Skip to main content

Sector news, 14 - 20 September 2014

'Worrying drop in real-terms pay for lecturers', report warns TES, 18 September 2014

A new analysis of the further education workforce in England “paints a worrying picture” of falling pay for teachers, according to a union. The Further Education Workforce Data for England report by the Education and Training Foundation shows average annual pay for full-time teachers dropped slightly last year, from £29,696 in 2011-12 and £29,647 in 2012-13. The report said that given the inflation rate of 2.7 per cent in September 2013 this amounted to a more significant fall in real terms, the report finds. It also reveals a continuing gender divide in FE, with average full-time pay for all staff higher for men, at £27,522, than for women, at £25,824, and a significant variation across regions. University and College Union head of further education, Andrew Harden, said the report painted a worrying picture of falling real pay for teachers.

UCU strike: Union members in colleges to walk out next month over pay TES, 15 September 2014

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) working in English FE colleges will be taking part in a one-day strike over pay next month, the TES revealed. It said the UCU’s further education committee met on Friday to consider the results of a member consultation on the 2014/15 pay offer made by the Association of Colleges in June. The union said 85 per cent of those who took part voted to reject the AoC’s offer and supported strike action “in an effort to secure an improved deal”.The committee voted in favour of joining other public sector unions in a day of action on 14 October, and to determine dates for further targeted and national strike action when it next meets on 17 October. It is estimated that some 1.3 million workers, including members of the GMB, Unison and Unite will be walking out in schools and council offices around the country.

IfL jobs at risk FE Week, 19 September 2014

The future of more than a dozen Institute for Learning (IfL) jobs was today looking uncertain as the IfL prepares to transfer assets to the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) before closing. A spokesperson for the IfL told FE Week that there was no guarantee that any of its 15 workers would keep their jobs following the move, voted through by its non-executive board two months ago. The transfer is expected to be complete by the end of next month, and an HR consultation is underway to determine the fate of IfL employees. A week ago it was revealed that the IFL’s Qualified Teacher Learning Status (QTLS) programme would continue under the ETF. The ETF declined to comment on the potential job losses among IfL staff.

Maths teachers lack confidence and qualifications, report finds TES, 18 September 2014

More than one in six maths teachers in the FE sector do not have a good GCSE pass in the subject, while almost half of them “lack confidence” in teaching it, new research has revealed. A study commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) found that 17.1 per cent of all maths teachers in the sector have only achieved a functional or adult basic skills level 2 qualification. Among teachers leading GCSE maths classes, surveys of more than 470 staff also found that 9 per cent of them have not actually achieved this qualification themselves, and only have a functional or adult basic skills equivalent. A further 12 per cent have achieved no qualification higher than a GCSE, even though they should typically be qualified at least one level higher than that which they are teaching at. The report said: “This indicates that in some instances teachers may lack adequate qualification with respect to the level they teach.” The sector is already grappling with a shortage of teaching staff. A report by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and the ETF reported that more than 40 per cent of the work-based learning providers surveyed found it difficult to recruit teaching staff for maths and English. Sue Pope, chair of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics’s general council, said there was a “desperate need to upskill maths teachers in FE”. She said they needed the opportunity for continuous CPD.

Missed opportunities: why the new literacy and numeracy strategy is flawed Guardian, 18 September 2014

Harvey Young, director of NCC Skills, which provides maths and English qualifications and employs 70 full-time specialist maths and English teachers, writing in the Guardian, said the government’s new strategy for improving basic skills could “become more toothless rhetoric”. England was found last year to be the only country in the developed world where the generation nearing retirement was more literate and numerate than the youngest adults. Young said there should be separate ringfenced funding for English and maths, a move away from short-term contracts for funded work, easily accessible basic skills training not all run by unions, and opportunities for more lifelong learning. He also said money should not be spent on marketing, and providers needed targets and financial incentives.

Why the score is not even on graded lessons TES, 19 September 2014

Graded lesson observations are a thing of the past in school inspections, but Ofsted may continue the controversial practice in further education, the TES revealed. The watchdog is also reviewing whether to carry out more no-notice inspections of colleges and independent training providers, although a senior director has expressed concerns about using the approach across the board. Ofsted’s national director for FE and skills Lorna Fitzjohn revealed that no decision had yet been made about grading lessons, and said she was “surprised” by the strength of feeling among college leaders, who said they should continue to be graded. Most lecturers were opposed to the practice. The idea of no-notice inspections has re-emerged after the Trojan Horse investigation into Birmingham schools but it is harder to impose in schools with some students likely to be in a workplace at any one time.

UTCs running at 10 per cent full as enrolment plummets FE Week, 19 September 2014

A number of University Technical Colleges (UTCs) were running at around 10 per cent capacity last academic year — while the overall enrolment figure plummeted to just 30 per cent, FE Week revealed using figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. There were 9,560 places in total available in UTCs, but just 2,886 were filled. Of the 17 UTCs in 2013/14 the most full ran at 81 per cent capacity. A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said that with most UTCs having only opened last year, they were “not expected to reach their capacity for a number of years”. Hackney UTC has revealed it will not be reopening next September having attracted just 29 of its target of 75 pupils for 2014/15. With a further 13 UTCs having opened this month, and a planned total of 57 by 2016, the Association of Colleges (AoC) called for a rethink on UTCs.