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Sector news, 19 - 25 October 2014

Dozens of new apprenticeships launched as 'trailblazers' gather pace TES, 23 October 2014

More than 700 employers have drawn up standards for new apprenticeships in the third wave of the government’s 'trailblazers' scheme. The move will see the creation of 76 new apprenticeships, ranging from nuclear technician to equine groom, involving employers including PwC, BAE Systems and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue. The Federation of Small Businesses has expressed concern that the scheme could be dominated by large firms, but skills minister Nick Boles said the government was eager to get small companies to take part. But the announcement coincided with a survey showing only one in five sixth formers were thinking about apprenticeships.

FE Commissioner surprised that colleges are missing the 'basics' TES, 21 October 2014

The Further Education Commissioner has expressed surprise at how many of the basic elements of success are missing from the colleges in which he has had to intervene. In his latest letter to the sector sent last week, Dr David Collins asked why quality is “so much better” in some colleges than in others, and why some colleges flourish while others struggle despite similar circumstances. He set out ten characteristics of successful colleges, which he describes as “more common sense than rocket science”, but went on to say in intervention cases it was surprising how many basics were missing. He said for the sector to improve it should look at the underlying characteristics of those that are successful: "clarity, connectivity, confidence, a lack of complacency, consistency, cohesion, challenge, creativity, celebration and care".

Lecturers defend their credentials TES, 24 October 2014

Further education teachers in England are strongly opposed to the deregulation of teaching qualifications, a survey revealed. In a final poll of its members before closing, the Institute for Learning asked FE teachers about issues affecting their professional practice. The results showed that more than three-quarters of the 1,200 respondents disagree or strongly disagree with the government’s move to scrap the requirement for FE teachers and trainers to be qualified. Ministers have said it is up to individual institutions to decide what qualifications its teachers need. There was strong support among respondents for the expansion of apprenticeships and traineeships, but little support for changes to GCSEs.

Colleges losing focus on student success, FE Commissioner warns FE Week, 22 October 2014

Colleges are losing their focus on student success in favour of other activities, FE Commissioner Dr David Collins has warned. In his third letter to the FE sector, which came after he visited his 14th college since his interventions began, Dr Collins said senior teams were often seen by staff as “invisible”, often in colleges which had been judged inadequate in terms of leadership and management. He has now visited Barnfield College, Bicton College, City of Bristol College, City of Liverpool College, City of Wolverhampton College, K College, LeSoco, Stockport College, Startford-upon-Avon College, Weymouth College, Norton Radstock College, Bournville College, Guildford College and West Cheshire College. He said senior leadership teams should provide “a sense of common purpose and teamwork that centres on the experience and success of the learner”. But he added that student success seemed to be lost “sometimes in the pursuit of tangential activity at the expense of the core business.”