On the 4th November the Dfe announced additional funding for P16-19 Education
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“We want all young people to have access to high-quality education and training that will set them on the path to a rewarding career. Next year colleges and school sixth forms will benefit from a significant £400 million funding boost to help them to do this.”
And, “An extra £65 million will be targeted to help cover the cost of delivering courses in six key, more expensive subject areas, and an additional £55 million will be allocated for delivering high value courses – those that deliver the skills the country needs for the future and which lead to higher wages for students.” This is welcome news for the FE sector which has suffered from long term under-investment.
However, NSEAD is dismayed that Creative arts are not included in the list of 'expensive subject areas' and that this funding has been awarded according to a so called ‘ High Value Courses Premium’ that excludes many areas of study - including most Art & Design and Expressive Arts courses. We believe that the basis for the High Value Courses Premium is fundamentally flawed and directly undermines the stated intention of this announcement. By excluding the vast majority of creative arts courses, this funding ignores the true contribution to the economy of graduates from creative design, and the importance of the creative economy to the prosperity of the UK.
We reject the premise that courses in the creative arts do not deliver the skills that the country needs for the future. We take issue with the implication that careers in the creative arts are not ‘rewarding’. We challenge the use of data and definitions of value that are both incomplete and narrow in their terms of reference.
Earlier this year a presentation was made to the Art Craft and Design APPG by Gordon McKenzie from Guild HE pointing out the limitations of outcome based success measures.
A report by London Economics, identified in a report jointly commissioned by GuildHE and the HEAD Trust highlighted critical gaps in the data and strongly cautioned against using LEO as the only indicator of graduate success in the labour market. The report identified the limitations of LEO data when used to judge outcomes for graduates in the creative arts for leaving out factors that have a significant influence on earnings and employment. In particular;
● LEO data only covers graduates’ earnings and employment in the early stages of their careers;
● LEO data provides incomplete and potentially inaccurate data on earnings from self-employment.
The Ad-hoc notice Post 16 education: earnings outcomes for level 3 achievements that accompanied the DFE's announcement, explaining how the ‘High value’ rating has been defined, carries a health warning on it’s own data:
‘The estimates should therefore be treated with a degree of caution as there is a large amount of unexplained variation in the data.’
Why has this data been used as the basis for such a signifcant funding policy?
We would also ask how this funding announcement is addressing the priorities set out in the Government’s Industry Strategy, which fully recognises the importance of the creative economy.
Earlier this year, NSEAD was a signatory to the open letter to Gavin Williamson,
led by the Creative Industries Federation drawing his attention to the dangers of a skills shortage.
“The creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the UK economy, and employ more than 2 million people. Jobs in the sector are growing at three times the UK average, and analysis by Nesta outlines that with proper investment an additional one million creative jobs could be added to the UK economy by 2030. But it is estimated that there are more than 77,000 roles that are unfilled or which require additional skills.”
This new funding policy takes no account of this growing skills gap. We call upon the DFE to review the list of High Value Courses and the criteria on which the premium is based.
Art & Design and Expressive Arts courses feed the creative economy. They are high cost to deliver, but are of high value to our economy and society at large. It is disturbing that such a significant funding decision is based on data that the DFE accepts is limited and incomplete, and that ignores the evidence about the skills needs of the sector, and the crucial contribution that the creative industries continue to make.
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