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Written Statements

Volume 720: debated on Tuesday 18 October 2022

Written Statements

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Education

Post-16 Level 2 and below qualifications update

Today, I am pleased to announce the next stage in the Government’s review of post-16 qualifications at level 2 and below1 in England—the publication of the response to our consultation on the review of qualifications that are approved for public funding at these levels. After confirming our reforms to level 3 qualifications last year, we are now confirming our policy on qualifications at level 2 and below following our consultation which ran from 2 March to 27 April 2022.

This is a vital next step towards reforming and revitalising technical education. Streamlining and improving post-16 education and skills is at the heart of our plan to strengthen the economy and create jobs. Students and employers will benefit from a joined-up, dynamic education system that can adapt to rapidly changing priorities.

The current qualification landscape at level 2 and below is complex, and while many of the qualifications are likely to be excellent, it is not a consistent picture. Qualifications that are funded in future should be necessary, high quality and have a distinct purpose. Crucially, these qualifications should also support progression to successful outcomes for the students who take them, whether this is into a higher level of study, or directly into skilled employment. In a fast-moving and modern economy, it is vital that we bridge the gap between what people study and the needs of employers.

To mirror the approach we have taken at level 3, we have grouped qualifications at level 2 and below according to their primary purpose. By clarifying the purpose of each qualification, we will enable students to see how their choice of qualification will lead to a positive outcome, whether this is to further study or directly into employment. Further education colleges, schools, other providers and careers advisers will play a key role in delivering information, advice and guidance to prospective students to ensure they are directed towards a qualification that will meet their needs.

I would like to thank those who took the time to respond to our consultation.2 Among the 410 responses, there was strong support for the aim of simplifying the qualification landscape and improving the quality of provision, and for the groups of qualifications we proposed to fund in future. Other themes from the consultation responses included: the importance of flexibility for students studying at these levels; the potential impact of reducing qualification choice on students from disadvantaged backgrounds and with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND); and the need for a phased approach to the timing and sequencing of the reforms.

The response we are publishing today confirms that we will fund all of the qualification groups proposed, proceed with setting national standards for personal, social and employability (PSE) qualifications and consulting on these, and consider updating the national standards for adult literacy and numeracy. We have made changes to allow greater flexibility, for example allowing providers to offer level 2 qualifications leading to employment to 16 to 19-year-olds in less than two years, depending on the size of the reformed qualification and how it fits alongside the other essential elements of the study programme.

As the aim of this reform is to improve qualification provision at level 2 and below, we expect students over-represented at this level such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds or with SEND to be the biggest recipients of the benefits of these changes. We will work with the sector to explore how best to support students to progress by having flexibilities in place to ensure students with SEND can access our proposed qualification groups. We will also regularly review the mix and balance of qualifications approved to ensure we are meeting the needs of all learners.

We have reviewed the implementation timeline and, while we want momentum, we also want to introduce these reforms at a manageable pace for schools and colleges, given the extent of change to the wider qualifications landscape, including at level 3. That is why we are making sure first reformed qualifications at level 2 and below will be available for teaching from September 2025 rather than 2024. Further reformed qualifications will be phased in for 2026, with final reforms in 2027.

I look forward to engaging with the sector as we implement these important reforms.

1 For definitions of levels, see https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qualification-levels-mean/list-of-qualification-levels

2 As previously set out, GCSEs, Functional Skills Qualifications (FSQs) and Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQs) were not in scope of this consultation.

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Home Department

Casey Review: Police Dismissals

In September we saw the very best of British policing, in the planning, handling and delivery of the operation following the death of Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. It showed that, at the top of its game, British policing is world-class and I commend all of the thousands of officers and staff who made that happen. But in recent years there have been several high-profile failings. These failings substantially diminished public trust in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), and undermine the incredible work of the overwhelming majority of decent, hard-working, and professional, frontline police officers.

The Metropolitan Police Service commissioned a review by Baroness Louise Casey into the culture and standards of the Metropolitan Police Service. Interim findings have now been reported to the MPS and are highly concerning. They set out a failure of the MPS to operate within the existing misconduct framework, and failures to adequately tackle instances of sexual misconduct and discrimination.

The impetus and action to deliver change must come from within the MPS first and foremost—and the Government welcome Sir Mark Rowley’s determination to take a systematic approach to act on the findings through both robust enforcement and long-term prevention. Where there is a role for Government to support this, we will not hesitate to act. That is why I am announcing an internal review into the process of police dismissals to raise standards and confidence in policing across England and Wales.

The Government will work closely with key policing stakeholders to examine evidence of the effectiveness of the system to remove those who are not fit to serve the public. As well as examining the overall effectiveness of dismissal arrangements, I expect the review to consider:

the impact of the introduction of legally qualified chairs to decide misconduct cases;

whether decisions made by misconduct panels are consistent across all 43 forces in England and Wales;

and whether forces are making effective use of their powers to dismiss officers on probation.

This focused review will be launched shortly and will be conducted swiftly. It will focus on key issues and will support those in policing who act with utmost professionalism, giving them confidence that their hard work and commitment will not be undone by those who bring their profession into disrepute.

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Statement of Changes in Immigration Rule

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a statement of changes in immigration rules.

The changes include the Afghan relocations and assistance policy (ARAP) immigration rules which clarify that the Ministry of Defence decides eligibility for an Afghan citizen, before an application for entry clearance or settlement is made to the Home Office on their, or an eligible family member’s, behalf.

Additional ARAP family members, who were previously decided outside the immigration rules, have been brought under the rules, and the Afghan ex-gratia scheme, which closes on 30 November 2022, has been removed from the immigration rules from that date.

As part of the new plan for immigration, the Government have made clear for the first time in primary legislation (the Nationality and Borders Act 2022) that confirmed victims of human trafficking or slavery are eligible for temporary permission to stay in the UK, and this is supported by the introduction of the appendix “Temporary permission to stay for victims of human trafficking or slavery”.

The introduction of temporary permission to stay into the immigration rules aligns with the Government’s needs-based approach to support victims of human trafficking or slavery. Temporary permission to stay makes clear that confirmed victims, both adults and children, with psychological and physical recovery needs stemming from their human trafficking or slavery exploitation, are entitled to temporary permission to stay where it is necessary to assist with recovery from the harm caused by their exploitation, subject to the exemptions set out in section 65 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022. These rules also specify that temporary permission to stay may be available to victims who are helping the public authorities with active investigations or criminal proceedings in the UK to bring their exploiters to justice and clarify that those seeking compensation in respect of the relevant exploitation must have made a valid application to be considered for temporary permission to stay.

Temporary permission to stay will go live on 30 January 2023. These rules will allow for clearer decision making and are intended to make decision making a simpler and quicker process.

The seasonal worker visa route is being expanded to include roles in the poultry sector, to support a genuine seasonal labour need in the lead-up to Christmas, not evident in other sectors. Poultry workers under occupation code 5431 (butcher) or 5433 (for example, processor) must be paid at least £25,600 each year. All other poultry workers must be paid £10.10 for each hour worked and receive at least 30 hours’ paid employment each week. These requirements are in place to discourage poor conditions often seen in the sector.

Changes are being made which provide for the refusal and cancellation of entry clearance where a person is subject to a travel ban imposed by the UK or the UN. This will not alter whether the person can enter the UK. It will simply make it easier to achieve the same effect administratively.

Changes are also being made in respect of the Ukraine extension scheme, which enables Ukrainian nationals who held permission to enter or stay in the UK on 18 March 2022 (or who held permission which expired on or after 1 January 2022), to continue their stay in the UK.

These changes will extend the scheme to allow Ukrainian nationals who obtain permission to enter or stay in the UK for any period between 18 March 2022 and 16 May 2023 to apply and obtain 36 months’ permission to stay in the UK. They will also introduce a new requirement to apply to the scheme by 16 November 2023.

Finally, we are also abolishing the requirement for a migrant to register with the police as the police registration scheme in its current form is outdated and no longer provides any public protection benefit to either the Home Office or the police.

Since the scheme was last amended in 1998, changes to the immigration rules and the wider immigration system now mean more individuals are screened before travel to the UK and those of concern can be identified earlier in their interaction with the Home Office. The data a migrant provides to the police on registration is already captured by the Home Office at the visa application stage, and is available to the police on request, so there is no need for it to be provided twice, or for the police to hold such vast amounts of data when they have no need to do so for the majority of law-abiding migrants.

Abolishing the requirement for a migrant to register with the police will therefore reduce the administrative burden on the police, the Home Office and migrants themselves.

These rules have also been simplified in line with the recommendations of the Law Commission report “Simplifying the Immigration Rules” to which the Government responded on 25 March 2020. The necessary changes to the immigration rules are being laid on 18 October 2022. For the changes to the seasonal worker route—inclusion of poultry sector—these will come into effect on 18 October 2022, as there is a short time frame for workers to enter the UK to undertake work in the poultry sector. The closing date for applications for poultry work is 15 November 2022 and the workers are required to leave the UK by 31 December 2022. If the implementation date was later, the concern is workers might not apply as they could consider it not worthwhile for such a short period. This policy has already been communicated to the sector in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs food strategy, so they are prepared and working toward this change.

The changes to simplify the process for giving effect to travel bans, changes to the Ukraine extension scheme and the abolition of the police registration scheme will come into effect on 9 November 2022, the amendments to the Afghan relocations and assistance policy (ARAP) on 30 November 2022 and the introduction of the new appendix “Temporary permission to stay for victims of human trafficking or slavery” on 30 January 2023.

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