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Sector news, 13 - 26 September 2015

Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden hits out over DfE climbdown on English and maths funding rule FE Week, 25 September 2015

Newly-appointed Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden has called for an urgent review after the Department for Education (DfE) watered down a key 16 to 18 English and maths funding rule. Mr Marsden hit out after the DfE said it would not fully apply the condition of funding in relation to last academic year. The rule states that any 16-18 student that does not have a grade C in English and maths and fails to enrol in the subjects would be removed in full from the 2016/17 funding allocation. However, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) confirmed this week that the penalty would be halved, and only apply to providers where more than 5 per cent of relevant students (by value) did not comply with the funding condition. The announcement came in light of data showing that 3 per cent of 16 to 19-year-olds without at least a grade C in GCSE English and maths attending an FE institution did not continue their study of the subjects. FE Week said that equated to around 35,000 learners, representing a potential loss of earning to the sector of up to £150m.

Gazelle bosses slash annual membership fee to £15k after more than half of colleges quit group FE Week, 24 September 2015

The number of colleges in Gazelle has more than halved in the space of just over a year to 10 — with three out of the five founder colleges having also walked away. The dwindling numbers were revealed with the conclusion of the group’s long-running membership review, in which its annual membership fees were slashed from £35k to £15k. Gazelle claimed to “develop innovative new learning models and new partnerships with business to deliver an improved outcome for students, their communities and the economy”, but a key criticism had been that there was no return on investment (ROI) analysis carried out by Gazelle to justify the spending of public money amid shrinking budgets. The two remaining founder members are City College Norwich and Warwickshire College Group.