers that draw on the specialisms and particular expertise of different providers
Clarify the roles and responsibilities of all partners in order to reduce unnecessary duplication
of provision and ensure clear accountabilities
Plan provision and resource allocation
Develop appropriate coordination and management structures
Build on the innovations developed by the 14-19 Pathfinders and the Increased Flexibility
Support the process of change and development across providers and areas
Prepare the ground for longer-term reforms, announced in the White Paper in 2005.
Some actions will need to be tackled pan-Essex, whilst others will have a very local flavour, led by the individual 14-19
Area Planning Groups. All will need a commitment from all partners to transforming 14-19 education and training
across the area.
Realising the 14-19 vision and the learner entitlement
We will achieve this over time through the following strategic objectives.
Ensuring that all young people can readily access a choice of high quality, coherent and engaging
programmes of learning, meeting their needs and those of the local community. Access to all 14 specialised
Diplomas will be available as they come on stream from 2008
Promoting and fostering collaboration between local providers to widen the range of opportunities to learners;
Ensuring that all learners have access to high quality, impartial advice and guidance to enable them to
make informed choices and stay in structured learning beyond 16.
Working with providers and strategic partners to ensure that young people experience high quality teaching
and training, quality assured by effective self evaluation and external monitoring, as appropriate.
Ensuring that all learners have opportunities to develop skills for adult and working life, including
competence in enterprise, analysis, problem solving, thinking skills and financial literacy.
Ensuring that young people with special educational needs and those facing other difficulties, have access
to high quality provision and learning support suited to their needs. A particular focus will be ensuring that
Looked After Children have access to good quality, appropriate provision.
Working with LSC, Connexions, providers and other partners to develop a strategic framework for 14-19
learning which ensures that the local pattern of provision in Essex is configured to best meet young people’s
needs, providing a range of settings within which to learn.
Essex 14-19 Strategy Management Structure
Children and YP Strategic 14-19 Senior Policy 14-19 Policy Executive
Partnership Board with Executive Group (SPG) Group (PEG): pan-
Steering Group Chief Executive - level Essex
and Stakeholder Forum reps:- Chief Executive – level
- LA reps:-
- LSC Essex
- EST Connexions, Southend LAs
- ASHE EST Connexions
- FEDEC LSC
11 Local CYPSPS - Work-based
25 Local Delivery Groups (LDG)
Pan Essex Strategic Group
- Above organisations
- Chairs of Area Planning
Groups (see below)
Additional Needs 9 X 14-19 Area Planning Groups
Group (pan Essex)