AELP responds to Ofsted’s autumn 2021 research on education recovery in further education and skills


  • Today, Ofsted have published research on education recovery in further education and skills providers, based on inspections conducted in autumn 2021
  • Report highlights remarkable resilience of providers to support their learners, despite ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Ofsted’s findings back up AELP’s calls for catch-up funding in work-based FE settings, along with extended flexibilities, as the pandemic continues to significantly impact learning

New research undertaken by Ofsted has shone a light on the ways in which the pandemic continues to disrupt further education and skills. The Inspectorate have today published findings on education recovery in further education and skills providers, based on inspections conducted between 1-19 November 2021. This means the report will not fully cover the extent to which new restrictions and rising COVID-19 cases are impacting the sector.

The report covers both how the pandemic continues to impact on learners’ learning and development, and how providers are helping learners to catch-up. It is clear from the findings that providers are going above and beyond for learners at their own cost, despite stark concerns about their own financial sustainability. This has included delivering repeat learning and providing additional training, as well as having to extend programmes.

Other key issues highlighted include disruption caused by lower attendance, lower levels of learner motivation, gaps in learner support and significant frustration in delays to assessment. Sadly, poor mental health and well-being concerns among learners continues to increase. Providers also noted that some staff had poorer mental health due to the additional demands on their role to support learners during the past few years.

Throughout the pandemic, AELP have consistently highlighted the lack of parity in treatment for independent training providers and their ability to access government support, along with the need for catch-up funding for work-based learners.

Jane Hickie, Chief Executive of AELP, said:

“Sadly, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. It continues to have a significant negative impact on learners and their employers, and will inevitably get worse over the coming weeks and months, with rising cases and further restrictions. It is therefore essential that the government commit to ongoing flexibilities, so the work-based learning sector can continue to support learners and employers, limiting disruption and allowing high quality training and assessment to continue.

Ofsted’s report shines a light on the continued impact the pandemic is having on learners and providers. The fact work-based learners have been unable to access catch-up funding is frankly a disgrace, and needs addressing as a matter of urgency.

If the government are serious about building back better- with a suitably skilled workforce- following the pandemic, they will take AELP’s calls for extended flexibilities and catch-up funding for work-based learners seriously”.




The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is a national membership body, proudly representing around 800 organisations that deliver training and vocational learning. Our members support thousands of businesses and millions of learners in England by delivering a wide range of training, vocational learning, and employability programmes. AELP members support training to all ages, in every community, and at every level of post-16 study.

For further information or for interviews please contact Matt Strong, Communications Manager, AELP, on 0117 986 5389 or [email protected]

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