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Sector news, 1 - 14 March 2015

‘Careers advisers who don’t promote apprenticeships should be fired’ FE Week, 2 March 2015

Failure to promote apprenticeships and traineeships should result in the sack for careers advisers, House of Commons Education Select Committee chair Graham Stuart has said. During a debate secured by the Association of Colleges and All-Party Parliamentary Group for FE and lifelong learning chair Stephen Lloyd MP, Mr Stuart said schools needed a bigger incentive to offer comprehensive careers advice, including non-academic routes, and were often concerned with filling their sixth form. The 2011 Education Act made it an explicit requirement of schools to promote apprenticeships and traineeships in careers advice.

Scores of FE colleges involved in £3.75m project to boost sector’s higher education staff FE Week, 3 March 2015

Almost 50 FE colleges will take part in a £3.75m project to help ensure industry knowledge is passed on by the sector’s higher education staff. The Association of Colleges (AoC) has been given £2.75m by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) Catalyst Fund for a project that will see higher education staff at 47 colleges working with employers to improve their knowledge of industry and jobs. The three-year project aims to encourage teachers to make regular visits to employers and bring real-life experience and work-based projects to the classroom and will result in a new framework to enhance teaching and learning. Lead colleges include Hereford College of Arts and partner colleges include South and City College Birmingham and Birmingham Met.

Local government thinktank’s ‘Heseltine-plus’ report calls for ‘abolition of the SFA’ and acknowledges FE representation on Lep boards an ‘urgent issue’ FE Week, 5 March 2015

The abolition of the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) within just over a year has been proposed by a local government thinktank as it recommended devolving “various streams straight to local enterprise partnerships (Leps).” The 66-page Next Leps: Unlocking growth across our localities report from Localis calls for the SFA to lose its £3.5bn from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) by 2016/17 among other far-reaching recommendations. It suggests too that EFA spending on University Technical Colleges should go through Leps. It does however also point out that there are 18, almost half, Leps without FE representation on their board, which needs to be urgently addressed. ABIS spokesperson said there were no plans to abolish the SFA.

Numeracy and literacy not just learner issues FE Week, 9 April 2015

The FE sector has to face up to low levels of literacy and numeracy among staff if it wants to improve learners’ maths and English, an Ofsted official has warned. Marina Gaze, Ofsted’s deputy director for skills and FE made the comments at the BKSB Skills Conference focussing on English and maths. In August, it became a condition of funding for all learners who had not yet achieved A* to C GCSE English and maths by the age of 16 to continue to study these subjects as part of their 16 to 19 education. However Ms Gaze said one of the best ways to teach literacy and numeracy was to embed it in other subjects, but this created problems when staff had their own issues. She said there had to be someone senior with responsibility for the subjects. Delegates said recruitment and retention were big issues.

Apprenticeships commission puts colleges forward as solution to schools’ vocational offer for ‘all’ 14 to 16-year-olds FE Week, 3 March 2015

All 14 to 16-year-olds should be able to study a vocational subject at school – and colleges could hold the key to providing that offer, an influential group of politicians and sector leaders recommended. The Demos thinktank’s Commission on Apprenticeships, launched last summer, has published its report which also calls for an “apprentice guarantee” that could see learners liable for off-the-job training costs if they don’t complete their framework. The Commission has made its recommendations in the 116-page report alongside the results of a survey of 1,000 parents, which revealed a big difference in the proportion who thought apprenticeships were a good option for young people generally (92 per cent), and those who favoured them for their own children (32 per cent).