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Sector news, 1 - 7 February 2015

Funding cut for 1,600 more skills qualifications, SFA announces FE Week, 2 February 2015

A further 1,600 skills qualifications will no longer be publicly funded due to low or no demand, the Skills Funding Agency announced. A total of 972 qualifications with low demand – fewer than 100 enrolments a year – and 691 with no demand will not be available for new starts from 1 August 2015. It is the third review of the system carried out by the SFA, which has now seen two-thirds of publicly funded qualifications (6,900) being removed from government funding since 2013, leaving 3,100 remaining. Steve Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said he was pleased the SFA involved all of the key groups in the review of the qualifications. David Hughes, chief executive of adult education body Niace, said his biggest concern was that many of the qualifications on the list seemed to be in vital areas of the economy – including manufacturing technology, engineering and building and construction – where he said employers were “crying out” for highly skilled workers.

Government has 'downgraded' apprenticeships, Labour claims FE Week, 4 February 2015

The coalition government has “downgraded” apprenticeships and taken Britain “backwards” on productivity, Labour has claimed. Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, speaking during a Commons opposition day debate, said Labour would "ensure that apprenticeships are a trusted gold standard once again".

SFA in multi-million pound non-apprenticeship payour FE Week, 6 February 2015

Colleges and local authorities will get a multi-million pound Skills Funding Agency (SFA) payout for non-apprenticeship provision this month while independent learning providers (ILPs) look set to miss out on the cash boost, FE Week revealed. In a letter seen by FE Week, SFA funding and programmes director Keith Smith told colleges and local authorities they would be getting in-year growth allocations before the end of the current financial year if they had delivered at least 97 per cent of their adult skills budget (ASB) contract value in 2013/2014. The SFA declined to comment on the payouts or reveal the total amount going to colleges, but said figures would eventually be published.

Report showing £800m of public money spent on post-16 drop-outs ‘shines light on careers advice failings’ says AoC boss Martin Doel FE Week, 2 February 2015

A report for the Local Government Association (LGA) claiming more than £800m of public money went on teenagers who dropped out of post-16 education “shines a light on failing careers advice in this country,” Association of Colleges chief executive Martin Doel has said. Analysis for the LGA by the Centre for Economic & Social Inclusion (CESI) claims the cost to taxpayers of education and skills provision started in 2012/13 but not completed was £814 million – 12 per cent of all government spending on post-16 education and skills. This was made up of £316m from AS and A-level, £302m from FE and £196m from apprenticeships. Mr Doel said there could be many reasons for a young person not finishing their course, but pointed towards careers guidance reforms as part of the reason.

Plan for national college of teaching gains widespread support The Guardian, 5 February 2015

The creation of a national college of teaching, a long-held dream for bolstering the credibility of the teaching profession, has moved a step closer after unions and pillars of the education establishment announced they were backing a proposal. Claim Your College, the coalition behind the plan, published a list of supporters that included the general secretaries of the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers, as well as prominent educators, schools, organisations such as UCL’s Institute of Education, and the Independent Schools Council, which represents private schools. It would seek to create a benchmark for professional development, and provide an independent voice for the profession outside the government and unions. The coalition is submitting its plan to the Department for Education for consultation, which closes on Tuesday. If successful, the group will be awarded funds to help establish the college.

SFA to fund non-QCF quals as Ofqual begins to remove controversial framework

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has announced it will fund courses which do not fit with the qualifications and credit framework (QCF) as regulator Ofqual begins to dismantle the controversial system. The SFA said its new system would be “framework neutral”.