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Sector news, 15 - 28 February 2015

Merger casts jobs shadow FE Week, 23 February, 2015

Staff at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace) and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (Inclusion) face an uncertain future with a possible merger on the horizon after the two organisations formed a “strategic alliance”. Neither organisation said it could rule out job losses or a name change if the alliance, which involves shared resources and joint contract tenders, resulted in formal merger later in the year. The alliance will centre round a united voice on employment, skills and lifelong learning, integrated, practical research and policy development, a new national events, campaigning and public affairs function, improving service and cost-effectiveness and developing the options for closer working.


Funding fears as leps document reveals ‘relationship’ requirement FE Week, 23 February, 2015

Colleges could lose out on funding if local enterprise partnerships (Leps) do not engage with them, Association of Colleges chief executive Martin Doel has warned after the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) published new guidance. In a document entitled Local Enterprise Partnerships: increasing their influence on skills budgets, the SFA said future funding agreements would require colleges to demonstrate a relationship with their Lep. It also says that Leps will get a say in how additional growth funding is allocated. But he said if colleges tried to engage with Leps but the Leps were not interested, the colleges could lose out on money. The release of the document comes after Ofsted’s annual report on FE and skills for 2013/14 raised concerns that Leps were “not collaborating sufficiently to ensure that vocational training is planned to help reduce skills shortages”.


'Remake' apprenticeships by focusing on teaching, say skills bodies TES, 19 February, 2015

A new report from a group of skills bodies is calling for apprenticeships in England to be “remade” by increasing the focus on teaching and learning. City & Guilds, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, the 157 Group and the Centre for Real-World Learning carried out a review of research into the pedagogy of apprenticeships. Their report, Remaking Apprenticeships, offers a series of recommendations to increase the quality of apprentices’ learning, which it says is often overlooked. The report proposes that learning be put “back at the heart” of vocational qualifications by shifting the focus to the most successful teaching methods and sharing best practice. Future government documents about apprenticeships should explicitly reference pedagogy, it adds.


Wolf review: 20 of 27 recommendations implemented, government claims FE Week, 23 February 2015

Most of Professor Alison Wolf’s recommendations for reform of 14-19 vocational education have been implemented, the government has claimed. The Department for Education has issued its final progress report on Professor Wolf’s 27 recommendations, which were initially outlined in her 2011 Review of Vocational Education, claiming 20 of the points have become government policy, with six in the process of implementation and one having been implemented in-part. The review led to the introduction of new study programmes, a new drive for colleges to recruit learners from the age of 14 and per-learner funding, instead of the per-qualification funding which it was previously argued led to unfairness in the way FE colleges were funding compared to other 16 to 19 institutions. Many of the key elements of the report have been implemented in the last six months, which has allowed the government to promote a much better position than the one announced about a year ago, when the review marked its third anniversary.