ASCL comment on Lifetime Skills Guarantee

11/05/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the government’s announcement in the Queen’s Speech of a Lifetime Skills Guarantee.
 
Responding to the government’s announcement in the Queen’s Speech of a Lifetime Skills Guarantee, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“It is great to see this commitment to giving people the opportunity to train and retrain at any point in their lives. But where are the policies that are needed to ensure that more people get the qualifications that they need first time round?
 
“There is a significant and obdurate attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers which starts right from the early years and which means that many young people end up with reduced life chances.
 
“A concerted effort is needed to tackle this issue by boosting investment in early years education, providing more support to schools that serve the most deprived communities, tackling child poverty, and improving the dire level of government funding for 16-19 education.
 
“And the qualification system itself also desperately needs to be reviewed so that it works well for every young person rather than condemning so many students to a sense of failure.
 
“The Prime Minister talks about providing the rocket fuel for levelling up through this legislative programme but we need more action across education and fewer rhetorical flourishes.
 
“We note also measures for more government powers to intervene in colleges that ‘fail to meet local needs’. It is reasonable that the government should be able to step in if colleges are truly failing learners.
 
“However, that rarely happens in practice and if further education was funded properly in the first place, colleges wouldn’t be in the financial difficulty that many of them currently are.”