Westminster Education Forum

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Reform to 16-19 qualifications in England and developing the Advanced British Standard

Morning, Tuesday, 12th March 2024

This conference will consider the future of the post-16 qualification landscape in England and the implementation of the Government’s proposed Advanced British Standard (ABS).

It follows publication of the Government’s recent consultation on the design and shape of the proposed ABS and the new qualification framework, as well as the Prime Minister’s commitment for all young people to study maths in some form to 18.

Delegates will assess the practicalities of proposed reforms for learners and teachers, and possible qualification options for students with lower academic attainment.

Discussion will also consider the future place of GCSEs at 16, potential alternative assessment models, and options to prepare students for post-16 qualifications and learning.

Looking at strategies for improving the attainment and progression of post-16 learners, the agenda will bring out views of universities, employers and wider stakeholders in designing qualifications that prepare students for higher education and that meet the requirements of the labour market moving forward.

Further sessions focus on teacher recruitment and retention for post-16 education, and the impact of increased teaching hours on the workforce as part of the implementation of the proposed ABS.

We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with: Stella Pearson, Deputy Director, Advanced British Standard, Department for Education; and Andrew Otty, Head of Policy and Partnerships, National Youth Agency.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • Key policy priorities: next steps for the 16-19 qualification framework - moving towards the Advanced British Standard - the future of GCSEs - meeting future skills needs
  • Design and shape of the proposed ABS:
    • balancing academic and technical content - practicalities of increasing teaching hours - creating greater breadth in post-16 learning
    • the potential impact of losing the A-level brand
  • Disadvantaged pupils: strategies for improving outcomes for learners with different needs at 16-19 - improving accessibility of the new suite of qualifications for learners with SEND
  • Post-16 maths and English: assessing the ambition of delivering maths to age 18 - qualification options - delivering choice and support - recruiting and retaining specialist teachers
  • Preparing learners: assessing how well the existing system prepares learners for post-16 study and employment - implementation of reform - options for reform pre-16
  • Alternatives: assessing different policy approaches to the post-16 qualification landscape - alternative assessment options

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from DfE; IfATE; Cabinet Office; CMA; DBT; GLD; HM Treasury; and the Welsh Government.

Keynote Speakers

Stella Pearson

Deputy Director, Advanced British Standard, Department for Education

Andrew Otty

Head of Policy and Partnerships, National Youth Agency

Keynote Speakers

Stella Pearson

Deputy Director, Advanced British Standard, Department for Education

Andrew Otty

Head of Policy and Partnerships, National Youth Agency


Peter Aldous MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Further Education and Lifelong Learning


David Robinson

Director, Post-16 and Skills, Education Policy Institute


Youth Ambassador, Youth Employment UK

Catherine Sezen

Director of Education Policy, Association of Colleges

Mary Curnock Cook

Chair, Dyson Institute and Pearson Education

Paul Steer

Head of Policy and Public Affairs, OCR

Emily Verow

Chief Executive Officer, Three Spires Trust

Deborah Streatfield

Founder, The Careers Office

Michelle Wayt

Assistant Director, Development and Employment, NHS Employers

Dr Ems Lord

Director, NRICH; Chair, The Mathematical Association; and Research Fellow, University of Cambridge

Jackie Grubb

Principal, City College Plymouth