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Sector news, 10 - 23 November 2013

College teachers should not have to be qualified: it damages independence Guardian, 12 November 2013

In this opinion piece, Ian Pryce, principal of Bedford College and co-founder of the 157 Group, says mandatory qualifications would stop colleges recruiting highly-skilled people. He said having industry experts as teachers can be invaluable in giving students the edge in finding work, and mandatory qualifications might put talented people off entering the sector. The previous requirement that teachers must have or work towards a qualification did help colleges focus on teaching and learning, but also meant they spent a lot of time and money getting a certificate for teachers who were already good, he said.

Bring back FE teacher qualifications: learners deserve more than pot luckGuardian, 19 November 2013

Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of the Institute for Learning, says more than subject knowledge is needed to teach in a college. She says the argument about making teaching qualifications optional to enable more industry experts to teach in colleges doesn’t make sense, as more than industry knowledge is needed to be an effective teacher, such as drawing on research and theory on how people learn. When there were mandatory qualifications it also did not stop experts who weren’t trained teachers from sharing their knowledge with learners for up to 28 hours a year. She said to attract high calibre new entrants to FE, teaching in the sector must be seen as a step up professionally.

Up to 50,000 teenagers studying dead-end courses, claims think-tankFE Week, 19 November 2013

Tens of thousands of 16 to 18-year-olds are taking dead-end courses that will end with no job and will turn them off education and training, the think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research has warned. The IPR says up to a fifth of teenagers who left school without good qualifications are taking these courses but would be better off on an apprenticeship or in stronger forms of pre-apprenticeship training. The analysis shows that more than one in five of those studying for a level two qualification at 16/17 and 17/18 ends up Neet by the time they are 19/20, and nearly in one in four doing level one courses ends up Neet. The group is more than three times as likely to be Neet at age 19/20, than those studying for A/AS-levels at the same ages.

Hancock to divert cash to employersFE Week, 22 November 2013

Apprenticeships are to be funded through employers, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock announced at the Association of Colleges (AoC) conference on Tuesday. He said the move was part of a wider strategy to reform the FE system “to support high expectations”. The announcement was made before the results of the recent consultation on apprenticeships funding have been released.

New SFA chief announcedFE Week, 22 November 2013

The new Skills Funding Agency chief executive has been announced. Former Salford City Council boss Barbara Spicer has been named the new interim Skills Funding Agency chief executive, taking up the role from Kim Thorneywork who is taking time off as she is treated for cancer. Ms Spicer, aged 49, said: “I want to support the ambitious reform agenda and work with the sector to continue to focus directly on the current needs of employers, the skills that the UK will need in the future, and how we connect our individual learners to those needs.”

Two rounds of college funding unleash £232m in government cash FE Week, 22 November 2013

The government is to release £232.7m of funding to revamp more than 50 colleges who will match-fund with £250m of their own cash. An extra £330m will be made available for skills capital investment through the Local Growth Fund in 2016-17. Business Secretary Vince Cable, speaking at the Association of Colleges (AoC) annual conference, said: “Our commitment to support modern, well-equipped colleges and training centres to train the next generation sits alongside the government’s industrial strategy giving business the confidence to invest in the long-term.” Projects being funded include Dudley College’s new engineering and advanced manufacturing workshops, Leeds City College centre for mechanical engineering and Runshaw College’s industry standard engineering and science facilities. Martin Doel, AoC chief executive, said welcomed the investment, but said the future was less certain as LEPs will be involved in the allocation of the FE capital budget from 2015 onward, but there is little detail as to how government will ensure all bids for funding were treated fairly and achieve similar value for money to the allocations announced.

How can the private colleges monster be reined in? Guardian, 20 November 2013

The number of people taking courses at unaccountable private colleges has rocketed – and student loans to them are burning a hole in the public purse, says Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union. She says the number of people taking HNDs and HNCs at 46 private colleges has nearly trebled in the past two years, and they are proving particularly attractive to students from other EU countries who can access more than £10,000 from the UK in student loans for a two-year course. The government is now imposing admissions controls on the 23 fastest growing colleges and in one case has suspended funding payments.